The Myth of the Academic Lottery

Published at Chronicle Vitae on June 30, 2015.

While I appreciate the attempt to reckon with the mysterious yet fateful nature of academic hiring, this phrase hinders more than it helps. To say you’ve won the lottery overshadows the structural realities of the job market, which are significant factors in why you won the game and whether you deserved to. The insistence on lottery language pushes against the claims that academia is a meritocracy. Did chance or merit determine your hire? It becomes to hard to say. Does hiring in academia amount to a lottery? I doubt it.