I had an interesting conversation with a friend early on at the Non-Smoker last night (which was a great time--thanks to all for attending!). I've come across more than a few discussions of "pedigree bias" in the past. So, for instance, Eric Schwitzgabel did a little study a few years ago where he found that a vast majority of PhD students in philosophy did their undergrad at a small number elite universities. And of course there have been many discussions about the role that PhD program pedigree plays on the academic job market.
One issue that I haven't come across until last night, however--though perhaps it has been discussed elsewhere (I wouldn't be surprised!)--is the role that job pedigree plays after graduate school. Let me explain. My friend last night, who is pretty social with other people on the job market, noted that for almost all of the people he's spoken to, the kinds of interviews they've gotten--that is, teaching vs. research jobs--appear to be far more strongly related to the kind of job they've previously been in than to their CV's. So, to take just one case, he drew a comparison between how he's fared on the job market compared to another person who graduated from his same program. Basically, he said, they have very similar CV's: a similar number of publications, in similar venues, etc. The only real difference between their dossiers, he said, is that his first job out of grad school was at a teaching institution, whereas his friend's was at a prestigious research postdoc. And, he said, this seems to have made a big difference in where they got interviews. Whereas all of his interviews were at teaching programs, most of his friend's interviews were at R1 schools. The person then noted that something similar seems to be the case for "everyone he knows": that basically, irrespective of publication records, etc., people in teaching jobs mostly seem to get considered only for other teaching jobs, whereas people in research post-docs get far more consideration for research jobs.
I guess in one sense this isn't surprising. A person in a research post-doc "looks like a researcher" (I guess), whereas someone at a teaching job has a record in that are. That being said, if the bias is anything like as strong as his remarks suggest, I find it curious. It seems to me that if I were at a research school judging the dossiers of two different candidates with similar CV's--similar publications in similar venues--then, all things being equal, I should be more impressed by the person who's accomplished those things in the teaching job. After all, a person in the research postdoc had far more resources at their disposal (postdocs usually have smaller or even no teaching loads, there are lots of colleagues to get feedback from). But what do I know?
What does everyone think? Are my friend's impressions accurate, in your experience?