Regardless of some limitations (see my comments below), his quantitative data is interesting. It appears that, at the present time, more U.S. science and technology studies scholars are affiliated with (in the following order): (1) general academic/ interdisciplinary departments; (2) sociology departments; (3) science and technology studies departments; (4) history departments.
- The majority of "interdisciplinary social science" departments hiring science and technology studies scholars for tenure-track and lecturer positions for Fall 2012 are in smaller private technological universities: Illinois Institute of Technology, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Oregon Institute of Technology, and Stevens Institute of Technology. Alternatively, departments hiring science and technology studies scholars on tenure-track for Fall 2010 were in newly established (within the last 15 years) branches of large state universities, i.e. University of Washington-Bothell. I presume this is because these smaller technological universities and new state universities do not have the resources to establish what Siler calls “heartland” social science departments. Siler does point to the service function played by science and technology studies departments in technological universities such as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Georgia Institute of Technology where heartland social science departments do not exist.
- A second trend of hires for Fall 2012, were contract-based lecturer positions in well-established undergraduate science, technology and society programs at comprehensive universities such as Stanford and University of Virginia or liberal arts universities such as Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
- A third trend of hires for Fall 2012, were tenure-track positions offered jointly by sociology departments and interdisciplinary studies departments, including: Sociology & Gender Studies at the University of Southern California; Sociology & African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. On page 30 of his article draft, Siler goes on to say that only 8.3% of the sociologists publishing in SSS are from the "Top 30" sociology departments in the U.S. (ranked according to U.S. News and World Report). This is seen in these two job announcements. While each of these two universities is prestigious on its own merits, their sociology departments are not ranked in the top 30 by U.S. News in 2009.
- Finally, I did not get a good sense of whether the post-doctorate positions advertised for science and technology studies scholars in the U.S. coalesced around specific department types or university types.
Siler also seems to be using some sort of rational choice theory with which I am unfamiliar and cannot evaluate effectively. However, I am skeptical of any methodology which treats social relations as a zero-sum game.
That being said, there are obvious implications for science and technology studies scholars with recent PhDs who are looking for academic positions. The first being that, as science and technology studies does not have many tenure-track lines, it is important to be able to shape your teaching and research portfolio to fit either interdisciplinary departments with their unique aims and objectives, or heartland departments in history or sociology where you might provide an additional strength to their program.
The second implication is that science and technology studies scholars will not necessarily find academic positions in institutions similar to the elite research-intensive universities in which they were trained. It is possible that search committees have something of a “buyer’s market”. In the current job climate, search committees at research-intensive universities, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges have the ability to select from many accomplished recent Ph.D. graduates and post-doctoral associates with excellent teaching and research credentials for tenure-track and non-tenure-track jobs.
The professional higher education articles also discuss the need to orient Ph.D. students towards non-academic positions earlier in their career planning process (i.e. the second semester instead of the second-to-last semester of graduate school). Taking a second look at the many articles in The Chronicle of Higher Education or Inside Higher Ed that discuss the overproduction of humanities and social science Ph.D.s for academic positions, one finds that humanities and social science graduate students, similar to graduate students in science and engineering, are an exploitable source of labor for the university. Similar to science and engineering, post-doctoral fellowships after the humanities or social science Ph.D. are becoming more and more common after writing the dissertation. It is less likely that a humanities or social science Ph.D. student who is not graduating from an elite university will get a tenure-track academic position. Burris notes, that in field of sociology “[g]raduates from the top 5 departments account for roughly one-third of all faculty hired in all 94 departments. The top 20 departments account for roughly 70 percent of the total”. Extrapolating from this data, if elite sociology departments tend to circulate their own PhD graduates for job searches, and less-elite sociology departments tend to hire PhD students from elite sociology departments, where does that leave junior STS scholars (like myself) who are interested in joining sociology departments? As Siler notes, STS scholars tend to reside in less elite sociology departments. How will such scholars convince their department's search committee to hire an interdisciplinary person such as an STS scholar from an elite research-intensive university? It is more likely that the less elite sociology department will hire a recently graduated sociologist from an elite sociology department.
Therefore, depending upon a junior STS scholar's interests, it might also be useful to consider non-academic positions. I personally like the idea of conducting informational interviews in order to navigate the confusing variety of non-academic positions in museums, policy institutes, international development organizations, U.S. federal government, member associations, technology companies, etc.
One person I might ask about careers in the federal government would be Jennifer Tucker. Dr. Tucker received her Ph.D. in science and technology studies from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. She worked as a consultant for a while before joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the Associate Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Food Program. We are privileged to have her as a career panelist at the “International Context for Science and Technology Policy” Gordon Research Seminar from August 4-5, 2012. Another person I might ask would be Pauline Kusiak. She received her Ph.D. in science and technology studies from Cornell University and since 2008 has worked for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning (U.S. Department of Defense).
I am not sure who I would ask about careers for social scientists in technology companies. For example, I know that Assistant Professor Jenna Burrell worked for Intel in the “Peoples and Practices” group before going into a graduate program in sociology at the London School of Economics. What did she do at Intel? That would definitely be interesting to find out in an informational interview. Especially as Silicon Valley needs more humanities Ph.D’s, right?
Any suggestions of STS scholars whom I might interview about careers in policy institutes, member associations and museums?
 Actually Oregon Tech and NJIT are public institutions.
 This understanding of the roles of STHV and SSS is gained by (1) reading articles from both journals; (2) conversation with other science and technology studies scholars in my department and other departments; (3) the science and technology studies +20 workshop organized by Sheila Jasanoff at the Harvard Kennedy School, where several speakers, including previous editors, provided information and statistics about both journals.
 Burris, Val. 2004. “The Academic Caste System: Prestige Hierarchies in Ph.D. Exchange Networks”. American Sociological Review.69:239-264