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The Howard-Harvard effect: Institutional reproduction of intersectional inequalities

The US higher education system concentrates the production of science and scientists within a few institutions. This has implications for minoritized scholars and the topics with which they are disproportionately associated. This paper examines topical alignment between institutions and authors of varying intersectional identities, and the relationship with prestige and scientific impact. We observe a Howard-Harvard effect, in which the topical profile of minoritized scholars are amplified in mission-driven institutions and decreased in prestigious institutions. Results demonstrate a consistent pattern of inequality in topics and research impact. Specifically, we observe statistically significant differences between minoritized scholars and White men in citations and journal impact. The aggregate research profile of prestigious US universities is highly correlated with the research profile of White men, and highly negatively correlated with the research profile of minoritized women. Furthermore, authors affiliated with more prestigious institutions are associated with increasing inequalities in both citations and journal impact. Academic institutions and funders are called to create policies to mitigate the systemic barriers that prevent the United States from achieving a fully robust scientific ecosystem.

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