From Networking To Nepotism: Systemic Racism And The Paradox Of Academic Networks


  • Jane-Frances Lobnibe



The phrase “it’s who you know, not what you know that counts” is often heard in conversations about people who get ahead. In academic circles, this concept translates into what is often called “networking”. The daily life of the graduate student in US universities hinges on the individual’s ability to interact and form strategic alliances with other members of the academy.  Indeed, networking is a widely accepted norm within higher education and commonly practiced by well meaning progressive scholars in the academy; but few, if any, have examined the ability of such a practice to exclude certain groups and individual students from active academic participation. It is very common to hear scholars’ advice students and especially junior faculty, to try to “network” with particularly the “well connected” and “powerful” scholars in their fields of study. But what exactly does networking entail?  What are the factors that influence people’s networking practices and how do these factors favor or disadvantage individuals or groups in the networking process?  This paper examines how systemic racism influences networking practices in US colleges and Universities and how that affects the lived experiences of female African students at a major research university in the US. , I focus on the racialized nature and paradoxes of “networking” in higher education in order to show that such an idea and practice contribute and or form part of the institutional structure that works to oppress, dominate and marginalize racial minority groups and individuals within the academy.  I argue that the idea of “networking” in higher education is yet another name for intellectual “nepotism” within the context of systemic racism.




How to Cite

Lobnibe, J.-F. (2018). From Networking To Nepotism: Systemic Racism And The Paradox Of Academic Networks. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 5(8).