Explaining the fresh grad layer woes using frequency dependent selection

The reason why I love teaching biology is because every single concept can be applied and/or observed to real life. Sometimes, this extends beyond biology into to social phenomenons.

Like this recent article for example, with dire warnings about the job prospects of freshly graduated lawyers. A check with an HR director friend in a mid-sized local law firm confirmed the same views. However, almost 10 years ago, the situation is completely opposite. The shortage was severe with many firms paying top dollars trying to secure the oh-so-rare law graduate.

This picture fits into the model of frequency dependent selection, a concept taught in diversity and evolution in H2 biology.

The concepts describes the frequency of favorable alleles that decrease in favor over time because of the sheer numbers of organisms expressing a particular allele (think along the lines that if the amount of food for these organisms remain the same, increased numbers results in competition for the resources and insufficiency), consequently, it is no longer favorable, their frequency decline and those minorities that show the unfavorable allele starts benefiting instead and the tides turn. Some time later the minorities now becoming the majority experiences the same situation. So every few years, there is a reversal but the allele frequency never really reaches 0 (because before that point reaches the selection pressure shifts again).

It’s the same with the newly minted lawyers as well. When in market demand, their jobs look attractive and many swarm into the course and career. And the schools facilitate that process. When increased numbers of graduates are released into the market over time, the job opportunities dry up. And with reports warning about the viability of career many would choose to stay away which will result in a reduction and the situation flips.

So how does one benefit or survive in this frequency dependent selection and not be one of the casualties?

It is the most important question isn’t it? My suggestion? Acquire another favorable ‘allele’. This TED talk by Knut Haanaes fully exemplifies what one can do.

As a tutor I try to be the same as well. Instead of repeating what I do ad infinitum, I keep trying out new pedagogies because I am not satisfied yet with the current iteration of my classes. I continue exploring for new technologies, ideas and ways to further improve the classes whilst in the mean time repeating what has already been proven to work well. COMMENT.


  • On July 25, 2016