Science Professor muses on Stay or Go?, the well known conventional wisdom that any serious scientist will inhabit different Universities for undergraduate, postgraduate, postdoctoral and professorial career stages. If you stay at one location for two consecutive stages then you must be a crappy scientist.
The true reality is that geographical limits in a training history are imperfect predictors of scientific quality. There are negative factors to remaining in the same environment, mostly having to do with being steeped in one narrow scientific perspective. Variously defined, you realize.
The appearance, however, does not always reflect reality. I know of many people who trained in disparate locations as grad students and postdocs...but the labs were near clones of each other. I also know of a rare few who stayed at one University across *multiple* transitions yet received greater diversity of perspective than the prior examples.
In short, it depends.
Given this, and given that anyone with a brain more advanced than a carrot realizes this, we must ask ourselves why such a seemingly hard and fast career rule persists.
I submit to you that women in science are disproportionately, for better or for worse, likely to be geographically anchored. Deployment of the "rule", in lieu of considering individual merits/limitations, therefore contributes to the persisting sex disparity in science career success.
Is there any useful purpose for the "rule" that I am missing, Dear Reader?