The Dearth of Conservative Professors Explained

Lib­er­als out­num­ber con­ser­v­a­tives in the acad­e­my. That’s a known fact. What explains this diver­gence? Some have attrib­uted it to lib­er­als cre­at­ing a hos­tile envi­ron­ment for con­ser­v­a­tives. But new research calls that view into ques­tion and offers an intrigu­ing alter­na­tive expla­na­tion.

As described in The Chron­i­cle of High­er Edu­ca­tion, Matthew Woess­ner (a con­ser­v­a­tive aca­d­e­m­ic) and April Kel­ly-Woess­ner (a lib­er­al aca­d­e­m­ic) looked at sur­veys com­plet­ed by 15,569 col­lege seniors, and what an analy­sis of the data sug­gests is that “the per­son­al pri­or­i­ties of those on the left are more com­pat­i­ble with pur­su­ing a Ph.D.” “Lib­er­al­ism is more close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with a desire for excite­ment, an inter­est in cre­ative out­lets, and an aver­sion to a struc­tured work envi­ron­ment. Con­ser­v­a­tives express greater inter­est in finan­cial suc­cess and stronger desires to raise fam­i­lies. From this per­spec­tive, the ide­o­log­i­cal imbal­ance that per­me­ates much of acad­e­mia may be some­what intractable.” Or, put dif­fer­ent­ly, this imbal­ance may not be going away any time soon.

To delve fur­ther into their research, you can read their report online here.

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  • Stephen says:

    Would you not also say that his­tor­i­cal­ly it is true that in gen­er­al “lib­er­als” believe that sci­ence and research will reveal answers to improve the human con­di­tion (human­ism), where­as con­ser­v­a­tives have tend­ed to have viewed cre­ation as a divine order which is inher­ent­ly, there­fore, impos­si­ble for man to ful­ly under­stand and mas­ter?

    If this is the case, then there is obvi­ous­ly more moti­va­tion for the lib­er­al thinker than the con­ser­v­a­tive thinker to pur­sue high­er-lev­el research.

    (I do not think that there are many who hold fast to either posi­tion as out­lined above; I am pre­sent­ing gen­er­al­i­ties to see whether we can find any answers through these stereo­types.)

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