Friday, February 25, 2005

Purely Academic

Todd Zywicki of The VC links to research done by Dan Klein showing that Republicans are vastly underrepresented in the halls of academia. The combined rate of Democrats to Republicans at Stanford and Berkeley is 9:1, and judging by the rate of tenure-track hires it is getting worse. What does this mean?

Zywicki correctly notes that if this was the gender or race based disparity, people would be throwing a fit. And certainly, these statistics are distressing. However, there are some important differences between under-represented ideologies vs. under-represented races or genders. The reason is that while there shouldn't, in theory, be any reason why a particular race would avoid academia, it is quite conceivable that a group based on ideological persuasion might prefer to do other things. That's one of the reasons that race is considered a suspect class and political parties aren't: political party members necessarily share certain values and characteristics, while race and gender based characteristics are overwhelmingly based on stereotype. So it does make a certain degree of sense that softy, idealistic liberals may want to go into teaching and sacrifice the allure of money and power, while hardheaded, realistic conservatives would either enter the private sector or think tanks where they can make more cash and influence authority. I'm not saying this is true, but it is far more reasonable a proposition than any non-discrimination based argument for why Blacks are underrepresented (I include in "discrimination" the continued economic disadvantages faced by minorities as a legacy of past discrimination).

The real question is: Are there significant numbers of Republicans who wish to enter Academia but either a) face institutional obstacles to doing so (such as biased administrators) or b) feel academia is a "hostile environment" to persons with their views? If either of those are true, then we may have a case. But more research needs to be done first.


Anonymous said...

An interesting theory, and my have some part in the disparity, but most likely not the major reason. Even when I went to college in the 70's, I knew that nearly all of my professors were liberal and that my grade to some extent was dependant on parroting their views. My secretary tells my here daughter feels the soame way in high school now. The disparity is more likely the result of discrimination, both covert and overt. I refer you to a piece by Mike Adams discussing his own experiences as a faculty member. If that's not enough, perhaps you should read about the social work graduate student at the University of Rhode Island who's professor proudly proclaimed his bias and told the student that if he didn't have the same values, he was probably in the wrong field. I'm just don't understand why liberal academics are so afraid of a healthy exchange of ideas. Works great in the blogs all the time.


Anonymous said...

I think you're overanalyzing it a bit. Of course, the Halls of Academia slant left. Buckley wrote about this in the 50's -- God & Man at Yale.

The question is, Is the leftward tilt at the Universities good for students?

I submit the answer is "No."