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ERIC Number: EJ788933
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Feb-22
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Conservatives Just Aren't into Academe, Study Finds
Wilson, Robin
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n24 pA1 Feb 2008
A professor whose conservatism places him in a distinct minority not only at his own institution, but in higher education generally, has conducted research that suggests conservatives may simply not be well suited to careers in academe. Matthew Woessner and April Kelly-Woessner have found that liberal students have values and interests that point them to careers in academe, while most conservative students do not. The Woessners began studying the politics of the professoriate after September 11, 2001, when they noticed their classrooms becoming more politically charged. To find out how students reacted when professors expressed political views, the Woessners distributed questionnaires in 2004 to 1,385 undergraduates in political-science courses at 29 colleges and universities. They asked the students to indicate whether they thought their professors were conservative, moderate, or liberal. And they asked students about the quality of classroom teaching. What they found was that students who believed their professors had the same politics they did rated a course more highly than students who didn't, and that students were less interested in a course when they believed their professors' political views clashed with their own. Impressed with the even-handedness of the Woessners' research, Robert Maranto asked the couple to contribute a chapter to his book on why conservatives don't pursue doctorates. Typically, says Maranto, there are a few answers to the question. Liberals say conservatives want to make more money than professors earn, while conservatives argue that they get less encouragement from professors than liberal students do. What the Woessners found, though, is that those are not the only reasons. Looking at differences in interests and personality, they found that in a variety of ways, conservative students were less interested than liberals in subject matter that often leads to doctoral degrees, and less interested in doing the kinds of things that professors spend their time doing. They also found that conservative students put a higher priority than liberal ones on raising a family. That does not always fit well with a career in academe, where people often delay childbearing until after they earn tenure. If the Woessners are right, there may not be an easy solution to the political imbalance in academe.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A