I found this article recently and I am trying to figure out what to make of it: How academia’s liberal bias is killing social science.
I have had the following experience more than once: I am speaking with a professional academic who is a liberal. The subject of the underrepresentation of conservatives in academia comes up. My interlocutor admits that this is indeed a reality, but says the reason why conservatives are underrepresented in academia is because they don’t want to be there, or they’re just not smart enough to cut it. I say: “That’s interesting. For which other underrepresented groups do you think that’s true?” An uncomfortable silence follows.
I sympathize with the author of this article. But I confess I don’t really know what the solution for this problem looks like.
Conservatives are underrepresented in academia, but they’re not underrepresented in American society as a whole. They are not underrepresented in positions of power. They currently control both houses of Congress, 30 state legislatures, and Lord knows how many local political positions and small businesses. There is no shortage of sympathetic churches or communities. You may not find many Republican professors, but you will find no shortage of Republicans with a voice, income, and/or social status.
So while I agree conservative underrepresentation in academia is a problem, I don’t think it’s genuinely the same as why other groups are underrepresented (women, for example). I am tempted to lean towards the “conservatives don’t want to be there” explanation, but I have no problem acknowledging there is heavy discrimination against conservatives. The article itself indicates that “82 percent [of academic social psychologists polled] admitted that they would be at least a little bit prejudiced against a conservative [job] candidate.” That is, admittedly, a huge percentage. But what would the author suggest to fix this? Affirmative action for conservatives in academia? Proliferation of conservative universities to counter the massive number of liberal academics?
I’m curious to see what our conservative luminaries can come up with as a solution. I assume it will involve lots of Randian buzzwords, mind you.