A new study confirms what even the most casual observer of higher education has long known — that conservative professors are vastly outnumbered by liberal ones — but it also shows that the problem is getting worse.
Published in Econ Journal Watch last month, the study looks at faculty voter registration at 40 leading universities and finds that, out of 7,243 professors, Democrats outnumber Republicans 3,623 to 314, or by a ratio of 11 1/2 to 1.
The study comes after a tumultuous few years at American colleges and universities, marked by campus race protests, the disinvitation of conservative speakers and the popularization of phrases such as “trigger warning” and “safe space.”
Out of five departments analyzed by the authors, the field friendliest to conservative scholars is economics, where there are only 4.5 liberal professors for every conservative.
Conversely, history is by far the least conservative-friendly department, where liberals outnumber conservatives by a 33 1/2-to-1 ratio.
This stands is in stark contrast to a 1968 study that put the Democrat-to-Republican contrast in history departments at 2.7 to 1, the study points out. Even reports from as recent as 2004 have estimated liberals outnumber conservatives in the field by a ratio between 9 to 1 and 15 to 1.
The authors of the analysis — Brooklyn College business professor Mitchell Langbert, private sector economist Anthony J. Quain and George Mason University economist Daniel B. Klein — speculate that the rapidly growing disparity is due in part to the rise of academic subcategories, such as the histories of gender, race and class, where a liberal orientation is the foundation for subsequent research.
Kim R. Holmes, a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said the ascendance of multiculturalism in the humanities makes it difficult for conservatives to find work teaching.
“If you’re going to have a Gender Studies Department, or something like that, the progressive assumptions are built into the very idea of the department, so you’re not going to hire any conservative professors,” said Mr. Holmes, who is the author of “The Closing of the Liberal Mind.” “Because of this, the imbalance has proliferated.”
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