Why Don’t More Conservatives Get Ph.D.’s?

by Feb 21, 2008Uncategorized1 comment

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education mentions some of the findings from a study done by a mixed-political-affiliation couple asking why conservatives don’t get Ph.D.’s as often as liberals. The couple, Matthew Woessner and April Kelly-Woessner issued their findings in a report titled, “Left Pipeline: Why Conservatives Don’t Get Doctorates.”

There was some evidence that the already overwhelming number of liberals and moderates in the professoriate (90%, the article says) is self-replicating, but that’s not where the Woessners focused their answer.

Instead the Woessners looked 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.

I find this to be a little too convenient:

For example, liberal students reported valuing intellectual freedom, creativity, and the chance to write original work and make a theoretical contribution to science.

But this was interesting and plausible:

They outnumbered conservative students two to one in the humanities and social sciences—which are among the fields most likely to produce interest in doctoral study. Conservative students, however, put more value on personal achievement and orderliness, and on practical professions, like accounting and computer science, that could earn them lots of money.

And this stuck out to me the most:

The Woessners 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.

I find that to be fairly persuasive. I myself am about to enter my first year of marriage while working on a dissertation. It’s not likely to be easy. And I’ve seen others drop out of our Ph.D. (or other graduate) programs because of wife and marriage, baby carriage.

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1 Comment
  1. werpor

    I see no betterment in society since progressives, i.e. reactionary’s, intruded into government. Clearly though they have made their claims to betterment based on their privileged position within government and the chairs they occupy within the academy from which they pontificate endlessly about making way for their own betterment. Progressivism is mob rule by a factional minority. Progressives hold their noses while sniffing that the “deplorables” are forgetting to know their places.
    Their brand of betterment relies on the labour of those deplorables they distain. They pimp the system living comfortably on the avails extracted from the very people they deplore. By mob rule I suggest the rake off is rather like a protection racket. They charge the public for presuming to offer protection from certain big bad wolves. Anyone actually paying attention to the claims they make for their importance — after adding up the cost to society for their specious insights — may very well stand slacked jawed in amazement. Smart they may well be — if skimming the cream off the milk is an admirable skill — while at the same time complaining about the price of milk is admirable.
    The academicians I know are like Isaiah Berlin’s hedgehogs — the one thing hedgehogs understand, he writes, is if hedgehogs are to be on an equal footing with foxes they must be big, i.e. organized. Why else do hedgehogs love big government. There, they can peddle their degrees without having to test their theories in the marketplace. Clever that! The cost though to society is a vague sense that these hedgehogs cannot see the forest for the trees. To my way of thinking academicians are more like bees than hedgehogs; drones.