[Paleopsych] Rothman, Lichter, and Nevitte: Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty

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Rothman, Lichter, and Nevitte: Politics and Professional Advancement
Among College Faculty


This article first examines the ideological composition of American
university faculty and then tests whether ideological homogeneity has
become selfreinforcing. A randomly based national survey of 1643 faculty
members from 183 fouryear colleges and universities finds that liberals
and Democrats outnumber conservatives and Republicans by large margins,
and the differences are not limited to elite universities or to the
social sciences and humanities. A multivariate analysis finds that, even
after taking into account the effects of professional accomplishment,
along with many other individual characteristics, conservatives and
Republicans teach at lower quality schools than do liberals and
Democrats. This suggests that complaints of ideologicallybased
discrimination in academic advancement deserve serious consideration and
further study. The analysis finds similar effects based on gender and
religiosity, i.e., women and practicing Christians teach at lower
quality schools than their professional accomplishments would predict.

[First: the report from CHE:

[Conservative Professors Are Less Likely to Advance in Academe, Study
Thursday, March 31, 2005

A report released this week offers evidence that American academe is dominated 
by political liberals, and that conservatives are less likely to attain jobs at 
top colleges. The report, based on a study that relied on data from a fairly 
large sample of institutions, is the first to attempt to answer the question of 
whether conservatives in academe face discrimination in hiring.

Published in The Forum, a journal of applied research in contemporary politics, 
[60]the report is based on a 1999 survey of 1,643 faculty members at 183 
colleges and universities in the United States. The study was conducted by 
Stanley Rothman, a professor emeritus of government at Smith College; S. Robert 
Lichter, president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs, a research group 
affiliated with George Mason University and supported by conservative 
foundations; and Neil Nevitte, a professor of political science at the 
University of Toronto.

Stephen H. Balch, president of the National Association of Scholars, an 
advocacy group that supports tradition-minded education, hailed the report as 
groundbreaking. "It's the first time that a rigorous social-science study has 
brought forth strong evidence" for discrimination against conservatives in 
academic hiring, he said.

The report also says that over the past several decades academe has become 
increasingly liberal, and that liberals outnumber conservatives even in 
disciplines like economics, which are often perceived as more-conservative 

The study examined the correlation between the quality of professors' academic 
affiliations (measured using U.S. News & World Report rankings and Carnegie 
Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifications) and three measures 
of ideological orientation: self-identification on a "right-left" scale, 
political-party designation, and self-reported attitudes concerning abortion, 
the environment, and several other political and ideological topics.

Ideology Ranks Second

According to the study, academic achievement -- measured by such variables as 
how many articles, chapters, and books a scholar has published and the amount 
of time spent on research -- mattered most in determining the level of 
institution at which a professor teaches. But ideology was the 
second-most-important factor.

"The ideological orientations of professors are about one-fifth as important as 
their professional achievements in determining the quality of the school that 
hires and retains or promotes them," says the report. After taking professional 
achievement into account, the study showed that being a Republican or 
conservative significantly reduces the predicted quality of the college where a 
scholar teaches. Women and Christians, it also concluded, are similarly 

"We did validate the notion that conservatives are discriminated against," Mr. 
Rothman said in an interview. "No one has ever done that before."

But Roger W. Bowen, president of the American Association of University 
Professors, said the study's methodology is "suspect" because the sample size 
of the survey was too small. "It's difficult to determine its value," he said.

Mr. Bowen also said the study does not take into account other theories about 
why there may be fewer conservatives in academe: that conservatives may 
self-select themselves out of academe, or that "the intellectual cream rises to 
the top." Even if there are many more liberals than conservatives in academe, 
he added, "So what? What difference does it make to students?"

In the report's conclusion, the authors acknowledge that the results are 
"preliminary," but say that conservatives' complaints of the practical effects 
of what they see as liberal bias in academe deserve to be taken seriously.

Background articles from The Chronicle:
   * [61]This Just In: Democrats Outnumber Republicans on American
Faculties, Studies Find (11/19/2004)
   * [62]Conservatives in a Liberal Landscape (9/24/2004)
   * [63]Patrolling Professors' Politics (2/13/2004)
   * [64]Survey of Ivy League Professors Finds Few Conservatives
   * [65]Psychologist Says the Field Needs More Conservatives


    60. http://www.bepress.com/forum/vol3/iss1/art2
    61. http://chronicle.com/daily/2004/11/2004111905n.htm
    62. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i05/05a00801.htm
    63. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i23/23a01801.htm
    64. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v48/i21/21a01001.htm
    65. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v47/i33/33a02601.htm

[E-mail me if you have difficulties getting the referenced articles.

Now the article:

The Forum
Volume3, Issue1 2005 Article 2

Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty

StanleyRothman* S.RobertLichter? NeilNevitte?
*SmithCollege,srothman at smith.edu
?CenterofMediaandPublicA.airs,srlichter at cmpa.com
?UniversityofToronto,nnevitte at chass.utoronto.ca


This article first examines the ideological composition of American
university faculty and then tests whether ideological homogeneity has
become selfreinforcing. A randomly based national survey of 1643 faculty
members from 183 fouryear colleges and universities finds that liberals
and Democrats outnumber conservatives and Republicans by large margins,
and the differences are not limited to elite universities or to the
social sciences and humanities. A multivariate analysis finds that, even
after taking into account the effects of professional accomplishment,
along with many other individual characteristics, conservatives and
Republicans teach at lower quality schools than do liberals and
Democrats. This suggests that complaints of ideologicallybased
discrimination in academic advancement deserve serious consideration and
further study. The analysis finds similar effects based on gender and
religiosity, i.e., women and practicing Christians teach at lower
quality schools than their professional accomplishments would predict.

The politics of professors is a subject of inquiry that has itself
become politicized. On one side of the debate, those who argue that
college faculty have a predominantly liberal or left-wing cast often
link this with charges of a lack of intellectual diversity or the
enforcement of "politically correct" ideas and behavior on college
campuses (Kimball, 1990; Sykes, 1990; Horowitz, 2002). Conversely, those
who reject this position sometimes characterize it as an attempt by
conservative groups or institutions to intimidate liberal faculty
(Lazere, 2004; Gamson, 1997).
For all the fervor that characterizes this debate, much of the evidence
cited on both sides is anecdotal. The best-known large-scale surveys of
academic attitudes are 20 to 30 years old, and the implications of these
data for the contemporary debate are themselves disputed. Further, the
argument that conservative faculty are discriminated against in hiring
and promotion decisions is put forward by individual complainants but
has never been tested systematically.
This study addresses the empirical issues under contention by means of a
national survey of college faculty that is more recent than any other
comprehensive survey and more comprehensive than other any recent
survey. The data set permits us to chart the political self-description
of American college professors and to test the hypothesis that an
ideological homogeneity exists in academia that has become
self-reinforcing. In short, that professional advancement is influenced
by ideological orientation.

Previous Research

Research on the political orientations of American college professors
has long drawn upon a series of national surveys of U.S. college and
university faculty, which were conducted by the Carnegie Commission on
Higher Education in 1969 and 1975 and the Carnegie Foundation for the
Advancement of Teaching in 1984. These surveys were conducted partly in
response to the upheavals of the 1960s, which turned many American
campuses into centers of social and political protest (Carnegie Council,
1978; Carnegie Foundation, 1989).
Studies based on the Carnegie data revealed that American professors
were more liberal in their ideological orientations than the general
population and professors in the humanities and the social sciences were
more liberal than those in the natural sciences, engineering, and
business (Lipset and Dobson, 1972; Ladd and Lipset, 1973; Ladd and
Lipset, 1975). Liberalism was also positively associated with
professional status among the professorate (Hayek, 1949; Lazarsfeld and
Thielens, 1958; Ladd and Lipset, 1975).
The political orientation of professors became part of the national
political debate once again in the 1990s, when conservative critics
began to argue that 1960s radicals and activists had joined university
faculties in numbers sufficient to tilt the balance of opinion in
academia sharply to the left. This was linked to the charge that
left-wing professors were promoting intellectual orthodoxies that made
academia unwelcome to those who did not share their ideology (Kimball,
1990; Sykes, 1990; D'Souza, 1991). Critics dismissed this argument as
the intellectual paranoia of those whose ideas had fallen from favor
(Epstein, 1995) or the academic expression of a resurgent national
conservative movement determined to stamp out dissent on campuses
(Messer, 1995; Gamson, 1997).

Another line of criticism held that the entire conservative critique
rested on faulty empirical assumptions. Hamilton and Hargens (1993)
reanalyzed the Carnegie data and found that the proportion of faculty
who identified themselves as liberal or left declined from 45% in 1969
to 39% in 1984. That placed college faculties well to the left of the
general population, which was 17% liberal in 1969 and 18% liberal in
1984, but the difference seemed to be diminishing (Harris, 2002). The
authors also argued that any liberal tilt was restricted to a limited
number of disciplines, noting that liberal-left views were most common
among professors in the social sciences (59%) and humanities (54%), and
much less so in fields such as the physical sciences (37%), education
(38%), engineering (23%), and business (17%).

This critique has provided the empirical grounding for others who have
argued that, as Hamilton and Hargens put it, "the incidence of leftism
has been considerably exaggerated." It has also been argued that leftist
sentiments are largely limited to the social sciences and humanities, or
to a small number of elite institutions. However, Hamilton and Hargens
found only that two-year colleges housed the fewest liberal faculty.
Four-year colleges and various categories of universities boasted
similar proportions to each other of liberal faculty.
More recently this portrait has been challenged by studies of party
preferences at elite universities and ideological self-descriptions by
members of academic associations. A 2003 survey based on membership
lists from the anthropology, economics, history, philosophy, political
science, and sociology associations found that self-described liberals
outnumbered conservatives by a ratio of seven to one (Klein and Western,
2004). Similarly, a 2001 Brookings Institution survey of professional
associations found Democrat to Republican ratios of four to one in
economics and history, five to one in political science, and 47 to one
in sociology (Brookings, 2001).

Other research has focused more intensively on particular high-profile
institutions. An examination of the political party registrations of
faculty in 22 departments revealed that registered Democrats outnumbered
Republicans by ratios of 8 to 1 at Stanford and 10 to1 at the University
of California-Berkeley (Klein and Western, 2005). The latter finding was
reinforced by a Center for Responsive Politics report, based on Federal
Election Commission filings, that the University of California and
Harvard ranked first and second in per capita employee contributions to
the 2004 Kerry presidential campaign, with Kerry attracting $19 for
every dollar donated to Bush (Tierney, 2004).
Thus, a debate that was based largely on anecdotal charges rebutted by
decades old data is finally beginning to be addressed with more current
and systematic evidence. The recent findings are certainly suggestive of
a dramatic change in faculty political affiliations. But the party
affiliation evidence is restricted to a small number of very elite
institutions, and the professional association data are limited to a few
fields and hindered by a low response rate (30% in the Klein and Western
study). Further, none of these studies have attempted to address
empirically the argument that ideological homogeneity stems at least
partly from the exclusion of faculty with competing perspectives.

Data and Method

The central tenets of the contemporary debate can be formulated as two
linked hypotheses: First, do full-time faculty in four year colleges and
graduate institutions have differentially liberal or left of center
political views and Democratic Party preferences? Second, is there any
evidence indicating that these liberal orientations are
self-reinforcing? Do faculty who do not share the prevailing mindset
find professional advancement more difficult?

We tested the first hypothesis through cross-tabulation of political
self-descriptions, party affiliations, and social and political
attitudes reported by a randomly-based national sample of American
college faculty surveyed in 1999. The second hypothesis is explored
using multiple regression analysis that examines the independent effect
of faculty social and political ideology on professional success, when
such other variables as academic achievement are controlled.
Professional success was operationalized as the quality of academic
institution with which respondents were affiliated, and achievement was
operationalized in terms of publications and other professional and
research-related activities (see Appendix).

The data come from the 1999 North American Academic Study Survey (NAASS)
of students, faculty and administrators at colleges and universities in
the United States and Canada. This survey was conducted in 1999 by Angus
Reid (now Ipsos-Reid), a survey research firm. The questionnaire
included a wide range of items, among them demographic background
variables; attitudes toward social, political, and academic issues; and
(for faculty) academic background, activities, and accomplishments.

The American sample includes 1643 faculty members drawn from 183
universities and colleges. The sample of institutions is stratified by
institution type according to the Carnegie classifications of doctoral,
comprehensive, and liberal arts schools. The data set contains responses
from 81 doctoral, 59 comprehensive and 43 liberal arts institutions.
Within each stratum, institutions were randomly selected from the
universe of qualified institutions, with probability of selection
proportional to size of faculty and student body combined. Full-time
faculty members were then randomly chosen from each institution in
numbers proportionate to its size. The response rate among the American
faculty was 72%.

Findings--Political Attitudes

The NAASS instrument includes three separate measures of political
identification: Ideological self-designation on a left-right scale,
political party preference, and a set of items on social and political
attitudes. The item on ideological self-identification is very similar
to the one used in the Carnegie studies. The Carnegie surveys asked
respondents to identify themselves as left, liberal, middle-of-the-road,
moderately conservative, or strongly conservative. The NAASS form asked
respondents to place themselves on a 10 point scale from "very right" to
"very left;" with the responses recoded to match the five Carnegie

Table 1. Ideological self-description of college professors and general

The results indicate that a sharp shift to the left has taken place
among college faculty in recent years. (See table 1) The 1984 Carnegie
study found that only 39% of faculty members identified themselves as
liberal, including only 6% that would describe themselves as "left,"
compared to 34% who identify themselves as conservative, including 4%
who see themselves as "strong conservatives." The 1999 study found 72%
of faculty to the left of center, including 18% who were strongly left
(choosing "one" or "two" on the 10 point scale from "very left" to "very
right"). Only 15% described themselves as right of center, including
only 3% who were strongly right.

It appears that, over the course of 15 years, self-described liberals
grew from a slight plurality to a 5 to 1 majority on college faculties.
By comparison, among the general population in 1999, 18% viewed
themselves as liberal and 37% conservative. In 2004 the figures were
almost unchanged --18% liberal and 33% conservative. Thus, according to
these self-descriptions, college faculty are about four times as liberal
as the general public.

In addition, the NAASS respondents were asked to identify their
political party affiliation as Democrat, Republican, Independent or
"other." Fully half (50%) identified themselves as Democrats, compared
to only 11% who identified themselves as Republicans, close to the five
to one margin among left versus right of center self-identifiers (see
Table 2). An additional 33% called themselves independent, and 5%
specified some other party. At that time, 36 percent of the American
public identified themselves as Democrats and 29 percent as Republicans.
(Harris 1999). The 2004 figures are 33 percent Democrats and 28 percent
Republicans (Harris 2004).

These data also seem to show that the political differences across
fields of study have narrowed considerably. Certainly the humanities and
social sciences still lean farthest to the left, containing 81% and 75%
liberals respectively. But that still leaves 67% liberals in all other
fields of study. For example three out of four biologists and computer
scientists now place themselves to the left of center, as do about two
thirds of mathematicians, chemists, and physicists. Even among what
appears to have once been the traditional enclaves of more conservative
faculty, liberals outnumber conservatives, by a significant margin--for
example, by 51% to 19% among engineering faculty and 49% to 39% among
business faculty.

Similarly, although 62% of humanities faculty and 55% of social
scientists are Democrats, that leaves nearly a three to one margin (43%
to 15%) of Democrats versus Republicans among other faculty. Democrats
outnumber Republicans by more than 4 to 1 among biologists and nearly 10
to 1 among physicists. Still, Republicans are somewhat less outnumbered
than are self-described conservatives in a few fields. Business
faculties contain equal proportions (26%) of Democrats and Republicans,
and Republicans actually outnumber Democrats by 31% to 24% among
agriculture professors, the only field in which the survey identified
greater faculty representation on the right than on the left.

At the other end of the spectrum, the most heavily liberal and
Democratic fields are virtually unanimous in their political
orientations. In four different departments--English literature,
philosophy, political science, and religious studies--at least 80% of
faculty are liberal and no more than 5% are conservative. English
literature and three additional departments --history, linguistics, and
performing arts--contain at least 60% Democrats and 5% or fewer
Republicans. Sociology just misses making this list with 59% Democrats
and 0% Republicans.

Table 2. Political identification of college professors by field (%)
Field of Study  Liberal*  Conservative*  Democrat+ Republican+  N
All Faculty  72%  15%  50%  11%  (1643)
Social Sciences  75  9  55  7  (289)
Humanities  81  9  62  6  (449)
Other  67  20  43  15  (905)

Selected Departments

English Literature  88%  3%  69%  2%  (87)
Performing Arts  84  16  63  2  (31)
Psychology  84  8  63  7  (68)
Fine Arts  83  8  55  4  (36)
Theology/Religion  83  5  49  16  (26)
Political Science  81  2  58  8  (67)
Philosophy  80  5  62  11  (26)
History  77  10  70  4  (62)
Sociology  77  9  59  0  (61)
Biology  75  17  56  13  (59)
Communications  75  14  47  11  (66)
Music  74  8  56  6  (53)
Computer Science  74  26  43  21  (44)
Mathematics  69  17  43  15  (49)
Physics  66  11  48  5  (37)
Linguistics  65  11  64  2  (53)
Chemistry  64  29  41  25  (52)
Education  61  29  55  7  (88)
Economics  55  39  36  17  (44)
Nursing  53  47  32  26  (32)
Engineering  51  19  34  13  (90)
Business  49  39  26  26  (101)
* excludes middle-of-the-road
+ excludes third parties and independents

Finally, the NAASS instrument fleshed out political self-designations
with an index based on attitude items originally drawn from a 1995
survey of the attitudes of seven elite or "social leadership" groups in
the United States (see below and Appendix). Exploratory factor analysis
reveals that two factors account for the most variance in political
attitudes among the elite groups. One factor captures a social
liberalism dimensions while the other reflects what might be called
political liberalism (Rothman and Black, 1999).

A factor analysis of the same items in the NAASS produces similar
results. The six items that loaded most heavily on two general factors
were combined into an additive index. As Table 3 demonstrates, they fill
out the self-designations with a substantive portrait of the attitudes
of American college faculty on a range of social and political
controversies. The differences in attitudes are located not in the
extent of agreement so much as in the strength of agreement with the
liberal positions expressed. Thus, the level of agreement ranges from a
low of 66% who believe that the government should work to ensure full
employment to a high of 88% who favor greater environmental protection,
even at the cost of price increases or job losses. In addition, 84% are
pro-choice, 67% give a pro-gay rights response, 75% endorse cohabitation
without marital intentions, and 72% favor government action to reduce
income inequality. (The full item wordings are listed in the Appendix.)

Table 3. Responses of college professors to attitude items (%)
Strong  Somewhat Somewhat Strong  Don't
Agree  Agree  Disagree  Disagree  Know
Homosexual lifestyle as  44%  23  17  14  2
acceptable as heterosexual
Women's right to have  67%  17  7  7  1
Accept extramarital  50%  25  12  11  1
Government should  25%  41  23  11  0
guarantee employment
Government should reduce  38%  34  17  10  0
income gap
Protect environment despite 48%  40  9  2  1
higher prices, fewer jobs

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding. Source:
NAASS 1999 Survey
Somewhat greater attitude differences between social and economic
liberalism appear if we array these issues in terms of the percentage of
faculty who express strong agreement. Two-thirds (67%) strongly endorse
a pro-choice position on abortion, half (50%) feel the same about extra
marital cohabitation, and nearly as many strongly support more
environmental protection despite economic costs (48%) and the parity of
homosexual and heterosexual lifestyles (44%). The figures drop to 38%
who strongly support governmental reduction of income inequality and 25%
who strongly agree that the government should ensure full employment.

These findings are consistent with what one would expect given the
distributions of faculty self-identifications and party preferences.
They suggest an across the board commitment to positions that are
typically identified with contemporary liberal ideals. Further, this
commitment is strongest in the realm of social or "lifestyle" liberalism
than it is in economic liberalism. Because these six items provide
considerably more information and specificity than the other single-item
measures of political or social orientation, we combined them into an
arithmetic ideology index (see Appendix) for the multivariate analysis
that follows.

Findings--Ideology and Professional Status

The survey data confirm the first hypothesis, which posits a
predominance of liberal to left faculty on American college campuses.
But is there any merit to the claim that homogeneity makes it more
difficult for conservatives to enter and advance in the profession? That
proposition is more difficult to test systematically. In addition to the
finding that conservatives are underrepresented in college faculties, it
is necessary to show that conservative academics are hindered in their
career advancement, and that this disadvantage is not simply due to a
lack of merit on their part.

To address these issues we examined the correlation between quality of
academic affiliation (the dependent variable) and three measures of
ideological orientation--left-right self-identification, political party
identification, and the ideology index. The index scores were
standardized to a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 10. Higher
scores indicate more liberal attitudes and lower scores more
conservative attitudes.

An academic achievement index (see Appendix) was constructed from items
measuring the number of refereed journal articles, chapters in academic
books, books authored or co-authored, service on editorial boards of
academic journals, attendance at international meetings of one's
discipline, and proportion of time spent on research. This more
inclusive measure was highly correlated with a simple count of academic
publications. (Such counts have been criticized as simplistic or
unidimensional measures of achievement, hence our use of an index
including other factors.)

There are various emblems of individual success among academics, ranging
from monetary compensation to awards to chaired professorships. Perhaps
the most significant single indicator of the academic status hierarchy
is the quality of the college or university with which an individual is
affiliated. We can construct an institutional quality index (see
Appendix) by combining the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of
Teaching classification with the well-known US News & World Report
rankings of universities and colleges.

The widely used Carnegie classification divides schools into two levels
each of research universities, doctorate granting universities,
comprehensive universities and colleges, and liberal arts colleges.
Altogether these make up what are described as eight "tiers" of
institutions. While controversial among some quarters, the US News
rankings are widely used, and they are derived from an intuitively
reasonable and measurable set of variables, including peer ratings, test
scores of incoming students, resources available to students, etc. One
most frequently heard criticism is that the rankings measure
institutional reputation rather than quality of students' education; for
our purposes this is not necessarily a disadvantage.

US News places the best colleges and universities in its "national"
rankings. Institutions that do not make it into the national ranking are
ranked regionally. We modified US News' ratings by placing the
"national" institutions in the top four Carnegie tiers and the
"regional" institutions in the bottom four tiers, with the particular
tier determined by the school's ranking. The institutional status index
was standardized to a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 10.

To try to detect whether professional advancement is influenced by
ideological orientation over and above the effects of scholastic
achievement, we turned to a multivariate model in which the achievement
and politics of faculty are the key independent variables, and the
dependent variable is professional advancement.

The multivariate approach not only makes it possible to evaluate the
independent effects of many factors simultaneously, by measuring the
effect of each while all others are held constant, but it also allows us
to compare effects of different determinants on the quality of
institutional affiliation.

We entered each of the three measures of ideological orientation
separately into three equations. This was done to provide a comparison
of the statistical power of the various measures while avoiding problems
of multicollinearity. In addition to the political variables, we
included several other factors that have been cited as sources of
discrimination in other social contexts, among them race, religion,
gender, sexual orientation, and marital status.

Preliminary bivariate analysis showed an interactive relationship
between religion and institutional affiliation--institutional
affiliation was related to religion only among active practitioners
(defined as those attending services "at least once or twice a month").
Therefore we included "practicing Christians" and "practicing Jews" as
dummy variables in the equation. (Other religions contained too few
practitioners for statistically valid comparisons.)

Table 4 reports the unstandardized and standardized (beta) regression
coefficients and amount of variation explained when political ideology
and partisan orientation, respectively, were incorporated into models
used to predict the quality of institutional affiliation. Both the
ideology index and party affiliation, when entered into multiple
regression analyses, independently predict the quality of a subject's
institutional affiliation. As we would expect, academic achievement
matters the most in determining the quality of schools in which faculty
teach. But ideology is the second most powerful predictor in Model I
(beta=.09, p=.001), accounting for more than one-fifth as much variation
in quality of institutional affiliation as does achievement (beta=.39,
p=.001). That is, more liberal responses to the attitude questions
predict a significantly higher quality of institutional affiliation,
after controlling for scholarly achievement.

Second, religiosity is negatively related to quality of institutional
affiliation among practicing Christians (beta=-.06, p=.05), but not
among Jews. The other variable that is a statistically significant
contributor to the equation is gender: Being female is a negative
predictor of institutional quality (beta=-.07, p=.01). None of the other
potential sources of discrimination for which we have measures is
significantly related to the dependent variable. Overall, this
regression model explains just under 20% of the variation in the quality
of schools in which faculty teach.

This analysis confirms the expected impact of achievement on
professional status, but it also suggests that ideology plays an
independent role. In effect, the ideological orientations of professors
are about one-fifth as important as their professional achievements in
determining the quality of the school that hires and retains or promotes
them. In addition to conservatives, our analysis finds that women and
religiously observant Christians are disadvantaged in their placement in
the institutional hierarchy, after taking their professional
achievements into account.

Model II shows that similar results are obtained when political party
identification is substituted for ideology in the equation. The same
four variables predict quality of institutional affiliation, although
the role of Christian religiosity, which was significant only at the .05
level in Model I, is more clearly evident (beta=-.08, p=.001). Once
again, achievement accounts for the lion's share of variation, but
Republicans, women, and practicing Christians fare significantly worse
than their colleagues at similar levels of achievement.

Table 4. Variables associated with quality of school in which faculty
Model I  Model II
Unstandardized  Standardized  Unstandardized Standardized
coefficients  coefficients   coefficients   coefficients
Ideology index  .084***  .086
Republican  -2.547**  -.073
Independent  -.982  -.042
Female  -1.743**  -.069  -1.692**  -.067
Black****  1.706  .026  1.405  .021
Asian  1.333  .025  1.246  .024
Gay or lesbian  1.296  .025  1.375  .026
Married  .710  .028  .601  .023
Practicing Jewish  1.041  .019  1.058  .020
Practicing Christian  -1.402*  -.063  -1.788***  -.081
Faculty achievement index  .433***  .388  .436***  .391
Constant  46.959***  55.913***
Adjusted R squared  .197  .196
N  1562  1562

* Significant at the .05 level; ** significant at the .01 level, ***
significant at the .001 level. ****Historically Black colleges are
excluded from this analysis.

Finally, although the left-right self-designation was significantly
related to institutional affiliation on a bivariate level, the
relationship disappears in a multivariate context. The results for the
other variables are nearly identical to those obtained in the other
models, as is the overall level of explained variation. Therefore, this
relatively poor showing may reflect the imprecision of the left-right
self-designation in capturing ideological orientation, relative to an
index derived from responses to specific issues.

To summarize, the second hypothesis is confirmed when socio-political
orientation is operationalized in terms of ideological attitudes or
party identification, although not as left-right self-designation. These
results show that individual scholarly achievement is by far the most
important factor in predicting the quality of a professor's
institutional affiliation. But being a Republican or conservative
significantly reduces the predicted quality of the college or university
where he or she teaches, after taking scholarly achievement into

In addition, the regressions uncovered some relationships that clearly
warrant further research, principally the role of gender and religiosity
in academic advancement. The contemporary debate over discrimination
against female faculty in hiring and promotion is beyond the scope of
this paper, although our data seem to provide prima facie support for
this allegation. We are not aware of similar allegations of
discrimination on the basis of religion, but this is clearly a topic
that demands greater scrutiny on the basis of our findings. We plan to
pursue some of these questions in forthcoming papers.

The analysis also suggests that being male confers a significant
advantage. However, no competitive advantage is conferred by being black
or white, gay or straight, married or single. Thus, when the logic of
testing for differential outcomes according to race, gender, ethnicity,
and sexual orientation is applied to ideology and religion, being a
conservative, a Republican or a practicing Christian confers a
disadvantage in professional advancement greater than any of these other


The purpose of this study was to inquire as to whether data from a large
scale summary of American Academic institutions sheds any light on the
contentious debate over the political culture of academia. Is it true
that most professors in American colleges and universities are left of
center politically? And is there any evidence to indicate that this
ideological homogeneity hinders the professional advancement of
political conservatives?

To test these hypotheses we made use of the 1999 North American Academic
Study Survey, the most systematic and comprehensive data set on the
characteristics of American college faculty since the Carnegie surveys
that were conducted between 1969 and 1984. First, we examined the
political party preferences of faculty members, their ideological
self-descriptions on a left-right scale, and their views on
controversial social issues, ranging from government intervention in the
economy to environmental protection to abortion rights.

The results show that the political orientation of the professoriate is
tilted toward liberal attitudes and the Democratic Party. Further, the
predominance of liberal and Democratic perspectives is not limited to
particular types of institutions or to those occupying particular fields
of study. A comparison of the 1999 survey with previous surveys of
American faculty indicates a substantial shift to the left in party
identification and ideology since the mid-1980s, at a time when
ideological and party identification among the general public has been
relatively stable.

Second, multivariate analysis of the available data show that even after
taking into account the effects of academic achievement, along with many
other individual characteristics, conservatives and Republicans taught
at lower quality schools than did liberals and Democrats. The results do
not definitively prove that ideology accounts for differences in
professional standing. It is entirely possible that other unmeasured
factors may account for those variations. That said, the results are
consistent with the hypothesis that political conservatism confers a
disadvantage in the competition for professional advancement.

These results suggest that conservative complaints of the presence and
effects of liberal homogeneity in academia deserve to be taken
seriously, despite their self-interested quality and the anecdotal
nature of the evidence previously presented. In conjunction with other
recent studies, our findings suggest strongly that a leftward shift has
occurred on college campuses in recent years, to the extent that
political conservatives have become an endangered species in some

Our findings on the more controversial issue of discrimination against
conservative faculty should be regarded as more preliminary. Indeed, if
the findings are interpreted in this way, then they raise questions
about the professional status of women and observant Christians in
academia as well. To our knowledge this is the first time this sort of
empirical analysis has been applied to this question, and there may be
much more to learn from additional data analysis or examination of other
data sets. Our goal is to draw attention to the application of rigorous
methods to evaluate this controversy systematically, rather than letting
the debate deteriorate into anecdotal charges and counter-charges. Our
statistical analysis suggests that conservatives may have a legitimate
complaint. The important thing is that their complaint be evaluated by
methods that minimize the impact of the strong feelings that such
disputes bring out on both sides.


Composition of indices:

The Ideology Index includes six questions that measure respondents'
views on political and social issues: "The government should work to
ensure that everyone has a job" (codes reversed); "Government should
work to reduce the income gap between rich and poor" (responses
reversed); "More environmental protection is needed, even if it raises
prices or costs jobs;" "Homosexuality is as acceptable a lifestyle as
heterosexuality" (responses reversed); "It is a woman's right to decide
whether or not to have an abortion" (responses reversed); and "It is
alright for a couple to live together without intending to get married"
(responses reversed). A Cronbach's alpha of .79 was computed for the
index, indicating high inter-item correlation.

The Institutional Quality Index is based on the Carnegie Foundation and
US News & World Report rankings of universities and colleges. The best
colleges and universities in the US are listed in the US News national
rankings. Institutions that do not make it into the national ranking are
ranked within each region of the US, e.g. North East. We have modified
US News' tiers by placing the "National" institutions in Tiers 1 through
4 and the "Regional" institutions in Tiers 5-8. Tier 1 is the most
prestigious and Tier 8 the least prestigious. The index is recoded so
that higher score means higher quality. The institutional quality index
is standardized to the mean of 100 and the standard deviation of 10.

The Academic Achievement Index includes the following questions from the
1999 Academic Study Survey: "Within the past five years, and counting
anything now in press, how many articles, if any, have you published in
refereed journals, or as chapters in academic books?;" "Again, within
the past five years, and counting anything now in press, how many books,
if any, have you authored or co-authored?;" "Have you served on the
editorial board of an academic journal?;" "How often, if at all, do you
attend the international meetings of your discipline?; and "All things
considered, what percentage of your working time would you say you spend
on research?" A Cronbach's alpha of .70 was computed for the index,
indicating high inter-item correlation.


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