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Academic Questions

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 402–411 | Cite as

Political Disparities in the Academy: It’s More Than Self-Selection

  • John Paul WrightEmail author
  • Ryan T. Motz
  • Timothy S. Nixon
ARTICLES

Many academic disciplines have few if any conservatives in their ranks. The disparity between conservative underrepresentation in the academy and their significant presence in the general population has been well-documented, but the question of why the disparity exists is more difficult to answer.1 Using a nationwide sample of university faculty collected from 1959–1964 by Henry A. Turner and Charles B. Spalding, we find evidence that self-selection—conservatives choosing careers outside of academia—explains only part of the disparity. A strong self-selection position would suggest that party affiliation is stable over time and usually established prior to entering graduate school.2 These data, however, show that of the faculty who changed their party affiliation, the majority did so afterbecoming faculty members. This finding strongly suggests that pre-existing political characteristics of each discipline, not just of individuals who enter those disciplines, influence the likelihood...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Paul Wright
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ryan T. Motz
    • 1
  • Timothy S. Nixon
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Criminal JusticeUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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