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Ames, Barker, Bonneau and Carman on Whether Academia Discriminates Against Conservatives

Abstract: Do conservatives suffer discrimination in academe? In “Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty,” Rothman, Lichter, and Nevitte argue that “conservatives and Republicans teach at lower quality schools than do liberals and Democrats.” Using a survey of 1643 faculty members from 183 four-year colleges and universities, they conclude that their results are “consistent with the hypothesis that political conservatism confers a disadvantage in the competition for political advancement.” In this response, we show that Rothman, Lichter, and Nevitte’s work is plagued by theoretical and methodological problems that render their conclusions unsustainable by the available evidence. Furthermore, we offer an alternative hypothesis theoretically consistent with their findings. Unfortunately, we were unable to subject our alternative hypothesis to empirical assessment (or even to replicate the initial results of Rothman, Lichter and Nevitte) since they have refused to make their data available to the scientific community.

Barry Ames, David C. Barker, Chris W. Bonneau, and Chris J. Carman (2007), “Hide the Republicans, the Christians, and the Women: A Response to “Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty,” unpublished paper. Available here.

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