why are professors so liberal?

There have been a variety of answers to this question. Some claim that academia was liberalized during the Vietnam war and that this bias continued as professors admitted only like minded talent into the profession. Others claim, in an offensively question-begging way, that liberal people are smarter, thus the dearth of conservative academics.

This article in the NYT however claims that being a professor is seen as liberal, and so only attracts those who see such a liberal life as desirable, just as nursing is sexually colored; the profession doesn’t attract men.

The problem with the analysis in this article is that the explanation it offers is pretty limited. Yes, the job of being a professor is seen as liberal, but why is it seen this way? It wasn’t always seen that way, and in fact, used to be a bastion of conservatism in many respects, as it still is in some departments.

It seems that the job of professor is seen as liberal because academia is mostly populated with liberals and interested in ideas that typically engage liberal sentiments such as equality and a just society, but of course this is just the problem that we started with, which is: why is academia filled with liberals? The typecasting explanation offers only a circular answer — academia is filled with liberals because people think academia is filled with liberals. The article, after introducing this typecasting explanation, just goes on to then offer several more explanations that would explain, in non-circular terms, why academia is liberal. But then, I would have thought the article would have started with these explanations.


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