Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Why Conservatives Don’t Get Doctorates

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Mr. Maranto asked the Woessners to contribute a chapter to his book on why conservatives don’t pursue doctorates. Typically, he says, there are a few answers to the question. Liberals say conservatives want to make more money than professors earn, while conservatives argue that they get less encouragement from professors than liberal students do. What the Woessners found, though, is that those are not the only reasons. They looked at a 2004 survey of 15,569 college seniors completed by the University of California at Los Angeles’s Higher Education Research Institute. That research showed that while liberal students were more likely than conservative students to have contact with professors outside the classroom and to do research with them, the difference was not enough to explain why so many more liberal students wanted to pursue Ph.D’s.

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.

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

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.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 19, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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