diet coke for breakfast

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Posted by Jake
Lonely Campus Voices

The most common advice conservative students get is to keep their views in the closet. Will Inboden was working on a master's degree in U.S. history at Yale when a liberal professor pulled him aside after class and said: "You're one of the best students I've got, and you could have an outstanding career. But I have to caution you: hiring committees are loath to hire political conservatives. You've got to be really quiet."

I think we can all say from our personal experience that this difficulty is not limited to graduate programs.

Nor is it limited to the humanities, although it takes a very different form. Scientists have political affiliations and usually have no problems expressing them, albeit more subtly -- political cartoons on lab doors and off-the-cuff comments during lectures. Most of the opinions I have heard expressed are liberal.

I don't think that there is outright discrimination against conservatives in the sciences (at least I haven't seen any). I have noticed that most people in the sciences do question either my sanity or my intelligence when I tell them about my political views: "You are not really going to vote for Bush are you?!". This might manifest itself in hiring decisions, but I doubt it.

Differences in views do result in interesting differences in career paths. There is a parallel exodus of conservative scientists into the private sector, particularly into the pharmaceutical industry. Most liberal scientists scoff at the idea of working in the private sector and ridicule any profit motivated science as tainted. Corporate science thus becomes the realm of those who are not hostile too it. This is a shame because someone working at Merck is actually helping a lot of people directly -- a lot more than someone working in pure science.

UPDATE: Juan Non-Volokh from the Volokh Conspiracy comments on similar experiences and has a wrap-up of other commentary.


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