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Groundbreaking research by Neil Gross and Ethan Fosse finds that the academic profession has been typecast as “liberal.” As a result, this label influences the way people think about the profession and the choices individuals make about whether or not to join the Academy. While Gross and Fosse are quick to diminish claims that there is liberal bias in academics, they do note that control (over who does and does not “get in”) is one of the features given to professors in exchange for lower salaries. Still, the researchers claim that general public perception of the profession does more to determine who will gravitate toward those jobs than anything else.

QUESTIONS:

  1. In what ways is typecasting similar to stereotyping? How might typecasting affect the way colleagues perceive and interact with one another?
  2. Examine the Big Five personality dimensions. In general, how does each dimension relate to the academic profession? How might the expression of these dimensions support liberal philosophies and run counter to the conservative philosophies?
  3. Assume the research is accurate (i.e., there is a strong political orientation in academics). How would being conservative or being liberal influence an individual professor’s attitudes and job satisfaction? Would differences explain why liberals might be more committed to academic professions than conservatives?

SOURCE: P. Cohen, “Professor Is a Label That Leans to the Left,” New York Times (Retrievable online at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/18/arts/18liberal.html?scp=1&sq=liberal%20professors&st=cse)

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