Politics & Policy

Will Your Sociology Professors Talk behind Your Back if You’re Conservative? They Just Might


‘Will everyone be whispering about you behind your back because you’re a Republican? Yes.”

I was sitting across from a senior sociology professor of a respected institution in the Northeast when I heard these words earlier this year. It was a one-on-one meeting for newly admitted (though not yet matriculated) grad students.

I knew both the Northeast and sociology tended to lean left, but it wasn’t exactly how I expected to be welcomed to the program. My undergrad degree is from a liberal northeastern school, so I’m used to being in the minority, but if my professors there had any thoughts about my ideological beliefs, they either kept them to themselves (to my knowledge) or engaged in amicable discussion.

At the introductory dinner the night before, I was repeatedly asked where I worked. “The American Enterprise Institute,” I answered.

The professors’ eyebrows raised, one venturing with a confused look. “Last time I checked, they were pretty conservative. Have they done a 180 since then?”

“No,” I replied cheerfully, “and I love working there.” The professor gave a half-smile and moved on to another student without another word.

I have been advised in the past that if I want to enter sociology and be taken seriously, I have to be discreet about my conservative background. (My interest is really social policy, but I seriously considered entering that field via a master’s in sociology.) My résumé is almost entirely made up of conservative activities, however, so “discreet” isn’t really possible. After seeing the openly surprised faces of the professors when they learned I work at a generally right-leaning, though technically non-partisan, think tank, I decided to be candid in our individual meetings. It seemed only fair to know what I’d be signing up for if I went there.

I mentioned to a professor who had been in the department for decades the surprised response to my workplace the night before and asked, “Is it unusual to have conservatives in the department?”

“Sociology is a pretty liberal field. Let’s see . . . we had one once . . . ” He thought hard before mentioning a professor who used to be in the department. “I know he voted Republican.” That was the end of his list. And that’s when he told me everyone would whisper behind my back.

“But it shouldn’t really be an issue . . . it’s not like you’re going for a Ph.D.!” I’d have to be careful then — that’s much more complicated, he explained. As a master’s student I’d be pretty harmless, since my original work would be limited and the degree was more about skills, not research. Nothing to worry about.

Trying to stifle my rising indignation, I inquired, “Interesting. Why do you think sociology tends to be more liberal?”

“Because sociologists like to look under the rug and find out what people want to keep hidden.” He raised a pretend rug. “They ask the hard questions.” I guess we conservatives like to keep that rug down. He continued, “Now political theory — if you go over there, that tends to be more of a conservative department.”

I smiled, “Well, I can’t help what I’m interested in.”

“True,” he said, with a little sigh.

After our discussion finished, I asked one more question before I left. “Would I be a good fit here?”

He diplomatically hedged: “You’re very bright — I’m sure you’ll do well wherever you choose to go.”

I hope he’s right. Only a couple hours after that meeting, I was accepted into (and will be attending) my first-choice policy program at another institution. But I can’t help wondering what would have happened if I had entered sociology.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Media See Only One Collusion Story

President Trump is opening a whole new chapter in the war between him and the investigators pursuing him. Today, he tweeted: “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political ... Read More

In Appreciation, and against (Too Much) Nostalgia

To put it a little self-pityingly: It seems that my gurus are going, and the world’s. Richard Pipes, the great historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, died on Thursday; Bernard Lewis, the great historian of the Middle East, died yesterday. We had them both for a long time. Pipes was born in 1923, Lewis way ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Keeping Catholic Foster Care in Philly

Last week, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed a complaint in a Pennsylvania district court on behalf of foster parents working with Catholic Social Services at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Despite issuing a recent plea for more people to step up as candidates for foster parents, the city of ... Read More

Comedians Are Catching On

The comedians are beginning to catch on. Over the weekend -- just one week after featuring a bevy of top-line Hollywood stars impersonating members of the Trump administration, as well as a cameo by a vengeful Stormy Daniels asking for President Trump’s resignation -- Saturday Night Live finally acknowledged ... Read More
PC Culture

The Nature of Progressive Insensitivity

Former vice president Joe Biden is back in the news yet again. For a second time, he seems surprised that poor residents of the inner city are capable of doing sophisticated jobs: We don't think ordinary people can do things like program, code. It's not rocket science, guys. So, we went and we hired some folks ... Read More

The Feminization of Everything Fails Our Boys

Let me share with you two troubling — and, I believe, closely linked — news reports. The first, from this weekend, comes courtesy of the American Enterprise Institute’s Mark Perry. In one chart, he highlights the dramatic and growing gender gap in higher education. In short, women are dominating: ... Read More