Wednesday, December 08, 2004

More on Bias in the Academy

Stephen Bainbridge has weighed in on the discussion on liberal bias within the academy, but adds that, in his experience, the bias is less overt and more from the current state of academic networking.
In most cases, a candidate's best chance of surviving the winnowing process is for someone on the committee to become the candidate's champion. The champion will pull the candidate's resume out of the slush pile and make sure it gets flagged for close review. Because most law schools lack a critical mass of libertarian and conservative faculty members, however, there is nobody predisposed to pulling conservative candidates' AALS forms out of the slush pile....In contrast, the latest left-leaning prodigy from Harvard or Yale has a mentor at one of those schools who makes calls to his/her buddies and ideological soulmates at other law schools. The recipients of those calls then flag the prodigy's file, giving them a critical leg-up in the process. Law school hiring tends to be driven by the self-perpetuating network of left-leaning senior faculty.

It may not be deliberate bias, but there still is a disparate impact.
Bainbridge believes that conservatives and libertarians should address the problem not through some sort of academic/intellectual affirmative action, "but we should insist that the pool of candidates not be artificially constricted by either the old or the new networks." Good luck.

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