Survey: Gender-Critical Feminists Face More Discrimination than Conservatives

In this March 14, 2019, file photo students walk on the Stanford University campus in Santa Clara, Calif. Even with a fresh victory on behalf of international students, U.S. universities fear they’re losing a broader fight over the nation’s reputation as a place that embraces and fosters the world’s best …
AP Photo/Ben Margot

A survey studying political discrimination in the world of higher education in the US, UK, and Canada found feminists who are critical of transgender ideology are at higher risk for discrimination than conservatives.

A study based on the survey data was released March 1 by the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology (CSPI), which claims it is the “first of its kind to investigate authoritarianism and political discrimination in academia.”

Eric Kaufmann, the report’s author and professor of politics at the University of London, wrote that, based on surveys of the opinions of academics and graduate students conducted in the United States, the UK, and Canada, “a significant portion of academics discriminate against conservatives in hiring, promotion, grants and publications.”

He explained the data in an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal (WSJ):

Political discrimination is pervasive: 4 in 10 American academics indicated in a survey this summer that they would not hire a known Trump supporter for a job. In Canada, the share is 45%, while in Britain, 1 in 3 academics wouldn’t hire a Brexit supporter. Between one-fifth and half of academics and graduate students are willing to discriminate against right-leaning grant applications, journal submissions and promotion cases. On a four-person panel, this virtually guarantees that a conservative will face discrimination.

However, feminists critical of transgender ideology appear to experience even more discrimination than conservatives, Kaufmann said:

Only 28% of American academics say they would be comfortable sitting with a gender-critical scholar over lunch, less even than the 41% who would sit with a Trump-voting colleague. Somehow this has become acceptable in a way it never would be for a person from a religious, as opposed to political, minority.

The hostile climate in academia is pervasive, as Kaufmann described in the report, with nine in ten Trump-supporting academics in the social sciences and humanities admitting to feeling discomfort in speaking with colleagues about their views. Similarly, eight in ten Brexit supporters in academia in the UK experience the same level of distress.

“More than half of North American and British conservative academics admit self-censoring in research and teaching,” he stated, adding:

Younger academics and PhD students, especially in the United States, are significantly more willing than older academics to support dismissing controversial scholars from their posts, indicating that the problem of progressive authoritarianism is likely to get worse in the coming years.

Kaufmann said the adoption of a laissez-faire attitude toward the problem of such pervasive hostility has failed to make it disappear, and his report reveals the details.

“Few academics want to cancel their controversial colleagues, but a growing minority discriminates against them and isn’t actively opposed to their cancellation,” he wrote at the WSJ. “This helps explain why there isn’t enough internal pressure to protect academic freedom. The problem is now spilling off campus.”

Kaufmann maintains only a “proactive approach” can alleviate the situation. For example, he noted a recent policy announced in the UK whereby public universities “are to be audited and potentially fined for academic freedom violations each year by the government.”

“In the U.S., state or federal authorities must regulate public universities to ensure they protect the First Amendment rights of staff and students and don’t discriminate against political minorities,” he continued. “Unless reforms come from outside the academy, universities will continue to be monocultures in which conservative ideas aren’t given a fair hearing.”

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