Sean Stevens is Heterodox Academy’s Research Director
Over at the Washington Post, Catherine Rampell reviews some newly released data from the 2016 Freshman Survey, conducted by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute. The data suggests college campuses are more politically polarized now than at any point in the past four decades and that the number of incoming students identifying as “far left” has hit a record high. This latter trend may, in part, be driven by gender:
The shrinking of the middle is largely due to a recent rise in the share of women (who also represent a majority of college students) who identify as either liberal or far left. The share of female respondents, but not male respondents, who describe their political views this way was at an all-time high (41.1 percent for women, 28.9 percent for men). Left-wing views peaked for men way back in 1971, at 43.6 percent …
Another milestone was hit this year: the largest gender gap in self-reported liberalism to date (12.2 percentage points).
Rampell notes that it is difficult to hold colleges responsible for this shift towards the political left – suggesting the forces behind this shift start earlier:
And before you blame colleges for liberal indoctrination, remember these were newly enrolled students, surveyed in the fall of their freshman year. That is, they arrived on campus with these political beliefs.