According to a 2007 working study, a mere 6.6 percent of college professors are Republicans.

What is live like for this beleagured minority?

Claremont McKenna government professor Jon A. Shields and University of Colorado-Colorado Springs political scientist and Joshua M. Dunn Sr. interviewed 153 of this rare species to find out what life is like for conservatives on campus.

In a Wall Street Journal piece headlined "Campus Unicorns: Conservative Teachers," they reveal some of their findings:

Many conservative professors said they felt socially isolated. A political scientist told us that he became a local pariah for defending the Iraq war in his New England college town, which he called “Cuba with bad weather.” One sociologist stated the problem well: “To say a strong conservative political opinion with conviction in an academic gathering is analogous to uttering an obscenity.” A prominent social scientist at a major research university spoke of the strain of concealing his political views from his colleagues—of “lying to people all the time.”

Some even said that bias had complicated their career advancement. A historian of Latin America told us that he suffered professionally after writing a dissertation on “middle-class white guys” when it was fashionable to focus on the “agency of subaltern peoples.” Though he doesn’t think the work branded him as a conservative, it certainly didn’t excite the intellectual interest of his peers.

A similarly retrograde literature professor sought advice from a colleague after struggling to land a tenure-track job. He was told that he had “a nice resume for 1940.” As Neil Gross has shown, liberal professors often believe that conservatives are closed-minded. If you got to choose your colleagues, would you hire someone you thought fit that description?

Shields and Dunn found that the conservative faculty were "surprisingly sympathetic" to their liberal colleagues, who sincerely believed, they said, that they treated the conservative minority well. Some conservative professors even suggested that one is able to think more creatively in the minority.

But the homogeneity has its costs: :

That underlines an important point: Political bias expresses an intellectual orientation—one that inclines us to find some questions more important and some explanations more plausible. Because of this, none of us can rely on our fellow partisans to identify flaws in our thinking. Building an academic community with varied biases, then, is essential to the very health of the social sciences. Political uniformity makes it difficult to converge on the best approximation of the truth.

It’s true that in some happy cases social science is self-correcting. But it can take a very long time. Sociologists spent decades playing down the importance of two-parent households before finally admitting that family structure matters. As a conservative in the field told us: “Basically, sociology had to be dragged kicking and screaming until it recognized that broken families aren’t a good thing. It’s like, if you have to spend decades and millions of dollars in [National Science Foundation] grants to convince astronomers that the sun rises in the east.”

The authors don't advocate that colleges and universities be required to consider conservatives applicants but rather that they encourage a tolerance for real diversity. That way their own views would be challenged and would have to be defended–which is what academic culture used to foster. They also say that conservatives should cease to discourage young people from pursuing careers in academis.

If you are interested in Shields' and Dunn's research, their book Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University is just out.