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Study Shows That Male and Female Students Hold Female Professors to Gender-Based Double Standard


A recent joint French-American study has revealed that, when it comes to student evaluations of university professors, both male and female students tend to rate male professors more highly than their female counterparts, regardless of test scores or their own actual performance in classes.

Economist Anne Boring was hired by a company called Science Po in Paris to lead a study in gender bias in academia. She then teamed up with Kellie Ottoboni and Philip Stark out of UC Berkeley to expand the study to American students. Their findings are pretty sad.

When studying the French students, male students tended to rate male professors more highly. However, among American students, both male and female students tended to rate male professors more highly regardless of the individual professor’s style or skills.

NPR describes how the testing was done:

The French students were, in effect, randomly assigned to either male or female section leaders in a wide range of required courses. In this case, the study authors found, male French students rated male instructors more highly across the board. […]

The American case was a little bit different. Here, the authors performed new analysis of a clever experiment published in 2014. Students were taking a single online class with either a male or female instructor. In half the cases, the instructors agreed to dress in virtual drag: The men used the women’s names and vice versa.

Female professors who demand excellence are thought of as “bitchy,” whereas male professors are thought to be “tough but fair.” What’s more, when the students were tested at the end, their test scores in each of the professors’ classes didn’t correlate with the professors’ ratings. In other words, the evaluations don’t even really do the job they’re supposed to be doing, which is give an indication of how the professor is doing his or her job. They are simply a reflection of the gender biases of the students, nothing more.

Which makes a great case for why student evaluations could be done away with entirely and not factor into professor reviews as much as they do.

What do you think? Any professors out there able to speak to this issue at all? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

(via Jezebel)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.