Online teachers get higher ratings when students think they're male


Its not a massive sample, is it?

When I was in teacher’s college, most of the research papers involving studies of students were written by one or two teachers trying out things in their own classrooms.

You want a larger study involving many different schools over a long period of time? For the science of it, it should be done, but because it’s education, even college-level education, the bureaucracy and ethics debates make it difficult very, very quickly. More feasible is to do a series of small studies like this and then have the researchers compare notes with each other. Fingers crossed that now that this paper had been published, more schools will replicate the experiment and compare results.


No, but it provides evidence that a larger study (possibly over several different course topics) is worth while.


I knew that was coming in the comments here, but didn’t quite expect it to be the FIRST comment. Sigh.

Ask women who teach; this study merely confirms common knowledge among them.

Like other professionals who recognizably exist in other subjugated groups, most wome who teach know that generally, they aren’t automatically granted the same levels of authority and respect that men are. Getting that kind of respect (and thus, for one thing, higher teaching evaluations) means dressing more professionally, acting more strict and “in control,” constantly performing a balancing act between “friendly” and “bitchy,” and yes, as the study’s results exemplify, having grades challenged more often.


I was going to comment that I thought it odd that people would rate people on their interpersonal skills when they hadn’t seen or heard them, then I realised I do that here :smile:

Maybe someone should set up a poll to do this for regular users here? (No. No they shouldn’t).


Maybe people expect more from a female teacher.

There’s plenty of studies already that show that women, people of color, and queer people get lower ratings when they teach in-person classes. This just adds the online dimension and thus the opportunity for a study that separates out gender prejudice from any actual differences in teaching style.

And yet, all of us who are faculty still have our retention and advancement tied to these evals. It’s hateful.


Welcome to sexism!


Er, yeah, that’s pretty much the point…and the problem.

Are you saying they SHOULD expect more from a female teacher?

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I think it’s a fair observation, though. It almost certainly matches reality, but it’s just an observation that it’s not really a proper study.

Heck, I’ve noticed that when I use the handle I usually use on websites, one that ends in ‘a’, people, especially those who speak Romance languages, behave badly toward me until they figure out I’m a dude.


That implies something more is at work than just higher expectations for female teachers. I can’t say I’ve ever heard someone say that queer folk are always better teachers (although I have frequently heard that stereotype applied to women). Better interior decorators and hair stylists, yes, all the time, but never better teachers.

Cloud research :smiley:

I think what it comes down to is that people have prejudices and think worse of certain groups and then apply a rationale to that after the fact. Give a female teacher a worse rating, get confronted, and think to yourself, 'It must be because I’ve had such good experiences with female teachers that I expected more of them."

The reasoning comes after, so basically it’s hogwash.

It’s not that it’s impossible to have a good reason to think one thing over another, it’s just that an awful lot of the time we should of people’s reasoning about why they feel certain ways (including our own). First we feel things, then we go to work trying to make sure we aren’t called stupid for feeling them.


A future version of this test might include making it double blind, so that the teachers don’t know if they are being presented as male or female to remove any unconscious bias on the their part.


The explanations are multiple:

Students seem to expect female professors to be more “caring” and “nurturing,” so women get dinged harder than men for not giving extensions on assignments, assigning lots of reading, not giving in to students’ sob stories about why they should get harder grades, etc. Female professors also get criticized about their appearance a lot - too frumpy, too sexy, too young, too old, too much makeup, not enough makeup, etc.

Queer people and people of color (and women who identify as feminists) get slammed for being “biased” in their teaching, for having an “agenda,” for disliking [insert whatever majority group here], for being “angry,” and also for having high standards (being “mean” or “uncaring”). (They also get assigned to teach general courses on multiculturalism more often, and those courses always get lower ratings even when taught by white men, so minorities are more likely to get double dinged - for being who they are, and for the class content.)

People of color get rated as less professional, less competent, less experienced, etc. no matter what their actual objective years in the field are. They also get labeled angry, abrasive, loud, etc.

So there you go.


My weasel word detector is off the scale.

What part of the study is flawed?

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I “liked” your post because you gave us all (and particularly me) some insight, but if there was a “hate” button I’d use that for the situation you describe. :angry:


Yep. You really do have to work harder to gain your students respect at the beginning of the semester (the male grad students just tend to get it right off), and they really are harder on you in the evaluations. On top of that, there is almost always that one guy - it’s nearly always a guy too - who just will never give you the respect for getting to the point of working a PhD in your field. I’d guess it’s even tougher in STEM fields, too.


What more should we do than our male colleagues? I don’t understand why I should be held to a different standard in my work and my teaching than my male colleagues? Why should I have to put up with that?

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