Study Finds a Hidden Bias by Students Against Women Faculty Members

ncsu logoA new study led by Lillian MacNell, a doctoral student in sociology at North Carolina State University, identifies a gender bias among college students in their evaluation of faculty members. Ratings of faculty members by students are considered by college and university administrators in decisions on tenure, retention, and promotion. “And if the results of these evaluations are inherently biased against women, we need to find ways to address that problem,” MacNell says

In MacNell’s study, students in an online course were divided into four groups. A woman led two groups and a man led the other two groups. But the woman and man each told one of their discussion groups that they were the different gender. The format of the online course did not allow students to either see or hear the voice of the instructor. All communications were in written form.

At the end of the course, students were asked to rate the instructor on 12 measures of competency. “We found that the instructor whom students thought was male received higher ratings on all 12 measures, regardless of whether the instructor was actually male or female,” MacNell said.

The article, “What’s in a Name: Exposing Gender Bias in Student Ratings of Teaching,” was published on the website of the journal Innovative Higher Education. It may be accessed here.


Filed Under: Research/Study


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