Gender bias in student evaluations: Professors of online courses who present as male get better marks.
So, this happened.
The results were astonishing. Students gave professors they thought were male much higher evaluations across the board than they did professors they thought were female, regardless of what gender the professors actually were. When they told students they were men, both the male and female professors got a bump in ratings. When they told the students they were women, they took a hit in ratings. Because everything else was the same about them, this difference has to be the result of gender bias.
Could be that teaching primary school is seen as a woman's profession, while university teaching is a man's pursuit.
“The difference in the promptness rating is a good example for discussion,” MacNell explains in the press release for the study. "Classwork was graded and returned to students at the same time by both instructors. But the instructor students thought was male was given a 4.35 rating out of 5. The instructor students thought was female got a 3.55 rating.” Considering that professors were rated on a five-point scale, losing an entire point on the "promptness" question just because students think you're female is a major hit.
That's pretty damning evidence, really.
This particular study is small, so we shouldn't get carried away about its results. But it certainly suggests an important avenue for future research. Students penalized the perceived female professor in all 12 categories, including in qualities that women are usually assumed to excel at, such as being caring and respectful. This comports with other studies that show that while female professors are judged somewhat less harshly if they conform more to female stereotypes, men still get bonus points for showing up male.
I genuinely hope that the marks I'm given by my students aren't simply--at least, in part--because of my gender. I like to think it's because I deserve them.