A new study co-authored by academics out of Paris and UC Berkeley has found that students tend to rate male professors higher than their female counterparts—even when their male instructors are total cornball Gilderoy Lockhearts and their female educators are badass McGonagalls. Accio inherent gender bias!
Economist Anne Boring (lead author of the study) was hired by Science Po in Paris to, according to NPR, “conduct quantitative analysis of gender bias. Through her conversations with instructors and students, she became suspicious of what she calls ‘double standards’ applying to male and female instructors.”
Boring then partnered up with Kellie Ottoboni and Philip Stark (both of UC Berkeley) to extend the study to include both French and American students. Through statistical testing, the researchers found—curiously—that while French male students were more likely to give male professors higher ratings than female professors, the American data set showed the opposite: Female students tended to favor male professors over female—regardless of the professor’s skills or teaching style.
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.
Also interesting to note: The professors’ ratings did not correlate with students’ test scores, meaning teachers with high ratings (mostly men) did not produce higher test results from their pupils. This implies that ratings are not indicative of the professors’ talent in the classroom.
The study’s authors argue that schools should do away with student evaluations completely. Or, as a more extreme (and socially frowned upon) option, they could just do away with men.
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Image via Harry Potter/Warner Bros.