No Bias

Forget the stupid click-baity title and read the article that demonstrates what I always knew: there is no gender bias in student evaluations of teaching.


4 thoughts on “No Bias”

  1. Just curious, when did student evaluations of college / university professors become commonplace? In all my years in college and medical school, I was NEVER asked to give any sort of feedback on ANY teacher.


    1. I think they were put in in the 60s. I oddly do not remember filling them out, but remember getting my first batch in the 70s, when I started being a TA, and they were normal to have.


  2. This is anecdotal, but in my team-teaching experiences, the male members of the team almost always get better reviews than the women. In my sections of Humanities, I’ve been about equally criticized and praised in the school-based evals, but one of my male colleagues is almost universally praised. My two female colleagues in my sections are always blasted. (One deserves it, but the other does not.) The night-class sections with two men and one woman always has better reviews for the men. We’ve talked about the evals in our team meetings and noted the gender differences. I’ve been gathering info about gender discrimination in student evals, and it appears that there’s a lot of support for the idea that women and people of color are discriminated against.

    The article linked takes its data from, which, to me, is very unreliable as a source. As you know, I regularly teach 200 students per semester, and yet, I only have 5 student ratings from the last 5 years on RMP. I don’t really think that the 5 ratings I have available are accurate indications of my abilities as a teacher. Three are positive, and 2 are negative. The 2 negative reviews are clearly people with bones to pick. One uses “opinionated” and “boring” to describe my teaching, and another says I don’t accept any interpretation but my own. These are complaints often made against female professors at my school, whether they are true or not.

    Institutionally speaking, there is heavy discrimination against women and people of color at my school. I recently looked up the 990 IRS form for my school. Of the top earners whose salaries are required to be disclosed, zero out of 13 top earners at my school are women and/or people of color. All white men at the top. By contrast, two other private local schools have 3/8 and 4/9 women listed as top earners. (Obviously, I can’t tell if they have any people of color on their lists. I can tell from my list because I know everyone on the list.) I also know for a fact that strong women are paid less than men with weaker qualifications at my school — the provost admitted to me once that a male colleague who, at the time had not published anything and has a lighter teacher load and does basically no service, made $25 dollars more than me as a second-year professor. While $25 dollars is essentially nothing, he shouldn’t have been anywhere close to my salary, since I had done so much more.

    Anyway, this is just to say that I see discrimination everywhere at my school. Student evaluations, salaries, teaching loads, service work all favor men. It’s maddening.


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