Beware of Studies

So remember that “study” about female TAs getting lower ratings from students than male TAs?

It was massively hyped up by Inside Higher Ed. I’m not linking because ef them and their stupid lies.

Turns out that what the “study,” with its minuscule sample size, actually found is that there’s no statistically significant difference in how the TAs are scored based on their perceived gender (students never met the TA).

I strongly believe that all these stories about women being hugely discriminated against in academia are spread intentionally to discourage and psych out the competition. In the Humanities specifically, the idea of female scholars facing huge discrimination is extremely ludicrous. In STEM there are issues with discrimination, definitely, but there are also female academics who thrive and love their lives.

Women! Before you re-post these stories, please read the actual study, not an article about the study. Consider if you might be doing a disservice to budding female academics who will read these stories and get needlessly discouraged.

3 thoughts on “Beware of Studies”

  1. You can say this. I can’t. I have to say that this study obviously found severe discrimination.

    As far as I can tell, to whatever extent it did find discrimination, it found that when students thought the TA was a woman they gave a slightly lower rating, but that was because of negative reviews from a handful of female students. Male students rated the same regardless. So clearly this means there’s massive sexism and men need to reform.

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  2. There’s definitely a chilling effect from all these studies showing there’s a chilling effect. I think it works the same way as telling underrepresented minorities that it’s awful how some people denigrate and underestimate them. You are not being supportive; you’ve just told the person that someone somewhere considers them to be shit. How is that supportive?

    With age, I’ve moved away from reading all the many articles documenting how far women still have to go and how the many cogs in the professional machinery are actually increasing friction under women’s wheels. While they rang true, they also made me feel shitty and hopeless. I think there’s value in just getting rid of all the negative noise, hunkering down, doing your thing, whatever anyone says be damned.

    After all, it doesn’t help me that, statistically, women have a shitty go of things. Maybe it helps me externalize failures, so I don’t think it’s all me, and recognize people have biases, but I will be dealing with specific people and specific circumstances, but I will accomplish much more by relying on my strengths, focusing energy on my own passion projects, and figuring out how to dealing with specific obstacles (including people) than I ever will by soaking up negative even if true messaging that is based in statistics.

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  3. You are so right, Clarissa. At my university, many female profs (we don’t have TA’s; we’re too small) get really high teaching evaluation scores, especially those in the Humanities.

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