Students Give Professors Better Evaluations If They Think They’re Male: Study

Students tend to give better evaluations to their professors if they think they’re male instead of female, according to a study published last week in the journal Innovative Higher Education.

The study, led by Lillian MacNell, a doctoral student at North Carolina State University, used an online summer course on introductory anthropology and sociology to, essentially, catfish students. The class was divided into four discussion groups, with two assistant instructors, one male and one female, teaching two discussions groups each. The assistant instructors collaborated to write and teach in similar ways.

However, the male instructor only told one of his groups that he was male, and told his other group he was female. Likewise, the female instructor only told one group she was female, and told her other group she was male.

At the end of the course, students were asked to fill out an evaluation about their instructor. Overall, the instructors did not receive significantly different evaluations. But the female instructor received better evaluations when students thought she was male. The male instructor, meanwhile, received worse evaluations when students thought he was female.

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