A female professor at Cornell University is calling for a plan which would build in extra advantages for female professors on course evaluations which assess classroom effectiveness.
“I’ve read some of the research on gender bias in course evaluations, heard shocking stories from female colleagues, and, unfortunately, seen the issue in my own evaluations,” Pritchard, a professor in Cornell’s science and technology studies department, wrote this week at The Conversation, a specialty website for academics.
Each semester, “all over the country,” Pritchard complains, student feedback is “pervasively slanted by gender bias.”
The Cornell professor cites recent research showing that female professors are more likely to face evaluations filled with personal attacks and “comments that have nothing to do with their teaching abilities or competencies.”
Female professors also tend to be criticized more often for “their appearance and fashion choices,” Pritchard charges.
Moreover, students have been known to call female professors “bossy” — as well as “approachable” and “helpful.” Male professors are more likely to be called “funny” and “brilliant.”
Such adjectives “not only reflect but also reinforce gender stereotypes for both men and women” and “speak to the ways that female instructors are perceived differently in the classroom,” Pritchard opines.
It’s just not fair, she laments.
“Female faculty should receive an automatic correction — that is to say, a bonus — on their quantitative teaching evaluation scores,” Pritchard explains. This bonus for being a woman “should be determined by average gender bias in teaching evaluations at their institution or national averages.”
At Rate My Professors, Pritchard herself gets fairly glowing reviews, though the current sample size very small.
Happy students have said she teaches “amazing, interesting” classes and “definitely knew how to keep things moving without controlling the conversations too much.”
One critic does pan Pritchard, saying she “grades too hard for such a BS class.”