Popular RateMyProfessors.com changed its teacher hotness rating after a backlash on Twitter.
Protests started when BethAnn McLaughlin, an assistant professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University, tweeted at the website: “Life is hard enough for female professors. Your ‘chili pepper’ rating of our ‘hotness’ is obnoxious and utterly irrelevant to our teaching. Please remove it because #TimesUP and you need to do better.”
Life is hard enough for female professors. Your ‘chili pepper’ rating of our ‘hotness’ is obnoxious and utterly irrelevant to our teaching.
Please remove it because #TimesUP and you need to do better.
Female College Prof
— Not Mrs McLNeuro (@McLNeuro) June 26, 2018
Around 14,000 professors and students on Twitter joined in McLaughlin’s campaign after the June 26 tweet. These Twitter users wanted people to protest the website until Rate My Professors removed its hotness rating. McLaughlin’s tweet received 3,000 retweets and 15,000 likes.
“I was shocked. Absolutely shocked. I figured a couple of my friends would retweet it,” McLaughlin said
RateMyProfessors.com responded to the Twitter outcry on June 28 in a tweet saying, “The chili pepper rating is meant to reflect a dynamic/exciting teaching style. But, your point is well taken and we’ve removed all chili pepper references from the Rate My Professors site.”
.@McLNeuro The chili pepper rating is meant to reflect a dynamic/exciting teaching style. But, your point is well taken and we’ve removed all chili pepper references from the Rate My Professors site.
— RateMyProfessors (@ratemyprofessor) June 28, 2018
Upon receiving the news, McLaughlin wrote a piece on “Edge for Scholars” that characterized the action taken as “pulling a thorn from the side of women in education.” McLaughlin also goes on to describe how being a professor is more difficult for women than men.
“Being a professor is an incredibly stressful job, but being a female professor is measurably more difficult. Females make up the majority of educators for our college students yet earn far less than our male colleagues, do more university service and still experience higher levels of sexual harassment than any other profession outside of the military.”
Later in the piece, she explains how the Rate My Professors gives college students an outlet to “exert very public power over professors’ careers and reputations.”
“These are not appropriate ways for us to be evaluating anybody who is a professional,” McLaughlin said. “You certainly couldn’t go in as an intern in a law firm and expect to leave that job rating your mentor’s hotness.”
A 2017 study done in the “Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education” looked at nearly 14 million college students’ Rate My Professors reviews. In the results, the ratings for male and female professors depicted similar scores. When the study controlled for teaching discipline and attractiveness ratings, however, the results for male and female professor varied significantly.
Male professors had much higher scores than female professors in subjects such as political science and history. Subjects like chemistry showed no statistical difference in scores between the two sexes, according to the study.
The research concluded it was “difficult to make a broad conclusion that applies to gender-specific differences across all disciplines.” But “these findings implied that the fair interpretation of student evaluations of teaching requires an acknowledgment of differences due to gender biases.”
Rate My Professors did not respond to a request for comment by the Daily Caller.