Men, maybe your teaching isn’t as awesome as your students say it is


Today I had the pleasure of attending an information session for academics on the topic of digital  footprint management. While digital footprints is something I’m passionate about it isn’t the subject of this post.

Anyway I was looking forward to this and was there early. A male academic walked in and upon meeting the woman running the session he joked that she was going to get bad feedback on the session because she “was a girl”.

She was shocked, but it turned out that he was referring to research reported on the LSE Impact blog which looked at gender bias in Student Evaluations of Teaching [SET]. The authors ask:

“would female instructors get higher SET but for the mere fact that they are women?” We can answer that question using these unique data sets: “yes.”

They conclude:

“The sign of any connection between SET and teaching effectiveness is murky, whereas the associations between SET and grade expectations and between SET and instructor gender are clear and significant. Because SET are evidently biased against women (and likely against other underrepresented and protected groups)—and worse, do not reliably measure teaching effectiveness—the onus should be on universities either to abandon SET for employment decisions or to prove that their reliance on SET does not have disparate impact.”

After joking a bit more, explaining the gist of the article, and gratuitously calling the instructor “girl” a few more times for effect this gent redeemed himself by turning to the men in the room and pointedly telling them that they probably weren’t as awesome as their SETs suggested, and added that the women academics in the room were better teachers than their’s indicated.


If you’re interested in the data the LSE Impact blog post was:

 based on a ScienceOpen preprint and can be found here: Student Evaluations of Teaching (Mostly) Do Not Measure Teaching Effectiveness  10.14293/S2199-1006.1.SOR-EDU.AETBZC.v1

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