Saturday, June 22, 2024

Professor ratings reveal bias

A USA Today article shows that, regardless of the progress women have made in the last 50 years, gender bias still exists today.

“A history professor at Northeastern University has created a new interactive graph that reveals various truths about how college students view female professors more negatively compared to their male counterparts,” Avery Powell, from George Mason University, reported. In the article, certain buzzwords, such as, “fun,” “incompetent” and “mean” are shown on separate graphs, indicating a trend that shows a gender bias toward female professors.
They pulled this data from Rate My Professors, a website where students can rate their professors on a variety of categories such as overall quality, helpfulness, clarity, easiness, the interest level they had prior to attending class and even “hotness,” where professors are judged in terms of physical attractiveness.

“Hot professors get a red chili pepper,” a Rate My Professors ratings category sheet reported. Each of the other categories has the same rubric: A score of one is bad, while a score of five is good.

In terms of helpfulness, a score of five is “very helpful,” while a score of one indicates a professor is “useless,” according to the ratings category sheet.

Lynda Ames, professor of sociology at Plattsburgh State, said there are “lots of data” that tell why this gender bias exists today.

“All of us are born, and we are raised in a particular culture,” Ames said. “We learn to be human beings in particular ways.”

She said these biases are social, not genetic — although there are genetic differences between men and women.

“From the very beginning, even today, we treat little boys and little girls differently,” she said. “We expect different things.”

She said parents, friends, family and the media people consume affect how they regard women differently than men.

“In every genre of movies — action movies, romantic comedies and so forth — men and women are portrayed as different creatures,” Ames said. “We started at the very beginning, and we continue to enforce it and say that men and women are different creatures, when the behavioral differences don’t have to be that large.”

Ames said that although Americans have more ground to cover in gender equality, she notes there have been large gains in the right direction.
“We have a woman running for president,” she said. “That wouldn’t have happened when I was a kid. Our society is changing, but we have not changed.”
Lateef Wearrien, a senior and TV/video production major, said he thinks part of the reason the gender gap exists is because men “probably feel threatened” of educated women.

“It’s unfortunate,” he said.

Wearrien said people are societally taught to categorize the way people should act by gender.

“I don’t think people come out born that way,” he said. “I think we are taught these roles from the media, our parents, the education system (and) history.”

He said change is necessary, but people have to be challenged by women and taught to respect women “for their intellect and not for their bodies.”
“With this gender bias, it’s also looking at women of color too, because that’s going to be significantly different,” he said. “It’s unfortunate because when you look at higher education, it’s supposed to be very open-minded…but no system is perfect, and every system has its flaws.”
Wearrien said opinions regarding gender roles should be more evolved than they are today.

“Just because we make policies saying women are equal, well, let’s really look at it,” he said, adding that women on average make less per a man’s dollar.

A video by CNN Money reported that, on average, it takes women 469 days to earn what men would earn in a year.

“In 2013, female full-time workers made only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 22 percent,” the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reported.

Tess Acierno, a sophomore journalism major, said the issue of gender equality can be solved by parents educating their children about it as soon as possible.

“I feel like your views are already set in stone by the time you’re our age,” Acierno said.

Email Timothy Lyman at

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