Paul L. Caron

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Study Finds Gender Bias In TA Evaluations Too

Inside Higher Ed, Study Finds Gender Bias in TA Evals Too:

Students’ biases about gender and other factors have been shown to skew how they evaluate their professors’ teaching. Growing wise to this, more and more universities are limiting the role that student evaluations of teaching, or SETs, play in high-stakes personnel decisions such as tenure and promotion.

But what about teaching assistants, who aren’t quite faculty, but whose instruction is still often rated by the students with whom they interact? Do the same biases show up in SETs of graduate student instructors as in SETs of professors?

Yes, according to a forthcoming study in the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Journal. Simple in design and sobering in its results, the study found that students in an online course who had the same TA gave that TA five times as many negative evaluations when they believed that she was a woman, as compared to when they thought she was a man.


Female students tended to give the putative female TA the worst scores of all, paralleling the U.S.-based findings of a major 2016 study on gender bias in teacher ratings.

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I can't imagine a college, even with online instruction, where the students would not *hear* and *see* the TA, and be able to tell the TA's gender (putting aside nonbinary, transgender, etc.). How were these students taught without actually seeing/hearing the TA in real time (or even recorded)?

Posted by: Andy Patterson | Nov 7, 2020 11:20:51 AM

Do we know if it was female students rating female TAs worse?

Because it absolutely matters if you're trying to make the argument for "systematic sexism", whatever that's supposed to mean.

Posted by: MM Classic | Nov 7, 2020 12:33:14 PM

Gender, race, gender, race, gender, race, . . .

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Nov 10, 2020 2:22:41 AM