TO THE EDITOR:
Recent research suggests that students rate female professors more harshly than male professors. When a female professor of an online course pretends she is male, her evaluations are significantly higher than when students know she is a female, and evaluations of female professors are more likely to focus on aspects of personality or appearance rather than intellect or skill in the classroom.
Gender bias in course evaluations can be reduced by focusing comments on feedback that is useful for improving instruction. Ideally, student comments will help us improve our instructional techniques and thus improve the learning experience of future Carolina students. Comments that are vague, belittling, personal or based on gender expectations do not help us make our courses better.
Some course evaluation feedback is flattering but too generic to be useful: “The course was great!”
Some feedback is inappropriate for an evaluation because it’s about personal traits (and may feed into gender stereotypes): “She was ALWAYS stylish.”