Innovative Higher Education

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 291–303

What’s in a Name: Exposing Gender Bias in Student Ratings of Teaching


DOI: 10.1007/s10755-014-9313-4

Cite this article as:
MacNell, L., Driscoll, A. & Hunt, A.N. Innov High Educ (2015) 40: 291. doi:10.1007/s10755-014-9313-4


Student ratings of teaching play a significant role in career outcomes for higher education instructors. Although instructor gender has been shown to play an important role in influencing student ratings, the extent and nature of that role remains contested. While difficult to separate gender from teaching practices in person, it is possible to disguise an instructor’s gender identity online. In our experiment, assistant instructors in an online class each operated under two different gender identities. Students rated the male identity significantly higher than the female identity, regardless of the instructor’s actual gender, demonstrating gender bias. Given the vital role that student ratings play in academic career trajectories, this finding warrants considerable attention.


gender inequalitygender biasstudent ratings of teachingstudent evaluations of instruction

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lillian MacNell
    • 1
  • Adam Driscoll
    • 2
  • Andrea N. Hunt
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyRaleighUSA
  2. 2.University of Wisconsin-La CrosseLa CrosseUSA
  3. 3.University of North AlabamaFlorenceUSA