Innovative Higher Education

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 291-303

First online:

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

  • Lillian MacNellAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology and Anthropology Email author 
  • , Adam DriscollAffiliated withUniversity of Wisconsin-La Crosse
  • , Andrea N. HuntAffiliated withUniversity of North Alabama

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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 inequality gender bias student ratings of teaching student evaluations of instruction