Sex Roles

, Volume 79, Issue 3–4, pp 136–150 | Cite as

Dancing Backwards in High Heels: Female Professors Experience More Work Demands and Special Favor Requests, Particularly from Academically Entitled Students

  • Amani El-AlayliEmail author
  • Ashley A. Hansen-Brown
  • Michelle Ceynar
Original Article


Although the number of U.S. female professors has risen steadily in recent years, female professors are still subject to different student expectations and treatment. Students continue to perceive and expect female professors to be more nurturing than male professors are. We examined whether students may consequently request more special favors from female professors. In a survey of professors (n = 88) across the United States, Study 1 found that female (versus male) professors reported getting more requests for standard work demands, special favors, and friendship behaviors, with the latter two mediating the professor gender effect on professors’ self-reported emotional labor. Study 2 utilized an experimental design using a fictitious female or male professor, with college student participants (n = 121) responding to a scenario in which a special favor request might be made of the professor. The results indicated that academically entitled students (i.e., those who feel deserving of success in college regardless of effort/performance) had stronger expectations that a female (versus male) professor would grant their special favor requests. Those expectations consequently increased students’ likelihood of making the requests and of exhibiting negative emotional and behavioral reactions to having those requests denied. This work highlights the extra burdens felt by female professors. We discuss possible moderators of these effects as well as the importance of developing strategies for preventing them.


Academic entitlement Sex discrimination Gender equity College teachers Stereotypes Teacher student interaction Emotional labor Workload 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

The research presented within this manuscript was conducted in accordance with the ethical guidelines set by the American Psychological Association and the Institutional Review Boards of the relevant authors’ institutions. This manuscript is not currently under review at any other journal, nor has any portion of it been published previously.

Supplementary material

11199_2017_872_MOESM1_ESM.docx (29 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 29 kb)


  1. Bachen, C. M., McLoughlin, M. M., & Garcia, S. S. (1999). Assessing the role of gender in college students’ evaluations of faculty. Communication Education, 48, 193–210. Scholar
  2. Barreto, M., Ryan, M., & Schmitt, M. (Eds.). (2009). The glass ceiling in the 21 st century: Understanding barriers to gender equality. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  3. Basow, S. A. (1995). Student evaluations of college professors: When gender matters. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, 656–665. Scholar
  4. Basow, S. A. (1998). Student evaluations: The role of gender bias and teaching styles. In L. H. Collins, J. C. Chrisler, & K. Quina (Eds.), Career strategies for women in academe: Arming Athena (pp. 135–156). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Basow, S. A. (2000). Best and worst professors: Gender patterns in students’ choices. Sex Roles, 42, 407–417. Scholar
  6. Basow, S. A., & Silberg, N. (1987). Student evaluations of college professors: Are female and male professors rated differently? Journal of Educational Psychology, 79, 308–314. Scholar
  7. Bennett, S. K. (1982). Student perceptions of and expectations for male and female instructors: Evidence relating to the question of gender bias in teaching evaluation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74, 170–179. Scholar
  8. Bernard, J. (1964). Academic women. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Biernat, M., & Kobrynowicz, D. (1997). Gender- and race-based standards of competence: Lower minimum standards but higher ability standards for devalued groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 544–557. Scholar
  10. Biernat, M., Ma, J. E., & Nario-Redmond, M. R. (2008). Standards to suspect and diagnose stereotypical traits. Social Cognition, 26, 288–313. Scholar
  11. Burns-Glover, A. L., & Veith, D. J. (1995). Revisiting gender and teaching evaluations: Sex still makes a difference. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 10, 69–80. Retrieved from Scholar
  12. Caplan, P. (1993). Lifting a ton of feathers: A woman’s guide to surviving in the academic world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  13. Carli, L. L. (1999). Gender, interpersonal power, and social influence. Journal of Social Issues, 55, 81–90. Scholar
  14. Chowning, K., & Campbell, N. J. (2009). Development and validation of a measure of academic entitlement: Individual differences in students’ externalized responsibility and entitled expectations. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 982–997. Scholar
  15. Ciani, K. D., Summers, J. J., & Easter, M. A. (2008). Gender differences in academic entitlement among college students. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 169, 332–344. Scholar
  16. Connell, R. W. (1995). Masculinities. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  17. Cuddy, A. J. C., Fiske, S. T., & Glick, P. (2004). When professionals become mothers, warmth doesn’t cut the ice. Journal of Social Issues, 60(4), 701–718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cuddy, A. J. C., Fiske, S. T., Kwan, V. S. Y., Glick, P., Demoulin, S., Leyens, J., ... Ziegler, R. (2009). Stereotype content model across cultures: Toward universal similarities and some differences. British Journal of Social Psychology, 48, 1–33. Scholar
  19. de Oliveira Laux, S. H., Ksenofontov, I., & Becker, J. C. (2015). Explicit but not implicit sexist beliefs predict benevolent and hostile sexist behavior. European Journal of Social Psychology, 45, 702–715. Scholar
  20. Eagly, A. H., & Karau, S. J. (2002). Role congruity theory of prejudice toward female leaders. Psychological Review, 109, 573–598. Scholar
  21. Eagly, A. H., & Sczesny, S. (2009). Stereotypes about women, men, and leaders: Have times changed? In M. Barreto, M. K. Ryan, & M. T. Schmitt (Eds.), The glass ceiling in the 21 st century: Understanding barriers to gender equality (pp. 21–47). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Eckes, T. (2002). Paternalistic and envious gender stereotypes: Testing predictions from the stereotype content model. Sex Roles, 47, 99–114. Scholar
  23. Elias, S. M., & Loomis, R. J. (2004). The effect of instructor gender and race/ethnicity on gaining compliance in the classroom. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 34, 937–958. Scholar
  24. England, P., Herbert, M. S., Kilbourne, B. S., Reid, L. L., & Megdal, I. M. (1994). The gendered valuation of occupations and skills: Earnings in the 1980 census occupations. Social Forces, 73(1), 65–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Feldman, K. A. (1993). College students’ views of male and female college teachers: Part II – Evidence from students’ evaluations of their classroom teachers. Research in Higher Education, 34, 151–191. Scholar
  26. Fiske, S. T., Cuddy, A. J. C., Glick, P., & Xu, J. (2002). A model of (often mixed) stereotype content: Competence and warmth respectively follow from perceived status and competition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 878–902. Scholar
  27. Fiske, S. T., Cuddy, A. J. C., & Glick, P. (2007). Universal dimensions of social cognition: Warmth and competence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11, 77–83. Scholar
  28. Foschi, M. (1996). Double standards in the evaluation of men and women. Social Psychology Quarterly, 59, 237–254. Scholar
  29. Foschi, M. (2000). Double standards for competence: Theory and research. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 21–42. Scholar
  30. French Jr., J., & Raven, B. (1959). The bases of social power. In D. Cartwright (Ed.), Studies in social power (pp. 150–167). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  31. Giacomin, M., & Jordan, C. H. (2014). Down-regulating narcissistic tendencies: Communal focus reduces state narcissism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(4), 488–500.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Guarino, C. M., & Borden, V. M. H. (2017). Faculty service loads and gender: Are women taking care of the academic family? Research in Higher Education, 58, 672–694. Scholar
  33. Hayes, A. F. (2012). PROCESS: A versatile computational tool for observed variable mediation, moderation, and conditional process modeling [white paper]. Retrieved from
  34. Heilman, M. E. (2001). Description and prescription: How gender stereotypes prevent women’s ascent up the organizational ladder. Journal of Social Issues, 57, 657–674. Scholar
  35. Jiang, L., Tripp, T. M., & Hong, P. Y. (2017). College instruction is not so stress free after all: A qualitative and quantitative study of academic entitlement, uncivil behaviors, and instructor strain and burnout. Stress and Health: Journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress. Retrieved from
  36. Kierstead, D., D’Agostino, P., & Dill, H. (1988). Sex role stereotyping of college professors: Bias in students’ ratings of instructors. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 342–344. Scholar
  37. Koenig, A. M., Eagly, A. H., Mitchell, A. A., & Ristikari, T. (2011). Are leader stereotypes masculine? A meta-analysis of three research paradigms. Psychological Bulletin, 137, 616–642. Scholar
  38. Kopp, J. P., Zinn, T. E., Finney, S. J., & Jurich, D. P. (2011). The development and evaluation of the academic entitlement questionnaire. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 44, 105–129. Scholar
  39. Lippmann, S., Bulanda, R. E., & Wagenaar, T. C. (2009). Student entitlement: Issues and strategies for confronting entitlement in the classroom and beyond. College Teaching, 57, 197–204. Scholar
  40. Marsh, H. W., & Dunkin, M. J. (1992). Students’ evaluations of university teaching: A multidimensional perspective. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (Vol. 8, pp. 143–233). New York: Agathon Press.Google Scholar
  41. Moshavi, D., Dana, S., Standifird, S., & Pons, F. (2008). Gender effects in the business school classroom: A social power perspective. Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management, 10, 3–17.Google Scholar
  42. National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. (2015). Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering: 2015. Special report NSF 15–311. Arlington, VA. Retrieved from
  43. New York Times. (2006, Sept. 14). Quotes from Ann Richards. The New York Times. Retrieved from Accessed 29 Sept 2017.
  44. Phelan, J. E. (2008). Competent yet out in the cold: Shifting criteria for hiring reflect backlash toward agentic women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 32, 406–413. Scholar
  45. Phelan, J. E., & Rudman, L. A. (2010). Prejudice toward female leaders: Backlash effects and women's impression management dilemma. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4(10), 807–820. Scholar
  46. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods, 40, 879–891. Scholar
  47. Pugliesi, K. (1999). The consequences of emotional labor: Effects on work stress, job satisfaction, and well-being. Motivation and Emotion, 23, 125–154. Scholar
  48. Ridgeway, C. L. (2001). Gender, status, and leadership. Journal of Social Issues, 57, 637–655. Scholar
  49. Roach, K. D. (1991). Graduate teaching assistants’ use of behavior alteration techniques in the university classroom. Communication Quarterly, 39, 178–188. Scholar
  50. Rudman, L. A., & Glick, P. (2001). Prescriptive gender stereotypes and backlash toward agentic women. Journal of Social Issues, 57(4), 743–762. Scholar
  51. Rudman, L. A., & Kilianski, S. E. (2000). Implicit and explicit attitudes toward female authority. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1315–1328. Scholar
  52. Rudman, L. A., Moss-Racusin, C. A., Phelan, J. E., & Nauts, S. (2012). Status incongruity and backlash effects: Defending the gender hierarchy motivates prejudice against female leaders. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(1), 165–179. Scholar
  53. Sandler, B. R., & Hall, R. M. (1993). Women faculty at work in the classroom, or, why it still hurts to be a woman in labor. Washington, DC: Center for Women Policy Studies.Google Scholar
  54. Schein, V. E., Mueller, R., Lituchy, T., & Liu, J. (1996). Think manager – think male: A global phenomenon? Journal of Organizational Behavior, 17, 33–41.<33::AID-JOB778>3.0.CO;2-F.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sibley, C. G., & Wilson, M. S. (2004). Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexist attitudes toward positive and negative sexual female subtypes. Sex Roles, 51(11–12), 687–696.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sinclair, L., & Kunda, Z. (2000). Motivated stereotyping of women: She’s fine if she praised me but incompetent if she criticized me. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1329–1342. Scholar
  57. Sprague, J., & Massoni, K. (2005). Student evaluations and gendered expectations: What we can’t count can hurt us. Sex Roles, 53, 779–793. Scholar
  58. Swim, J. K., Aikin, K. J., Hall, W. S., & Hunter, B. A. (1995). Sexism and racism: Old-fashioned and modern prejudices. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 199–214. Scholar
  59. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. (2011). About Carnegie Classification. Retrieved from
  60. Wink, P. (1991). Two faces of narcissism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(4), 769–791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Young, S., Rush, L., & Shaw, D. (2009). Evaluating gender bias in ratings of university instructors’ teaching effectiveness. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 3, 1–14. Scholar
  62. Zawisza, M., & Cinnirella, M. (2010). What matters more: Breaking tradition or stereotype content? Envious and paternalistic gender stereotypes and advertising effectiveness. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40, 1767–1797. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentEastern Washington UniversityCheneyUSA
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentBridgewater State UniversityBridgewaterUSA
  3. 3.Psychology DepartmentPacific Lutheran UniversityTacomaUSA

Personalised recommendations