Gender in the college classroom: An assessment of the “chilly climate” for women


Previous research suggests that female students participate less often and less assertively than male students in college classrooms, and that teachers' discriminatory behaviors are partly responsible. Two in-class surveys of college students (N = 1375)—one at a university and one at a small college—assessed perceptions of student-teacher interaction. Factor analysis revealed a number of analytically distinct dimensions of classroom climate: what the class is like in general, what the class is like for the individual student, and what specific positive and negative teacher behaviors affect interaction. Class size affected each of these dimensions. Gender of student was significant only in the college survey, with males participating more, but this gender difference was not due to teachers' discrimination. Female teachers were more likely to create a participatory climate for all students. Creating a better classroom climate for female students creates a better learning environment for all students.

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Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Mary Crawford or Margo MacLeod.

Additional information

We wish to thank Lawrence G. Rosenberg, Jean Dowdall, and Penelope J. Davis for their help and support during this research project. Mary Crawford was responsible for designing and carrying out the university survey, and Margo MacLeod for designing and carrying out the college survey.

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Crawford, M., MacLeod, M. Gender in the college classroom: An assessment of the “chilly climate” for women. Sex Roles 23, 101–122 (1990).

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  • Learning Environment
  • Female Student
  • Male Student
  • Individual Student
  • Distinct Dimension