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Evaluation Bias

A new study has found bias against female lecturers among student course evaluations, the Economist reports.

A trio of researchers examined nearly 20,000 faculty evaluations from Maastricht University students in a paper that is to appear in the Journal of the European Economic Association. Half the students had been assigned a female instructor and half a male one. The trio also examined students' grades, which were largely based on centralized exams.

As Friederike Mengel from University of Essex and Lund University and his colleagues write in their paper, they found that female instructors received systematically lower evaluation scores. The Economist notes that though female instructors were typically rated 37 slots below their male peers, students in their course sections did just as well and studied just as much as students in male-taught sections.

The Economist adds that male students were more biased than female students and that junior instructors were particularly affected by the bias, suggesting it might have tenure and other career ramifications.

It also notes that the study was conducted at a top European business school and if "the biases [the students] hold against the competence of their female teachers stick with them at the office, equality of the sexes in the workplace has a steep hill to climb."