Voting at eighteen years of age has been the law in the U.S. for nearly a half century now. But for those who are off to college, the same age bracket starts voting in other ways, and one of those are student evaluations of professors. There is a great deal of argument about how much stock to put in these. My problem with them has always been that a professor that comes across great during the semester/term may not look too hot a few years in the rear view mirror, and vice versa. That was certainly the case with mine.
In any case, this tidbit from two studies on the subject is startling:
Students’ gender appeared to impact their bias, but in different ways in the French and U.S. samples.
In the French data, male students tended to rate male instructors higher than they rated female instructors, but little difference was observed among female students. In the U.S. data, female students tended to rate perceived male instructors higher than they rated perceived female instructors, with little difference in ratings by male students. In both cases, however, the bias still positively impacted male instructors and disadvantaged female ones.
Too much extrapolation is always a danger, but if American female college students can’t bring themselves to bump up their faculty counterparts, how are they going to bring themselves to vote en bloc for an American woman for President? Laura Schlesinger made an offhand comment one time that it wasn’t the men who wouldn’t vote for a woman for president, it was the women. She may be on to something.
Back on campus, this leads to two interesting inferences from the data.
The first is that women who teach in largely male dominated majors (such as engineering) will come out better with their students than those where women predominate (such as education and the liberal arts.) That doesn’t always translate into promotion for women by the administration, as the end of “Turkish rule” here at UTC’s College of Engineering and Computer Science will attest.
The second is that male professors have a better shot at student popularity in fields where women predominate. This is a collegiate version of the “rooster phenomenon” which Pentecostals will recall with disdain. Just because you send people to institutions of higher learning doesn’t mean that they will fundamentally change.
And neither will they change so much when they enter the voting booth, which is one more obstacle Hillary Clinton will have to overcome shortly.