Study explores gendered language on RateMyProfessors

February 10, 2015

A researcher at Northeastern University in Boston has released a new tool that explores the different language used to describe male and female professors on the RateMyProfessors.com website. Benjamin M Schmidt created a database of words used in 14 million Rate My Professor reviews. He found that many positive words, including "smart," and "intellect," and "genius" were far more common in reviews of male faculty members. Meanwhile, words such as "bossy" and "nurturing" were more common in reviews of female professors. Fashion-related words, including "frumpy" and "stylish," were also more common in profiles of female professors. Schmidt said, "most academics know that female teachers are treated different from male ones in all sorts of ways. I was curious how these perceptions moved over into teaching evaluations." He speculated that the patterns he identified would be found in more formal evaluations as well, including peer review and tenure and promotion documents. Inside Higher Ed |Gendered Language Tool