Sex Roles, Vol. 52, Nos. 3/4, February 2005 (
Timely Completion of Class Requirements:
Effects of Student and Faculty Gender
Therese A. Louie
and Gail Tom
Male and female students have displayed different reactions to the gender of their faculty.
This research was designed to explore whether biases exist early in the school term. Students’
unfavorable attitudes toward instructors were measured by the extent to which they delayed
completing a course requirement: participation in a subject pool. Students scheduled a date
upon which to participate in a research study. Discrepancies between their scheduled and
their actual participation dates reveal that male students delayed their requirement (a) more
when their instructors were female than when they were male, and (b) more than female
students when the instructors were female. Supporting data suggest that the delayed comple-
tion time reﬂects lower evaluations of female faculty. Discussion focuses on implications in
KEY WORDS: faculty gender; student gender; class assignments; social role theory.
Many researchers have examined how college
students react to male and female instructors. Re-
sults suggest that both instructor and student gender
inﬂuence reactions to faculty. Basow (2000) asked
students to “Think of the best professor you’ve had
in college.” Male students were less likely to se-
lect a female professor than were female students.
Male students also chose fewer female professors
than expected (based upon the percentage of male
and female professors with whom the students had
taken classes). Basow and Silberg (1987) asked stu-
dents to rate instructors on a number of factors, such
as “organization/clarity” and “scholarship.” Male
students gave female professors less favorable rat-
ings than they gave male professors on all evalua-
tion measures. Female students rated male and fe-
male professors more similarly, although they did
rate female faculty lower on some factors, such as
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“instructor–individual student interaction” and “dy-
namism/enthusiasm.” Overall, these results parallel
those found numerous times in industry, wherein
male subordinates reacted less favorably to female
than to male supervisors (see Bass and Stogdill, 1990,
for a review).
This research extends previous research that has
demonstrated both student and faculty gender ef-
fects on instructor evaluations. First, we investigated
whether biases exist early in the school term. In past
studies (e.g., Goldberg & Callahan, 1991; Sidanius &
Crane, 1989; Van Giffen, 1990) student participants
were asked to evaluate instructors at the end of the
semester or quarter, when faculty ratings are typi-
cally obtained. In contrast, we sought to gain insight
into when gender differences arise.
In addition, a potential problem with measuring
faculty evaluations at the end of the semester is that
students had presumably received major perfor-
mance feedback for examinations and assignments.
Note, however, in the Basow and Silberg (1987) study evaluations
were completed not at the end but in the ﬁfth or sixth week of a
semester. It could not be ascertained from the article whether or
not the 32 professors for whom students made evaluations had
given important sources of grading feedback.
2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.