At the university, parity also helps men

We know that in more masculine environments, women face prejudice. A new study shows that men, in some feminine environments, face just as many obstacles. And that this distinction stops when the equivalence stabilizes.

Teacher evaluations

Dozens of studies show this: at a university, when there are few women among the faculty of a department, they are not respected by students – including female students. “But when we move to more feminine environments, nursing schools for example, male teachers are judged less harshly,” explains Oriana Aragon, MD, of the University of Cincinnati and author of a new study on the subject, published in December in the journal PNAS. “It is as if the students found them worthy of attention in a feminine world.”

To get to the bottom of it, use M.I Aragon looked to a subset of teachers, those who teach advanced courses. says mr.I Aragon. When we look at students’ perceptions of these teachers who are the best in their field, we are surprised: the negative influence of a man who teaches in a female environment becomes equal to that of a woman who teaches in a male environment.

And in equal circles? “Here’s the good news: When there are equal numbers of men in college as there are women, there is no gender bias.”

Match roles

M study.I Aragon is based on the theory of “role matching”, which was developed twenty years ago by a psychologist from Northwestern University in Chicago, Alice Eagle. says the lady.I Egli, who mentioned this theory in 2002 in psychological review.

Image from Northwestern University website

Alice Eagle, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Chicago

For Vincent Lariviere, an information science researcher at the University of Montreal, the study of M.I Aragon is an excellent exposition of the congruence theory of the sexes. “Isolating the more advanced courses is really the idea that made this study special,” says Larivière.

Role-matching theory has been widely applied in the study of leaders, according to Tanja Henschel, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam who has published several studies on ways to draw women into more masculinity. “Women leaders, for example in politics, are in an impossible situation,” says Ms.I Hentshel. If it is too “feminine”, it is considered unsuitable for the traditionally masculine job. But if it is too “masculine”, for example by being dominant, it violates its sexual role and is less appreciated. »

Student biases

Why study sexism in student assessments? “Because it’s an anonymous assessment where biases come to light easily,” says Ms.I Aragon.

Moreover, more and more studies show that it is extremely dangerous to consider students’ assessments of the career path of professors. “Men in particular seem to have let their instincts run wild,” says Yanan Fan, a statistician at the University of New South Wales in Australia who published a devastating analysis of student assessment in PLoS Australia.

Their favorite teachers are seniors who were born in Australia, and they are funny. But humor is hard when English is your second language. Another study by MI Fan, which was published last year in the journal high educationto the point of suggesting that these student assessments be ignored in the career paths of university professors.

It is not a new problem. “I’ve been writing about the sexism inherent in student assessments since the 1990s,” says Susan Basso, an emeritus psychologist at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. “I am glad to see that equivalence makes things better, but I still think taking these student assessments into account is risky. The prejudices will not stop and we will not achieve equivalence tomorrow morning.”

The danger of compliments

The permissiveness towards men in women’s circles, which has been noted in some previous studies, can also be a double-edged sword. Last year, psychologist Loes Meeussen of the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium showed that people who praise their male colleagues when they take time off work to look after their children, think less of their own professional abilities. If the mother is the one paying this compliment to her mate, she also suffers from maternal guilt, according to the study published in British Journal of Social Psychology.

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  • 75%
    Percentage of male university professors who held a permanent position in Canada in 2019

    Source: Statistics Canada

    Percentage of female university professors who held a permanent position in Canada in 2019

    Source: Statistics Canada

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