Gender relations in higher education: exploring lecturers' perceptions of student evaluations of teaching
Quantitative evidence suggests that higher education students may exhibit gender bias against women when evaluating the teaching of male and female faculty. Qualitative research in this area has been concerned with the broader context of institutional sexism in academia, which has been represented as a pervasive and depressing influence on women lecturers. Relatively little research has investigated university teachers' specific views about student perceptions and behaviour. This study explored this issue qualitatively in a group of British academics. While most of the female academics represented students as having prejudiced views about them, the prevailing understanding in the literature of women university staff as demoralized, alienated and experiencing tension between their occupational and feminine selves was not confirmed. Rather, women appeared entirely confident in their identities as conscientious teachers, a circumstance which related empirically (and possibly theoretically) to an almost unanimous derogation of their male colleagues. No body of literature about male lecturers' views of sexism exists: this study suggested that they contrast markedly with those of their female colleagues. Problematic aspects of women's apparent assiduity about teaching are discussed, as is the other principal area of concern raised by the study, namely the extensive areas of disagreement in outlook between the female and male respondents.