Implicit/Unconscious Bias

Implicit/Unconscious Bias:

Research suggests students are biased against female lecturers from The Economist, September 21, 2017.

  • This article discusses a new study demonstrating gender bias in student evaluations of teaching.

To Advance Science, It's Time to Tackle Unconscious Bias, by Geraldine Richmond, accessed 6.9.2016 on

Student evaluations of teaching are not only unreliable, they are significantly biased against female instructors, by Anne Boring, Kellie Ottoboni and Philip B. Stark, accessed 6.13.2016 on the LSE Impact blog

Here are four articles which talk about gender bias in letters of recommendation:

If There’s Only One Woman in Your Candidate Pool, There’s Statistically No Chance She’ll Be Hired, by  Stefanie K. Johnson, David R. Hekman, and Elsa T. Chan, Harvard Business Review, April 26, 2016

  • Although the authors note that this research has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, they have identified a strategy for increasing the hiring rates of women and minorities: "we believe this “get two in the pool effect” represents an important first step for overcoming unconscious biases and ushering in the racial and gender balance that we want in organizations.

Evaluating students’ evaluations of professors, by Michela Bragaa, Marco Paccagnellab, Michele Pellizzaric in Economics of Education Review,  August 2014

  • This study finds that students rate effective teachers more negatively: " Moreover, our measure of teaching quality is negatively correlated with the students’ evaluations of the professors: teachers who are associated with better subsequent performance receive worst [sic] evaluations from their students." Also, weather matters: "Our results show that students evaluate professors more negatively on rainy and cold days.

Students Don’t Always Recognize Good Teaching, Study Finds, by Dan Berrett in the Chronicle of Higher Education, May 9, 2017

  • "High-quality instruction didn’t necessarily predict positive feedback on student evaluations, the researchers found. Instead, high marks on evaluations were most positively correlated with students’ grades in a course, meaning that instructors tended to be rewarded with high ratings if they gave good grades."

The Impact of Gender on the Evaluation of Teaching: What We Know and What We Can Do, by Heather Laube, et al., in NWSA Journal (2007) discusses gender bias in student evaluations and offers some suggestions for mitigating this bias.

Raising Awareness of Unconscious Assumptions and Their Influence on Evaluation of Candidates is based on Searching for Excellence & Diversity: A Guide for Search Committee Chairs, a guide developed by the Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI) at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Bias, the Brain, and Student Evaluations of Teaching, by Deborah J. Merritt. St. John's Law Review (2008).

Are Student Teaching Evaluations Holding Back Women and Minorities? by Sylvia R. Lazos in Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia (2012).

Here is an Annotated Bibliography on Gender Bias in the Academe.

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