'Gender, ethnicity and teaching evaluations : Evidence from mixed teaching teams', by N. Wagner, M. Rieger, K. Voorvelt

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ISS Working Paper No. 617


This paper studies the effect of teacher gender and ethnicity on student evaluations of teaching quality at university. We analyze a unique data-set featuring mixed teaching teams and a diverse, multicultural, multi-ethnic group of students and teachers. Co-teaching allows us to study the impact of teacher gender and ethnicity on students’ evaluations of teaching exploiting within course variation in an empirical model with course-year fixed effects. We document a negative effect of being a female teacher on student evaluations of teaching, which amounts to roughly one fourth of the sample standard deviation of teaching scores. Overall women are 11 percentage points less likely to attain the teaching evaluation cut-off for promotion to associate professor. The effect is robust to a host of co-variates such as course leadership, teacher experience and research quality. There is no evidence of a corresponding ethnicity effect. Our results point to an important gender bias and indicate that the use of teaching evaluations in hiring and promotion decisions may put female lectures at a disadvantage.

About the authors

Natascha Wagner is assistant professor of Development Economics at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). Her research interests lie in international economics, development and health. She has participated in various impact evaluation projects in Africa and Asia ranging from the assessment of public health programs to rural infrastructure programs. In her research, she applies quantitative microeconomic methods to interdisciplinary questions such as for example the impact of polygamous household organization on child health, the economic consequences of female genital cutting (FGC) and issues of good governance and local decentralization. She has published articles in, among others, Health Economics, Journal of Development Studies and World Development.

Matthias Rieger is a micro-development economist with interests in experimental and health economics. He is Assistant Professor in Development Economics at the International  Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Previously he was a post-doc in the Max Weber Program at the European University Institute (EUI), Florence. He did his PhD in International Economics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva. He is also an academic associate of the World Bank's Development Impact Evaluation Initiative (DIME).

Katherine Voorvelt is a policy officer (Quality Assurance) supporting the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). Responsible for planning and conducting teaching/learning evaluations at ISS. Of major interest is the quality of evaluations and that the resulting reports and analyses are valuable in ensuring that ISS offers and maintains high-level quality teaching/learning. Years of experience and institutional knowledge assist in this quest. She works with student representatives to ensure that the student body hold a professional approach to their role in evaluating the courses and programmes. Currently, Chair to the ISS Evaluations Taskforce looking to advising changes to the current evaluation approach by incorporating new and improved trends for the upcoming academic years.

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