Brilliant or Bossy? Depends on your gender.

14 million RateMyProfessor reviews show gender bias


Katie Whelan

Professor Ben Schmidt’s interactive website depicting the obvious gender discrimination against female professors has sparked interest online. Schmidt gathered 14 million reviews and sorted them by the professor’s gender and field. You can use the site to type any word and sort it by positive or negative sentiment to get a more accurate split. The results almost always show more negativity toward female professors and praise for male professors.

This example displays the number of words per million based on how frequently reviewers referred to them as “genius.”

When the evaluations are sorted by positive, there are less comments that jokingly label a professor a genius while giving them a negative review.




Are men truly more brilliant by the millions?


“Stereotypes that portray brilliance as a male trait are likely to hold women back across a wide range of prestigious careers,” Says Assistant Professor Daniel Storage.









Again, but with the word “bossy”, which is not an alternative for assertiveness or other successful leadership abilities.
Being “bossy” is perceived as a lack of interpersonal skills, which include being directive and dominating, ignoring others’ points of view, being impolite and demanding, micromanaging, and acting aggressively. And so, this trait is considered feminine.


Why is this?

Research has showed time and time again that when women are social and cooperative, they are not regarded as competent in their work—but when they demonstrate their competence, they are perceived as cold and unpleasant, resulting in a “double bind.”


An analysis by David G. Smith, PhD looked to peer evaluations of about four thousand students at the United States Naval Academy. Despite the men and women’s performance being objectively similar in grades and fitness scores, women received more negative traits than men, and these individual characteristics were generally feminine. Though, men and women received roughly the same amount of positive qualities proves that women are still competent at their work but are subconsciously doubted, likely due to their gender.