Thursday, February 05, 2009

This is 2009

Thanks to a friend in a frozen part of the country for sending me this link to a public radio program that focused today on Women in Science, including discussion with Nathalie Angier, Evalyn Gates, and Marlene Zuk.

I just listened to the recording of the show, and there's the usual stuff about choices and lifestyles and sexism and childcare and hobbies (it's official -- you can have hobbies and be a science professor!).

There is also an interesting/depressing anecdote from a female caller to the program. This woman experienced wow-you're-good-at-math-and-you're-female-how-weird comments 25 years ago and now her daughter is getting these exact same comments as an undergraduate science major. The daughter/student is getting the how-weird-that-you're-good-at-science comments from fellow students, not from older people (professors).

Some of the discussion that followed addressed the fact that bias against women in science isn't just a phenomenon of the old guys who will retire/die soon and then the problem is solved -- the young guys, including current undergraduates, also have these biases.

The radio host seemed to be blown away by this and also accounts of things that women scientists and engineers experience even today in terms of lack of respect or visibility owing to gender. She said "This is 2009", why are we still dealing with these problems that should have gone away many years ago?

In the immortal words of professors of all genders and ages: That's a great question.

The motivation for the show's topic today was Obama's statement in his inaugural speech about restoring Science to its "rightful" place, leading to the question: Is this going to result in changes in the culture of science and how it includes, recruits, and retains women? I suppose if Obama's emphasis on Science inspires more public awareness of science and scientists, there may well be more (positive) changes than we have seen in recent decades. Dare we HOPE?

46 comments:

Phagenista said...

Not that we aren't already overburdened, but this is another reason why scientists of all stripes should come to elementary, middle and high schools. We can show students the diversity of who scientists are. My aunt is a 4th grade teacher, and I was floored by how savvy and appreciative her 9 year olds were when I have visited. I did a simple microbiology experiment with them (touching their hands onto agar plates, showing them why they should wash their hands) -- it went over well and wasn't a huge time commitment. I assume I will be an annual visitor to my aunt's classes for the foreseeable future. I might be the first "scientist" these students have ever met, and I'm am extroverted female. This kind of extension should inoculate them against any ideas they have that women couldn't/shouldn't be interested in STEM fields.

Jacopo said...

Maybe I'm biased but I have the strong feeling that the situation is a bit worse un US than in Europe. Ok, here we have our share of problems (womens DO struggle to balance their professional and personal life a lot more than males) but, at least in my limited experience, more than the half of people studying (and graduating in) math/physics/chemistry/biology are girls.
I know that this is not the standard but in the research group I work half of people are female (plus or minus one depending on instantaneous fluctuations). And this result just happened; no one ever tried to recruit girls just to balance the numbers. Good people just happened to arrive in an equal share between males and females. And I live in a traditionally misogynous country.
(By the way, I'm male ;-) )

American in Oxbridge said...

I find this depressing as well; the worst sexist behavior I've experienced was at the hands of a thirty-something assistant prof when I was a post-doc; I was far less surprised to find issues with the late 50s profs. I almost wonder sometimes if there hasn't been a backlash and now the younger guys are more biased than their academic fathers and grandfathers!

Jose M Vidal said...

The percentage of women applying and getting into medical school has been nearly 50% for over a decade see here. Getting into medical school is much harder than getting into a PhD program. You have to take the MCATs, for one. The competition is brutal.

So, why are women succeding there? Perhaps because the lowest-paid MD makes $156,010/year (anaesthesiologist median salary is $321,686 see here), while a PhD in science will get you a postdoc at $40K/year.

I'm just saying that perhaps women don't go into science because they are smart!

Pippin, the Gentle Pup said...

Just yesterday, I was illustrating to a class of first-year students how automatically we gender generic nouns and adjectives by having them do an implicit association task where they wrote down the gender of my "neighbor" as I read a series of sentences like, "My neighbor plays the flute" or "My neighbor is blond." There was only unanimous agreement on the gender of my neighbor for one sentence, "My neighbor is a scientist." All of them gendered it male. 2009 indeed.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, young bastards are just as big of a problem as old bastards. The old bastards breed young soon-to-be bastards at an alarming rate.

I'll have hope for women in science when departments are forced to hire people who are different from the pasty white morons currently in power. Hiring for diversity is directly opposite hiring for someone who fits (the pasty white appearance and attitude). Progress will come by force and I hope it comes in the form of mandates.

I love that saying about true progress is not when we identify female Einsteins. Progress is when any-female can be hired, promoted, and tenured at the same pace as any-male.

Andrew Nguyen said...

I just stumbled across this blog. Im a dude. I never thought this occurred anymore. Well, I did, to a slight extent. But there are tons of women in biology. So maybe that is why I am oblivious. But Im still angered!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Re: "...bias against women in science isn't just a phenomenon of the old guys who will retire/die soon and then the problem is solved -- the young guys, including current undergraduates, also have these biases."


I find that these biases are just as common in young women as young men. I am often surprised and saddened to see how much subtle resistance to womens' advancement in science comes from eachother. It's a very complex self-reinforcing cultural problem, lets not blame everything on the men, OK?


Full disclosure: I am a young man.

Darren said...

I think the solution here is definitely to get more women in STEM fields. As a man, I confess that I too am surprised when I get the chance to work with women -- not because it surprises me that a woman can do good STEM work, but because it's still so unusual to see women who put up with all the additional crap on their way into the field.

It's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem, of course (evolutionary biologists: shut up ;P), but I think if we can provide more support for girls and young women with interest in STEM fields, more of them will suffer through the bigotry. And the very fact that there would be a significant presence of women in STEM fields would go a long way toward *ending* that bigotry.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Phagenista. I recently had a TA position as a science demonstrator, taking demos out to local elementary schools. At one school, the teacher pulled me aside and said that when she asked for volunteers to greet me at the door, the students were amazed that the science demostrator was a girl. These were first graders! I was shocked to realize that even at 6 and 7 some of these students already had stereotypes of scientists as men. At several other visits, teachers made a point to comment on how much they appreciated a woman coming into the schools as a science expert. More broadly, though, I agree we need every kind of scientist (with respect to demographics and subjects) getting more involved in energizing kids. I like to call it science evangelism - spreading the good news of science ... (and start breaking down those stereotypes early)

sarcozona said...

I'm a mathy woman in science and I've definitely struggled most with my male peers. Women are still rare in the higher level math courses at my school. The eye-rolling at my questions in my multivariable calculus class only stopped when the professor announced the men and women's test averages separately - and the women's average was 20 points higher. It's frustrating not getting invited to study groups and feeling left out in the conversations before class. Average guys can succeed in this environment, but women have to be better.

Matthew said...

Since the story itself is just an anecdote I thought I'd toss in my own. My experience has always been just the opposite. I am a male Engineer. While I was in school, just a few years ago, most of the people I know had the opposite reaction. Often females would excel so well that people were surprised if a girl expressed that she thought she was "bad at science." It seemed people usually assumed that females were better at science - and that this wasn't surprising.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, it's not getting any better. I went through a Tech program in my undergrad and the women in the program were continually putting up with this and other forms of stereotyping. In groups they were forced out of the programming positions and into secretary like roles. Their opinions were ignored in classes and meetings both by fellow students and faculty.

At the same time we saw our enrollment of female students decline by over half dropping down to almost single digit percentages. This makes it that much harder to improve the views of women in the college.

Of course we women don't always help ourselves in this matter. I remember sitting in my 100 level courses hearing other girls stand up and say they were in the major because "their dad told them they could make a lot of money". (Pre-IT bubble bust) Not the best motivation for your education

Anonymous said...

on the plus side of things - I am a woman postdoc and I have never directly experienced any sexist behavior from my colleagues (including old white men) or the public. Most people when they hear I am a scientist don't even seem surprised- so I am optimistic about the attitude of the general public towards women in science.

The only comments that discourage me are the ones that express surprise that professional women - in science and otherwise - should and will want to put their babies in day care at a very young age. These comments have been made by men and women alike. I don't have children yet, but it is a worry of mine. But I think this sort of attitude is a general bias in our society (and maybe all?) that the only meaningful work is done full time and that you cannot transition from full to part time and back and still expect to be successful.

Anonymous said...

Jacopo, I'm Italian too (as I guess you are) and a woman. Yes, my experience was that as student, and even to a certain degree as grad student, there wasn't much bias in my field (chemistry), except the occasional prof who encouraged me to pass the exam to teach high school "just in case". The assistant profs, who in Italy are not independent, were more or less balanced too; but as I followed their careers, none of the women has made it to full prof, versus 4 of the men who were at the same career stage when I was a grad student. None of the full profs in my dept, Organic Chemistry, had ever been a woman (OK, some other depts were better). Even worse, I recently gave a talk at my alma mater: now even the assistant profs are invariably male. Women after grad school struggle with temporary contracts.
I left to do my postdoc abroad and I did not go back. In retrospect, my male colleagues in grad school all had the opportunity of at least a temporary job at the U, and many were offered positions. I wasn't. It worked out fine, as I'm now a prof in the US, but I do feel that I had to leave.

ashlee said...

As a female chemist I have had very fortunate and nurturing experiences in undergrad and grad school, and have never felt slighted over my gender. From what I have read recently, I get the feeling I've been extremely lucky in this respect. My grad advisor was awesome and motivating, though I came to think that I did not ever want to have is grant writing life. This was especially true when I saw how hard he worked (slept only ever 4 hrs a night) to balance his career and his kids, and that was with a stay at home wife to take care of them. I was always impressed that he made the choices the coach soccer, etc., but couldn't image that life, especially without the stay at home spouse. I am now a postdoc with a female assistant prof. who lives for her job, which I also don't see as a sustainable living for myself.
While I am still planning to apply for 4 yr college positions after this, I have begun to harbor dreams of teaching high school, and working in someone else's lab doing research during the summer. I love research AND I want to teach, but my biggest hangup with having my own research lab is the grant writing. I have always hated writing and find it VERY difficult to finish papers and proposals even now, when I write so few of them, that a lifetime of grant writing sounds to me like a self-imposed jail sentence. I wrote all of this to say, perhaps, it it hard to really pinpoint a specific reason why women leave academia.

amy said...

sarcozona: I've found the social aspects of sexism to be difficult as well. I'm one of only two women in my dept., and I feel left out when the guys get together to watch soccer, go to the firing range (!), play poker, etc., etc. Conferences are worse: the guys get together in big groups and go out to drink and pick up women. They're open to having "hot" women tag along, but I don't fit in that category. And the young guys are at least as bad as the older ones, so I have no hope that things will change when the older generation retires. Fortunately, I've started making connections with women in other departments, so things are getting a little better. And reading FSP always helps!

Julie said...

I just wanted to echo some of the other comments, that this is not simply an issue of old, biased men. I am finishing up my thesis work right now, and the most sexist comment I heard during the last couple of years actually came from a female postdoc in my lab.

Are these biased attitudes so ingrained in our thinking that even a successful woman can slip into this line of thinking?

sara said...

What really drove the point home for me and for my husband was the discrimination we've seen in our own lives.

He and I are interested in the same field of research. We took intro physics together, but because of my own biases and lack of information about what a physics degree could lead to, I majored in biology whereas he majored in physics.

Over the years, we've had an opportunity to see how differently we are treated, even though we are perfectly matched in ability and on paper (GRE, GPA, etc). We have 3 cases where we both emailed a professor about job opportunities, months or years apart. I invariably got responses to the tune of "no money available", whereas my husband got responses such as "I have money set aside for someone special". After one or two, you think it's just a coincidence of timing, but after a while, you start to think it may be something more. We have also found this with regard to applying to PhD programs.

It's difficult because I want to think that it's just coincidence. But it keeps adding up. I suspect now that the discrepancies are more related to our undergrad degrees: physics versus biology. But the original decision to major in biology rather than physics was caused by implicit bias of my own, as well as differences in encouragement from advisors. So it still comes down to sexism.

What has been most interesting to me has been my husband's take on issues of sexism in science. He grew up in an extended family of strong women so he never experienced discrimination against women growing up. When we met, he would have said that it doesn't happen anymore. And as a tall, caucasian, handsome physicist, he's accustomed to being treated with a certain level of respect, which he just assumed was awarded to all of our peers. As he sees first-hand how differently he and I are treated, he is now aware that this discrimination exists. I think it's difficult to believe (because, like they said, it's 2009 already) that this stuff still goes on.

Thank you for sharing the radiocast.

Anonymous said...

I must agree with some of the other comments. I am a senior female math major in the U.S., the worst sexist bias I have encountered has been at the hands of an early thirties male prof and an older female prof. And people still comment about the girls n math (wow! weird!) even though I see an awful lot of girls in my dept. I'm not sure why this persists. And in response to sarcazona, I have given up on contributing to class discussions because 4 years of being treated like my questions are stupid (even though I'm a successful undergrad and already received some good, funded offers at grad programs next year!) has worn my ass out. So I keep my mouth shut during lecture. I feel that the best thing I can do is just get my PHD and make LOTS of connections with other lady science folks. My life really turned around after I got a female thesis advisor.

profJ said...

Our faculty have been grappling with how undergraduates treat female faculty in the classroom. Women faculty have more students who challenge their expertise and ability as scientists. Students' sexist attitudes also affect the ratings they give professors at the end of the term, which can have a detrimental impact on FSPs careers.

Anonymous said...

"Since the story itself is just an anecdote I thought I'd toss in my own."

Matthew, look up male privilege. Examine it. Consider it. That *you* don't see these things happening, doesn't meant they aren't happening. And, if you notice, this "just an anecdote" has been echoed multiple times throughout the thread. Obviously, it's not just an ancedote.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of subtle sexism, my friend and I were a bit dismayed by this recent news article: http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090204/full/457650a.html

truthspeaker said...

Speaking of stereotypes, it disturbs me that childcare is still seen as a women's issue, even by some feminists. Tackling that stereotype would help eliminate some of these biases.

Also speaking of stereotypes, I'd like to point out to amy that some women enjoy playing poker, watching soccer, and shooting guns. It's only because of stereotyping that those are seen as male activities.

Anonymous said...

"There was only unanimous agreement on the gender of my neighbor for one sentence, "My neighbor is a scientist."

Yeah, like the joke: A father and son were in a car crash and they were rushed to hospital. The son was rushed into the operating room and the doctor said I can not operate on him he is my son. How is this possible?

Anonymous said...

I am actually surprised to hear this -- I am an applied mathematician on the faculty at the Canadian equivalent of an R1. My current three grad students are all female. Over the summer I graduated one male and one female. We have more than 50% female grad students (yes, yes, the faculty ratio is much lower [but not amongst the recent hires]). Our female graduands always have good PDF opportunities (the woman over the summer went straight to faculty). Maybe we are just weird.

I have to take slightly disagree with Jose about women in med school though. There part of the situation is that far fewer men are applying! Instead, they are going to B-school or into law where they feel they can make much more money for much less work. I'll try and dig up the report about this. We certainly see it here -- we have lots of female joint Kinesiology/math undergrads trying to get to med school and male math/philosophy or math/economics looking to go onto law or business.

John said...

re 7:25am post:

I'll have hope for women in science when departments are forced to hire people who are different from the pasty white morons currently in power.

Stereotyped retrograde thinking like this is a problem, not a solution, nor the kind of libel to ignore.

I'm surprised 10 hours and 15 posts can go by on the topic of derogation by stereotyping without anyone calling out the clearest example present.

Pagan Topologist said...

I wanted to be a scientist when I was a child; I became a mathematician for a variety of reasons. I am male, but I am always surprised by the stories about how women scientists and science students are treated, because when I was a child, Marie Curie was held up to me as the most visible icon of what it meant to be a scientist. Einstein was a distant second, and I don't think I had ever heard of him until he died, when I was nine years old. Is Mme. Curie not still pointed out to students as the archetype scientist? Or was this just in the 1950's?

Tas said...

It seems to me we are still dealing with the problems because they are still there. Which to me means that no matter what changes a few individuals have made, the institution itself has not addressed what it is that actually chases women (and, while we are at it, minorities) away from the field in the first place.

So the real question is, what is it that causes those problems?

John said...

Despite my contrarian nature, the treatment of women in science is obviously a problem. I think some here overstate and others understate the problem, but it remains.

I think it may be simply a function of men driving much of the administration of science and liking their own image, but who can tell until the numerical discrepancy between men and women is greatly reduced.

zed said...

ProfJ- I'm really interested in this as well. I'm amazed at how many comments I get in undergrad evaluations along the lines of 'she clearly knows the material' or even, 'you know the stuff, just relax'. Of COURSE I 'know the material'!!! It's an intro class. I just can't imagine they write things like this for even the most inept male prof.

Eve said...

Have to agree with the most recent Anonymous; I think Canada is in some sort of discrimination Bermuda triangle. I've been an undergrad physics, computer science and psychology student, and am currently a neuroscience grad student, and in none of those situations have I ever been made to feel out of place or stupid or in the minority. I've never once been met with surprise that I was female (although when someone discovered my pseudonym at the humour paper I used to write for, they said they thought I was a dude). I have a male advisor at the moment and he is a fierce advocate for women in science. So maybe there is still some bias against funny girls, but not smart girls.

ah said...

Rather than just griping about gender stereotypes, we women can use scientific knowledge to work around them. Virgina Valian's book 'Why so slow' and the Gender Equity Project use research in Psychology to show how everyone (men and women, young and old) have implicit ideas about gender differences. More importantly, Psychology is starting to show how women can best promote their careers in the current environment, and how we can work over the longer term to change the environment.

Some more info at -
http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/genderequity/
http://maxweber.hunter.cuny.edu/psych/faculty/valian/valian.htm

amy said...

truthspeaker: yes, of course some women do enjoy sports, playing poker, etc. And I certainly don't think my colleagues are sexist because they like these activities. Nor are they responsible for the fact that I don't happen to enjoy them. My hobbies include sewing and knitting, and I haven't had the fortune to have any male colleagues who enjoy those things.

My point is simply this: even if no individual person is sexist, the gender imbalance itself creates a situation that is difficult for the minority gender. It's simply more likely that among 9 men and 2 women, more of the men will find activities they enjoy doing together. Add on to this the fact that there are all kind of barriers to men and women hanging out together as friends. I'm also the only single person in my dept, and I know that creates problems. The guys get together in pairs sometimes to go out for a drink or play video games together. What if I went out with one of them to do those things instead? His wife would get jealous, and the whole thing would be awkward. To be fair, the guys have been very nice about inviting me over for dinner with their families, and that works fine. But I don't think they're going to invite me to the poker games or out for a drink.

Just to add another anecdote: when I was in grad school, a bunch of the male grad students formed what they "jokingly" called a men's-only club that would get together for poker and academic discussions. Fortunately, there were enough women in the dept. (about 1/3 of the students), that we were able to get together for our own discussions.

lusenok said...

All the lab coats I worn in this country felt strangely uncomfortable. I couldn't realize what the problem is until someone pointed out they all have male-type buttons (sewn on the right side).
Such a subtle but a tell-tale sign...

chemfan said...

My favorite is when male students think that if they start a sexist statement with "not to be sexist, but..." or "I don't want to be sexist, but..." they can expect me not to be offended. They are sorely, sorely mistaken.

DrDoyenne said...

This topic is very relevant for me, since I’ve become increasingly aware that gender bias still exists—and more importantly, that young women in science seem to be oblivious to it.

I’m a senior scientist who started out in college when females were rare in many fields of science (60’s & 70’s). So there were not only no role-models for me (other than the few historical figures such as Marie Curie), but a lot of active discouragement for me to pursue a career in science.

Fortunately, I persevered and have become a successful scientist.

What to do about bias is a difficult question. I continue to challenge sexist comments whenever I hear them, but try to minimize the whining—which generally falls on deaf ears and/or puts people on the defensive (even those males who are generally supportive).

Instead, I’ve decided to take an active, but positive step that may help redress imbalances. I’ve formed a section or chapter within an international society I belong to—the group is called “Women in XXX”, which will focus on ways to help female scientists in our field succeed. We are hosting symposia (at our society conferences) on improving skills (science writing, presentations, grants-woman-ship, etc.) as well as setting up a mentoring program that matches up senior scientists (both male and female) with students and early-career females. We are hoping to attract male members, especially advisors and mentors, in the hopes of raising their awareness of women’s issues. I’m also helping to design a web page, which will be part of the society web site, that highlights the females in our society and the work they do.

I also think (as another poster commented) that going into the elementary, middle, and grade schools and giving presentations/ demonstrations is important--so that both boys and girls can see that scientists are not all white males. I’m scheduled to visit several middle schools in a couple of weeks to talk about my science---this is part of a program sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution called Scholars in the Schools (www.scholarsintheschools.org/home.htm). I’m pretty sure I’ll be the first female scientist many of them have met in person.

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to offer some ideas for combating bias and helping prepare younger females for overcoming the obstacles that await them in “the real world”.

Ms.PhD said...

It's funny to read this since I had a very similar experience this week.

I went to one of these Esteemed Older Woman Receives Award type of seminars, where this woman who got her PhD in the '50s was talking about how she has tried to fight for women's rights in science while having a science career.

The saddest part to me is not what she went through. It's that I've experienced most of the same things she describes, and she and all her friends assume that they don't exist anymore.

They do, and they're not going away anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Try searching for "scientist" and "professor" in google images.

Anonymous said...

I'm a PhD student in a science field and yes, this is STILL a problem. As the first commenter suggested, I have been part of a community outreach project that sends students out in pairs to local public middle and junior high schools to visit science classes and lead some fun and educational demos/experiments and also promote college and STEM fields in a school district that is poor and very non-white. My counterpart for these visits is a man of Southeast Asian heritage, so we figured "hey, a woman and a brown man...good team." Well, the students mostly assume that I am his wife or girlfriend coming along to "help the scientist." Arrgghhh. But I guess this is what we have to keep doing to make things change.

butterflywings said...

Anon, 5.20pm: that's not a joke. The very fact that some people are confused and don't get that the surgeon could be his mother shows unconscious stereotyping.

Pagan Topologist - Marie Curie wasn't held up as an example to me, I discovered her when I was around 14 and I still remember the sense of 'So women CAN be scientists and have a family life'. As truthspeaker says, it's childcare and domestic issues that mean women do

Although the guys sports'n'poker'n'shooting thing IS a major way women are kept out. I feel that in my workplace. And yes, some women do enjoy those things, and I notice that those women are more liked and progress faster. I don't enjoy those things. Should I force myself to? Why act like a stereotypical male, like someone I'm not?

And some men aren't into those things, either.

The answer is more diversity, and for progression not to depend on being one of the guys - not for women to act like stereotypical men.

MsPhD (and others) sad, isn't it? *sigh*.

Anonymous said...

Many girls who might become excellent scientists do not take science at high school, or perhaps only maths and biology but not chemistry or physics. Whether this is due to conditioning or a wider group of interests I'm not sure. They may perhaps instead pick up science intheir first year at university and become hooked, so visible female role models at this stage remains important.

Anonymous said...

I see young male assistant professors who are my age, rapidly adopting the attitudes and stances of their older male mentors which often includes gender stereotypes. So whereas these young guys may have been less sexist when they were in school and postdoc, now as faculty they are becoming more so. That is very sad. I don't know how to explain it. One hypothesis is that in their desperation to 'fit in' into the culture of their departments (engineering and physics) and gain acceptance among the senior colleagues who will be judging their tenure worth, they adopt the attitudes and mannerisms of their senior faculty colleagues whom they are in awe of. Another hypothesis is that whereas when they were in grad school and postdoc they may have had wives or girlfriends who were also grad students and postdocs, now it is more likely that the men are the ones with the TT job while their significant others didn't make it (because we know that there IS still gender bias especially in physical sciences) or else chose to sacrifice their careers to raise the kids. So as time goes by these young male professors' lives become more gender-stereotyped so their attitudes can't help but shift as well.

estraven said...

@Jacopo: Italy is different. Traditionally, Italy has many poorly paid entry positions, with a very reasonable percentage of women; women full professors are few and far apart.

Moving out of Italy was a terrible shock in that sense - during my first year in Germany people assumed I must be a secretary. Central and Northern Europe are like the US.

Anonymous said...

Zed -- I'm a male professor and I have won two teaching awards. Students line up to take my classes, they know I am an outstanding teacher. I regularly get comments like one of yours on my teaching evaluations for introductory classes: "he clearly knows the materials". That one, at least, seems not to be a sexist comment. The one telling you to "relax" might be sexist, although I suspect that FSP's husband would get similar comments when he was coming across as angry (I just read that post).

And I'll note my anecdote above is not meant to deny ProfJ's point; it's likely class evals for science faculty have a gender bias, which sucks. Such class evals are used for things such as teaching awards I won, for example. And promotion and tenure.

John said...

"clearly knows the material" is not sexist, and it's a COMPLIMENT, in my experience.

In fact, overall, my impression is student evaluations are not biased towards men, rather the reverse (or more likely women are just better teachers), peer reviews are the bigger problem.