January 12, 1987 · Cavalier Daily

Women Face Bias in the Classroom

Bernice Sandler, executive director on the Status and Education of Women of the Association of American Colleges, asserts that female students face subtle forms of discrimination in the classroom, including less eye contact from professors and the prohibition of all-female lab groups.


1987-02-12 - Women Face Bias in the Classroom.pdf
1987-02-12 - Women Face Bias in the Classroom part 2.pdf
Catherine Peebles
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Women Face Bias in the Classroom
Cavalier Daily Staff Writer
While many of the overt barriers to women in education have fallen, many subtle barriers still exist, according to Bernice Sandler, executive director of the project on the Status and Educa- tion of Women of the Association of American Colleges.
Obstacles facing women in higher education are "often so invisible that we hardly know they're there,” according to Sandler, who addressed a crowd in the Cavalier Room last night. "Often women and men faculty unconsciously treat women differently from men in the thus undermining women’s confidence."
The subtle differences in treatment Sandler mentions include professors making less eye contact with women students than men, grouping students according to sex (especially in laboratory situations] and being more attentive and responsive to male student's comments than to those of female students.
Sandler cited an instance of a professor not allowing all-women lab teams because he said the women would need someone to help them figure out how to use the machinery.
Sandler emphasized that although these aspects of teacher-student communication may seem trivial, "repeated gives women a subtle but strong message" that they are not as valuable in academia as men are.
Sandler’s studies also have found women are more likely to be interrupted in class discussions than are men, and men have much more control over the topic of conversation.
Both men and women faculty also tend to wait longer for men to answer a question than women, perhaps assuming that men are using the time to think about the answer whereas women simply don't know it, Sandler added.
According to Sandler's findings, men more often are called by name in the classroom, and while male students are referred to as "men,” their female counterparts often are referred to as "girls or gals,” implying inequality.
Sandler said different perceptions and expectations are the cause of much of the unconscious bias in the classroom today, women frequently are perceived as not as interested as men in math or science, Sandier said. She noted that Princeton University, which currently enrolls the lowest percentage of women of all the Ivy League universities, claims that the low enrollment of women is due to the university's emphasis on sciences and math, Princeton is trying to recruit female students by interesting them in specifically in humanities programs, Sandler said.
Another cause of unequal treatment of women in education, according to Sandler, is a devaluation of women engrained in many people from childhood.
She mentioned a study in which magazine articles were distributed to people who consistently rated them as higher quality when a male byline appeared than when a female wrote the story.
Sandler suggested that increased awareness of the classroom climate among college students, faculty and staff would help to solve the problem.
Date Added March 8, 2017
Date Modifed December 9, 2017
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

Item Relations

This item has no relations.