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  • Men are brilliant, women are bossy: What research tells us about unconscious bias, gender and “genius”

    Salon - 02/10/2015

    Whether you think your professor is an eccentric genius or a disorganized mess might depend on his or her gender, according to data mapped by a history professor at Northeastern University.

    You can plug words like “rude” or “brilliant” into an interactive chart created by Benjamin Schmidt and see how often those words were used to describe professors in more than 14 million teacher ratings. Women were more likely to be described as “disorganized” whereas men were more likely to be called “knowledgeable.” (Interestingly, women were more likely to be called “role models.”)

    The data organized by Schmidt confirms a lot of what we already know about unconscious bias. Namely, that it’s real. As Claire Cain Miller noted last week at the Upshot, a recent report on performance reviews for nearly 250 tech company employees found that “women are much more likely to receive critical feedback than men, and women who are leaders are more likely to be described as abrasive, aggressive and emotional.” Other studies have shown that students give professors much higher ratingswhen they think the professor is a man, regardless of their actual gender.

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