At a time when educators are looking to encourage more students, and more girls in particular, to pursue careers in science, a new study suggests that gender bias in students’ views of their high school teachers’ abilities could be setting back those efforts.
The study finds that male students rate their female science teachers significantly lower than their male teachers in biology, chemistry, and physics. Female students also rate women teachers negatively, though only in physics, according to the study.
Those attitudes show up even though male and female teachers were judged to be equally effective in preparing students for college-level science courses, as demonstrated by their grades in undergraduate science classes.
The study, completed by researchers from Clemson University, the University of Virginia, and the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, was published online last month in Science Education. It was based on a large-scale survey of undergraduate students which asks about their high school science experiences.
A version of this article appeared in the February 25, 2009 edition of Education Week