Gendered Christian Professor Ratings

Gendered Christian Professor Ratings November 19, 2019

I recently learned that Dr. Ben Schmidt made a website about gendered language in teacher reviews. Here’s the explanation on the website about what it offers:

This interactive chart lets you explore the words used to describe male and female teachers in about 14 million reviews from

You can enter any other word (or two-word phrase) into the box below to see how it is split across gender and discipline: the x-axis gives how many times your term is used per million words of text (normalized against gender and field). You can also limit to just negative or positive reviews (based on the numeric ratings on the site). For some more background, see here.

Not all words have gender splits, but a surprising number do. Even things like pronouns are used quite differently by gender.

I thought about what it would be most interesting to type in, and decided that my field (and the pitfalls of teaching in it) would be worth exploring. And so I tried “God” first, and then “Christian.” I found the results from that latter one quite shocking:

I suspect that the above reflects Christians complaining in different ways about professors who are male or female and their treatment of their own Christian religious tradition. The jump for philosophy and other humanities is remarkable. What do you think is behind this? Any experience from reading or filling in course evaluations that might shed light on what is going on in this chart?

See more about this in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s teaching newsletter.

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  • Erp

    Religious Studies and theology probably fall under Philosophy/Humanities. The word Religion also shows a similar division and it might indicate a difference in the number of male and female teachers in such subfields

    I note that “fair” seems gender neutral but unfair is different.

  • John MacDonald

    As a Philosophy student, most of my professors in the Western Philosophical Tradition were Christian, which makes sense because their in-depth background in the history of Philosophy involved researching many great thinkers who also happened to be compelling Christian Philosophers: eg Scholasticism, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, etc.

    My teachers seemed to be spiritual anyway (Which makes sense for someone pursuing the academic path of an advanced degree in Philosophy), and found an expression of that spirituality shaped by the great thinkers of the Western tradition they admired so much.

    Conversely, my Nietzsche professor was an atheist, lol. I don’t necessarily agree with his atheistic interpretation of Nietzsche, though, because this was also the thinker (Nietzsche) who, in his own words, taught “amor fati” and saying “Yes and Amen” to all of existence.

    • John MacDonald

      This pattern may apply to the humanities generally since people who pursue in-depth, advanced study, for example, of English Literature, may tend to be those who are more spiritually inclined.