bossy chart

Chart of the Day: Male profs are “geniuses,” female ones are “bossy”

A Northeastern University professor has created an interactive chart that reveals the gendered biases in students’ evaluations of their profs on You can input any word — like, say, “genius” or “bossy” — and see how often it’s used by gender and academic department. 

To continue with those examples, take a wild guess about how those two words broke down. Here are the results for “genius”:


And for “bossy”:

bossy chartAs the The Upshot sums up: “Men are more likely to be described as a star, knowledgeable, awesome or the best professor. Women are more likely to be described as bossy, disorganized, helpful, annoying or as playing favorites. Nice or rude are also more often used to describe women than men.” I’m sure if you spend a little time playing around with it, you’ll find even more depressing results.

These biases appear in job performances evaluations too. Meanwhile, a recent study of online course evaluations showed that students who thought they were being taught by women gave them worse marks than students who thought they were being taught by men, regardless of the actual gender of the instructor.


St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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