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Men are smart and women are beautiful.

That's according to students who rate professors on the popular RateMyProfessor.com.

A new interactive tool from Benjamin Schmidt, an assistant professor at Northeastern University, shows starkly what professors have been saying for years: class evaluations are not unbiased, particularly if you're a woman.

Schmidt's database reveals that students are much more likely to attribute favorable descriptors to men across virtually all courses of study, from math to music, on the website.

While the database doesn't reveal the gender of the student doing the rating, it does show how frequently certain words appear. Students are much more likely to include the rather generic "good" in a rating, and somewhat less likely to include the word "smart." But in both cases, they are more likely to assign the positive attributes to male professors.


A sizable gender gap emerges for the word "funny," with female professors far less likely to be considered humorous. It's well-documented that that particular bias - that women aren't funny - extends far beyond the classroom.


Students are also more likely to assign negative or superficial descriptors to women, including the terms "mean" and "beautiful."


While this is terrible news for professors, the implications for women in the broader workplace are alarming.

There's no indication the biases students have in college dissipate as they age. So what happens when a former student grows into a manager trying to decide who to promote?


One just needs to read Adam Grant and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's recent New York Times piece, "Madam C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee," to find the unfortunate answer.

Graphics credit: Omar Bustamanete

Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.