Today, I’m following up on a short post about the use of the word abrasive in performance reviews for women. Similar discussions of word choice in student evaluations of college professors have been a hot topic in the past week. See Is the Professor Bossy or Brilliant in the New York Times. Or in Inside Higher Ed yesterday:
A law dean last month urged students to stop commenting on female professors’ attire in reviews, noting that they don’t do so in the same way for men.
Professor Benjamin Schmidt provides an interactive chart for viewing the distribution of words used to describe male and female instructors in a range of disciplines based on reviews from RateMyProfessor.com. Use of abrasive, although relatively rare (e.g., appearing twice per million words for accounting instructors), still appears to be linked to gender. The chart plots its use in negative reviews. What’s up with students of criminal justice and political science?
Here are the results for rude. Note that this word is far more commonly used (e.g., between 250 to 850 appearances per million in negative reviews). And it is clearly attributed more often to female than male instructors across nearly every discipline.
I encourage you to do your own searches. And, for those who want to investigate Schmidt’s methodology, he explains details of the sample, etc. on his website.
If the tool itself interests you, it’s called Bookworm. You can use it to explore lexical trends in texts collected by the developers or even in your own.