Girl professors vs. Guy professors

4 out of 4:  The number of female professors* in my first semester of HGSE.  100%.

2 out of 4: The number of my professors this semester who are men.  So I’m naturally inclined to make comparisons.

These observations are also “supported”by experiences by a few classes that I sat in on with other professors (one male and one female).  Which brings my sample size to a modestly pathetic 10 professors.   Begin the (potentially founded, but mainly foundering) tentative hypothesizing:


  1. References to dead, classical dudes

For some reason, every male professor made a reference to Plato or Socrates or Aristotle or some other Greek philosopher DURING THE FIRST CLASS!   Why is this? Here are some ideas:

  • Academic guys just think that classical dudes are cool.  Why not?
  • There is an underlying belief that mentioning these “great thinkers” will somehow justify or validate the lesson / professor.
  • Conversely – female professors are sick of males blabbing on about ancient history and are glad of the opportunity to move on to the 21st Century…

2. Ego

While both male and female professors at Harvard are guilty of this, it seemed way more flagrant for males.  I’m talking about professors who assigned readings that they wrote. For example, if you’re in professor Smoot’s class, almost every reading seems to include Smoot’s name in the citation.  However, this perceived male/female difference may also be due in part to:

3.  To-do lists

It seemed like female professors gave more assignments than male professors.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about length or difficulty or duration of assignments, I mean how many “things” a student needs to check off before the next class.  For example, one female teacher may assign readings A, B, C, and D as well as discussion post X and working on project Y.  However, male teacher may just assign reading A and reading supplement B.   Although, I did find several counter examples… Definitely the least solid of these points, so feel free to contest it…

4. Taking Turns

From my humble perspective, female professors allotted more class time for discussions and group and partner activities.  Men seemed to prefer solo lecturing.

This doesn’t mean that female teachers were necessarily better at discussion leading or that male teachers did not include any, but it seemed like female professors planned for specific student-centered activities more than their Y-chromosomed counterparts.

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So what do you think about guy vs. girl professors?  Do you agree or disagree with these observations?  Drop a post in the comments with your opinion!

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* male, female, guy, girl, woman, man – ok, so these terms are not black and white.  I’m using them as the professor appeared to me.   I never asked for clarification, nor was I ever corrected for using he and she where I saw appropriate.


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