And of course this bias doesn’t just go away beyond the classroom.
Female college students are more likely to abandon studies in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines than their male classmates, and new research from the University of Washington suggests that those male peers may play a key role in undermining their confidence.
Published this week in the journal PLOS ONE, the study* found that males enrolled in undergraduate biology classes consistently ranked their male classmates as more knowledgeable about course content, even over better-performing female students.
The over-ranking equated to males ranking their male peers smarter by three-quarters of a GPA point* than their equally-performing female classmates, showing what researchers say amounts to a clear and consistent gender bias. Female students, on the other hand, repeatedly showed no significant bias in whom they picked as knowledgeable.
“This shows that there is a huge inequity in who male students think is strong in the class materials,” said lead author Dan Grunspan, a doctoral candidate in the UW Department of Anthropology.
“Males were consistently nominated as being more knowledgeable by their male peers, regardless of performance.”
Daniel Z. Grunspan, Sarah L. Eddy, Sara E. Brownell, Benjamin L. Wiggins, Alison J. Crowe, Steven M. Goodreau. Males Under-Estimate Academic Performance of Their Female Peers in Undergraduate Biology Classrooms. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (2): e0148405 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148405