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Title:The frequency of "brilliant" and "genius" in teaching evaluations predicts the representation of women and African Americans across academia
Author(s):Storage, Daniel S
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):gender gaps
race gaps
ability beliefs
Abstract:Because of the negative stereotypes against women’s and African Americans’ intellectual abilities, academic fields that prize brilliance and genius might be unwelcoming to members of these stigmatized groups. A recent nationwide survey of academics provided initial support for this possibility, insofar as the fields whose practitioners believed that natural talent is crucial for success in their field were also the fields where women and African Americans were least likely to obtain Ph.D.’s. The present study seeks to replicate this initial finding with a different, and arguably more naturalistic, measure of the extent to which brilliance and genius are prized within a field. Specifically, we measured field-by-field variability in the emphasis on these intellectual qualities by tallying college students’ use of the words “brilliant” and “genius” in over 14 million reviews on Consistent with prior work, this simple word count predicted both women’s and African Americans’ representation at the Ph.D. level across the academic spectrum: Fields where the words “brilliant” and “genius” were frequent in undergraduates’ evaluations also had fewer female and African American Ph.D.’s. This relationship held even when accounting for a field’s intellectual rigor (as indexed by students’ average scores on the Quantitative Graduate Record Examination [GRE]), as well as several other explanations concerning group differences in representation. The fact that such a simple, naturalistic measure of a field’s focus on brilliance predicted the magnitude of its gender and race gaps speaks to the tight link between ability beliefs and diversity.
Issue Date:2015-11-25
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Daniel Storage
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-03-02
Date Deposited:2015-12

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