Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) 43rd Conference
March 15-17, 2018
Title: Language and Gender Equity in Online Classrooms
Authors: Lily Fesler, Rachel Baker, Brent Evans
There are substantial and persistent differences in professional outcomes between men and women, and factors within the classroom may contribute to these differences. Research has shown that peer groups influence students’ performance, but we know little about how students’ gender biases may impact their interactions with their peers and thus contribute to gender differences in students’ educational experiences (Bettinger, Liu, & Loeb, 2016; Crosnoe, Cavanagh, & Elder, 2003).
In recent years, postsecondary students have been increasingly taking classes online, and much of students’ learning in online courses occurs in discussion forums (Bettinger et al., 2016; Seaton, Bergner, Chuang, Mitros, & Pritchard, 2014). In this paper, we use data from a randomized experiment in 124 MOOCs to test whether students use different language to respond to a student’s discussion forum post if they believe the poster is female instead of male.
We find that males use less analytical language when responding to female posters, and that females do not change their language based on poster gender. This has implications for understanding the reasons behind the differences in educational and professional opportunities for men and women.