Professors’ Choices for Course Materials – Gender Matters

Are you working on your syllabus for the spring? Take a minute to listen to the Academic Minute session with Brown University’s Jeff Colgan, Political Science and International Studies. He talks about a study he did using syllabi from International Relations courses. He found that, overall, 75-80% of assigned readings were written by men. This is roughly consistent with the demographics of the professors in the field of international relations: about 75% male. He found from the syllabi though that female professors differ in two ways from male professors in how they assign their coursework.

“First, women assign more work written by female researchers than male instructors do, on average about 5 more articles or books per course than men. Second, female instructors are much more reluctant to assign research that they themselves have written, as compared to male instructors. On average, men assign a little over three readings per course that they wrote, about twice as much as female instructors.”

Colgan encourages instructors to think about putting more scholarship from women on their syllabus – it will help you think harder about what you really want to teach and that will make your course better overall.


About Randolph Hollingsworth

An academic administrator at the University of Kentucky, affiliate faculty in the History Department and in Gender & Women's Studies, as well as with the UK Center for Equality and Social Justice
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