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A Professor Like Me: The Influence of Instructor Gender on College Achievement

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  • Florian Hoffman
  • Philip Oreopoulos

Abstract

Many wonder whether teacher gender plays an important role in higher education by influencing student achievement and subject interest. The data used in this paper helps identify average effects from male and female college students assigned to male or female teachers. In contrast to previous work at the primary and secondary school level, our focus on large first-year undergraduate classes isolates gender interaction effects due to students reacting to instructors rather than instructors reacting to students. In addition, by focusing on college, we examine the extent to which gender interactions may exist at later ages. We find that assignment to a same-sex instructor boosts relative grade performance and the likelihood of completing a course, but the magnitudes of these effects are small. A same-sex instructor increases average grade performance by at most 5 percent of its standard deviation and decreases the likelihood of dropping a course by 1.2 percentage points. The effects are similar when conditioning on initial ability (high school achievement), and ethnic background (mother tongue not English), but smaller when conditioning on mathematics and science courses. The effects of same-sex instructors on upper-year course selection are insignificant.

Suggested Citation

  • Florian Hoffman & Philip Oreopoulos, 2007. "A Professor Like Me: The Influence of Instructor Gender on College Achievement," NBER Working Papers 13182, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13182
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lucia Nixon & Michael Robinson, 1999. "The educational attainment of young women: Role model effects of female high school faculty," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 36(2), pages 185-194, May.
    2. Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2011. "Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-33, April.
    3. David S. Lee, 2005. "Training, Wages, and Sample Selection: Estimating Sharp Bounds on Treatment Effects," NBER Working Papers 11721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Florian Hoffmann & Philip Oreopoulos, 2009. "Professor Qualities and Student Achievement," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 83-92, February.
    5. Thomas Diprete & Claudia Buchmann, 2006. "Gender-specific trends in the value of education and the emerging gender gap in college completion," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(1), pages 1-24, February.
    6. repec:pri:edures:23.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Brandice J. Canes & Harvey S. Rosen, 1995. "Following in Her Footsteps? Faculty Gender Composition and Women's Choices of College Majors," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(3), pages 486-504, April.
    8. Victor Lavy, 2004. "Do Gender Stereotypes Reduce Girls' Human Capital Outcomes? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," NBER Working Papers 10678, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long, 2005. "Do Faculty Serve as Role Models? The Impact of Instructor Gender on Female Students," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 152-157, May.
    10. Holmlund, Helena & Sund, Krister, 2008. "Is the gender gap in school performance affected by the sex of the teacher," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 37-53, February.
    11. David Neumark & Rosella Gardecki, 1998. "Women Helping Women? Role Model and Mentoring Effects on Female Ph.D. Students in Economics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 220-246.
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    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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