I teach math classes and I was speaking with the assistant chair of my department about a student who claimed that I was rude and put my students down when lecturing. (I'm a Ph.D. student.) This particular student was seeking a letter recommending tuition for my class be refunded (she dropped out) but I told the assistant chair that I do sometimes get comments like these in my evaluations. I know that I never intend to put anyone down when students ask questions in class, and I also know there are also students who feel that I'm a good instructor and like dealing with me. I get both of these types of comments in my evaluations (I'd say my evals on the whole are fine to good).
I don't want anyone to feel like I talk down to them or put them down and I mentioned this to the assistant chair. (She has only seen me lecture once and said I did a good job that one time.) She asked me to think about the gender/ethnicity of the students that say I'm "rude" or "put them down", and whether there is a pattern where female/minority students who are considered "underprivileged" in mathematics may respond differently to my style of instruction than white male or Asian-heritage students. (There is research to back this up.)
I don't have any hard data to check this for me personally but this hypothesis seems plausible. With most students I say that I'm generally direct; I try not to put the student down but I will tell them that they are incorrect and explain why. How should I adapt to make sure that "underprivileged" students don't feel put down or belittled in my class?