7

I am 27 years old unmarried male teacher. I have been a teacher (lecturer) for the last 6 months in an Engineering institution. My students are 4 to 5 years younger than me.

The problem is that while teaching I have soft corner towards female students. I don't understand whether it is due to opposite gender attraction or due to female students asking more doubts than male students. I help female students more than male students. I know that it is against moral ethics of teacher's profession. But I couldn't change my attitude. Now, I think that male students might have noticed this and they may make complaints against me to the principal.

So what changes can I make? While teaching how should I give justice equally to both female and male students equally? Or should I quit teaching?

  • 17
    If it's at the point of people complaining to the principle then the situation is very bad and "But I couldn't change my attitude yet" isn't going to wash as an excuse. So you better start thinking of something better than that. – Kilisi Apr 19 '16 at 19:41
  • 11
    What kind of environment are you teaching in? "principal" implies primary or secondary school, but your students are 22-23 years old. Please edit your post to clarify. – ff524 Apr 19 '16 at 20:11
  • 2
    P.S. for what it's worth, studies suggest that teachers in general tend to treat male and female students differently (example), but usually not to the point where it's so noticeable that the students are complaining to the principal. – ff524 Apr 19 '16 at 20:16
  • 2
    @ff524 in the US, maybe. My (Scottish) university has a principal, but neither my primary nor my secondary school did. – Flyto Apr 20 '16 at 8:17
  • 2
    Male students complaining that you are giving too much attention to the female students: that is not as bad as female students complaining that you are giving them too much attention! But in any case: now that you know about it, you must change. – GEdgar Apr 20 '16 at 15:30
8

Normally, the problem is the other way round.

For instance, one phenomenon is that I often found with male students is that they override/overrule/overtalk female ones. If that happens more than sporadically, I interrupt them and tell them to let the other student speak out (of course this cuts both ways). I mention this as a concrete example for a trigger/action based approach that works well to reduce imbalance. With this, I get good participation from the whole group.

You talk about "soft spots". Beware, this signals danger. Your student's gender should be strictly taboo for how you deal with them. It is absolutely essential that all your students feel equally respected. Is it that you give more time to females? Then actively allocate more time to males. Is it that you encourage females more? Balance this by introducing some competitive element (such as voting on responses, competitive problem solving); male students tend to like that (of course, I am generalising, it needs playing by ear). Intersperse your presentations with adventurous anecdotes of topic-relevant scientists.

Generally: make a point of addressing more of the neglected students. BTW, this does not only hold for gender, but also for preference by activity or ability. Activate less able, or less active students. If you do that well, you earned your badge as teacher.

Under no circumstance treat your teaching as a dating opportunity. It is not. Getting a jealous girlfriend might be an idea to help getting things under control - if you cannot do it yourself, it may be the way to delegate that job to her (and I am not yet entirely sure whether I am joking here).

15

If you really can't change your actions, find a different profession.

You're aware of the issue - you admit you spend more time helping the females than the males. Find a way to equalize that problem. Be sure that you make your time available to all genders - use office hours, or clarify to all students how to get help from you. Look for the patterns where you realize that you cut off help from the men and continued to help the women - there's like an unconscious bias that you may be able to over come with a pattern.

Changing a pattern like this may not be easy - but it's what's rightfully expected.

Also ponder - why - why do you give women more time? Are you hoping for something more than a teacher/student relationship? Is something more pleasing about them? What's causing the problem, and can you reduce the factors that lead up to it?

I suppose the other alternative is to find a place where you teach only one gender. Then you don't treat your students unequally. Personally, that seems like taking a short cut.

2

Overcoming biases is extremely difficult. In order to reduce your bias, you need to identify when (not necessarily why) you give extra attention to the female students. Once you know when you give extra attention, you can work on being fairer. Some possibilities are:

  • If you preferable schedule them for office hours, you can use a first-come first-serve sign-up system (online or paper based).
  • If the bias is related to answering question after class, you could require students to make an orderly line and address people in order (i.e., take your choice out of it).
  • For question in class, you can use a "clicker" device so that people get addressed in order (and not when you see them).
  • If you spend more time on each question from females, you could either time your answers, or make sure you finish your answer with "does that answer your question"
  • If you grade differently based on gender, you can use anonymous electronic submission.
  • @User001 clickers are not only practical, they can be super useful: cmu.edu/teaching/clickers Most LMS systems (e.g., blackboard and moodle) allow anonymous marking. You say the rest are obvious, but don't say if you are already doing them. – StrongBad Apr 21 '16 at 11:23
0

should I quit teaching?

Maybe, due the fact:

I couldn't change my attitude. Now, I think that male students might have noticed this and they may make complaints against me to the principal.

Ans: Quit is not a solution. If you do not fix your attitude you can make the situation equally bad (i.e., people complaining to the principle, as mentioned in the comments) in other professions too. However, if you start fixing yourself from now onward, things can easily get right even in the teaching.

So what changes can I make? While teaching how should I give justice equally to both female and male students equally?

If this all is due to opposite gender attraction overwhelming you (as I understood):

The problem is that while teaching I have soft corner towards female students. I don't understand whether it is due to opposite gender attraction or due to female students asking more doubts than male students. I help female students more than male students.

While, you know (but you can't help yourself):

I know that it is against moral ethics of teacher's profession.

And, you've mentioned "unmarried" in the following (if you mean this as one of the factors deforming your attitude):

I am 27 years old unmarried male teacher. I have been a teacher (lecturer) for the last 6 months in an Engineering institution. My students are 4 to 5 years younger than me.

(while being the lecture seems to be a new chapter in your life)

I would suggest you to try to remove "un" ASAP.

OR

Try to get tharapies that would help you control yourself getting into such situation.

Left unchecked may lead to serious implications on your professional life at least.

  • 6
    Wait, am I read this right in that one of your suggestions is this person gets married as soon as possible? Highly doubt that would change anything. Married men don't stop being attracted to women. – Andrew Whatever Apr 20 '16 at 17:52
  • @Andrew Whatever As a side note, "being attracted to women" shouldn't be a problem. – tod Apr 20 '16 at 18:40
  • 1
    Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh this is about more than attraction, it kind of sounds like he's looking (consciously or not) for some kind of response from his female students. Maybe lonely and desiring female attention, in which case finding someone and getting married MIGHT help, but... it's not like a lot of married dudes don't do the same thing. – Andrew Whatever Apr 20 '16 at 18:56
  • @AndrewWhatever In my opinion, (though culture/country specific) tougher social and legal implications for married people (especially for men) can bar them or at least help them mend their ways. Which can also help a man stay content and concentrate on the right things to become a better professional. – tod Apr 21 '16 at 10:51
  • I wonder if there is any research on this. I haven't seen much evidence that people who like female attention stop liking it once married. – Andrew Whatever Apr 22 '16 at 15:22
-2

If you want to do justice to your profession then I would suggest a few tips:

  1. Divert your attention to weaker male students and arrange sessions for them.
  2. Always maintain direct eye contact with the male students and not with the female students (eventually you should, just avoid it for some time).
  3. Motivate men and talk with them whenever you talk to women. (I.e. just devote equal time to both males and females.)
  4. You can sometimes give favours to men instead women so that they are more inclined to you for any sort of help whenever it is required.
  5. Remind yourself consciously that you have to pay equal attention to all.

Hope this helps.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.