Skip to main content
Indiana University Bloomington
  •  
  •  

Gender Related Teaching Tips

  • Don't overlook capable but quiet students. Demand participation of all students, not just those who always raise their hands.
  • Give male and female students equal attention in advising and mentoring.
  • Give female and male students equal attention and equally specific feedback.
  • Monitor classroom dynamics to ensure that discussion does not become dominated by more aggressive students.
  • Vary the classroom structure to include more than just competitive modes of learning.
  • Revise curricula if necessary to include female experiences, and to include them in more than just stereotypical ways.
  • Increase wait timethe amount of time you allow for students to formulate an answer to a question in class.
  • Avoid sexist language in classroom discussions, lectures, and in written materials that you distribute to the class.
  • Do not ask female students to perform activities you would not request of male students or vice versa.
  • Examine your own classroom communication patterns and whether you are reaching all of your students, particularly in classes where female students constitute the minority, and thus enjoy less peer support
  • Arrange classroom situations where men and women work together
  • Try mixing the groups in a way that ensures that women and men students will occasionally have the opportunity to work with students of their own gender
  • Do not simply let students choose their own groups, for this will result in the same students always working with each other
  • Change your position in the classroom so that you have a chance to make close eye contact with different groups of students
  • If you assign specific functions to group members such as secretary, or group spokesperson, make sure that both male and female students have the opportunity to take roles requiring leadership
  • If you observe students making sexist remarks, whether in front of the whole class or in smaller groups, it is best to confront the student(s) and tell them that such remarks are inappropriate and do not further the purposes of the course.
  • In classes where gender or other group identity differences are likely to become the topics of discussion, give students printed guidelines that demand respect for all students during the first week of class. Or work out a class contract on rules of discussion at the beginning of the semester.
  • Female students' responses should be validated, but try also to push them to go further, and challenge them to do their best. By insisting that a female student follow her statement through to its larger implications, you will help her to develop her critical thinking skills, and will show your confidence in her ability to think critically.
  • You can decrease some of the fear students have of giving "the wrong answer" or of not having the answer by explaining that you do not expect every student to have the answer all of the time. Offer to students some questions for which you yourself do not have the answers and share with the class those moments where you are trying to work through a problem yourself.
  • Treat students as individuals not as representatives of their gender. Do not assume that a female student is necessarily interested in "women issues."
  • Avoid cutting material in a way that gives unequal treatment to men and women. Look for other shortcuts that will not arbitrarily exclude one gender.
  • Integrate work by women into the major concepts you emphasize in your course and avoid submitting to tokenism by putting a woman on your syllabus simply because she is a woman.
  • When designing your tests, make sure that you do not require information that one gender is more likely to possess. Never include material or concepts that have not been part of the course work. If you do want students to incorporate personal experiences, offer some choice in the questions you give or allow large enough parameters so as not to disadvantage anyone.
  • As a math or science teacher, you can have a tremendous influence on women in your class. First, establish a professional atmosphere comfortable for men and women alike. Second, make female students aware that they are capable of learning the material, and encourage those who perform well to take additional courses in the department or to pursue advanced studies in the field. When it is relevant, make reference to women currently conducting important research in your field. When talking about hypothetical scientists or mathematicians to illustrate a point, make sure you occasionally assume the scientist or mathematician is a woman. By doing this, you send out a message to students that your field is open to women as well as men.
  • Whether or not you choose to encourage or require non-sexist language from your students, you should attempt to make your own speech and written materials as gender-neutral as possible.
  • Do not comment on your students' physical appearance
  • Do not ask your female students to complete tasks inappropriate to their role as students, such as making coffee or copies for an interest group or club comprised mostly of male students
  • Do not invite a student to discuss the course over coffee or lunch as it can confuse students about your expectations because of the power you hold as a teacher.
  • Maintain the highest level of professionalism in and out of the classroom. Remarks considered denigrating of women or men, even when intended as humor, could constitute sexual harassment and could be prosecuted under the university policy