A lot can be gleamed student reviews of professors: who are most loved and hated professors in each school, how well they teach a class, and how harshly they grade.
Thanks to assistant professor of history Benjamin Schmidt at the Northeastern University, we’re able to analyze a trove of student reviews. Professor Schmidt scraped over 14 million reviews from RateMyProfessors.com, a site that lets student review their professors.
An analysis of the data shows that students are most likely to describe professors teaching criminal justice as “sexy,” while professors of accounting are near the dead bottom.
Here is the full chart:
Traditionally “hip” subjects such as criminal justice and philosophy seem to give the professors a little edge. More standard and boring subjects such as math and accounting dull the professors’ personal charm. Or perhaps it may be a correlation, who knows.
In almost all of the subjects, male professors are more likely than female professors to be described as “sexy,” with the notable exceptions of physics, engineering, and economics.
While the chart can be fun to look at and inflammatory for certain egos, Prof. Schmidt warns the limitations of the data. For example, the gender of the professor was automatically inferred using an algorithm, so there may be some misinterpretations on androgynous names such as “Alex” or “Ashley.”
“This no peer review,” said Prof. Schmidt on his data, “and I wouldn’t describe this as a ‘study’ in anything other than the most colloquial sense of the word.”