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Gender differences and similarities in online courses: challenging stereotypical views of womenThis paper considers gender differences in online contexts and examines current trends in women's performance, access and experience of online courses. It uses supportive case study examples and specific research into student' academic engagement, conceptions and perceptions of learning support in online environments. The analysis shows that women studying online are confident independent learners who may outperform their male counterparts. They do not have reduced computer and Internet access compared with men, nor are they disinclined to enrol on online courses. They attach greater value to the pastoral aspect of tutoring and have different interaction styles from men, which may have implications for online tutoring support. The gender debate needs to move on from access and performance to the differences and similarities in the degree of importance that men and women place on different interaction and tutoring styles online.
The role of gender in students’ ratings of teaching quality in computer science and environmental engineeringStudents’ ratings of teaching quality on course units in computer science and environmental engineering at a large Swedish university were obtained using the Course Experience Questionnaire; 8,888 sets of ratings were obtained from men and 4,280 sets were obtained from women over ten academic years. There were differences in the ratings given by students taking the two programs; in particular, teachers tended to receive higher ratings in subjects that were less typical for their gender than in subjects that were more typical for their gender. There were differences in the ratings given to male and female teachers, differences in the ratings given by male and female students, and interactions between these two effects. There was no systematic trend for students to give different ratings to teachers of the same gender as themselves compared with teachers of the other gender. Nevertheless, without exception even the statistically significant effects were small in magnitude and unlikely to be of theoretical or practical importance. It is concluded that the causes of differences in the career progression of male and female teachers in engineering education need to be sought elsewhere.