Friday Puzzler

Friday Puzzler: Why Are Most Online Courses Taught By Men?

By Barbara F. Walter

Lisa Martin and I have an op-ed in today’s LA Times about the explosion of online courses offered by American universities. We find this very exciting, because it means that students in every country with internet service will suddenly have access to knowledge and training that used to be beyond their reach.

We noticed, however, a pattern that we found puzzling. Almost all of the online classes offered are taught by male instructors. Even in fields where women are the majority of doctoral recipients and recent faculty hires — such as the humanities — the vast majority of classes offered by consortium like Coursera are taught by men.

So Friday’s puzzler is this: Why are the hundreds of college-level classes being offered online disproportionately taught by men?

Answers to last week’s puzzler:

On January 11th I asked why Hamas has never directed its attacks against the United States, Israel’s closest ally. Janusz’s answer was better than anything I could have written: “As Hamas is a strategic actor, it realized from the beginning that attacking the US, Europe or other states does not yield any benefit but entails high costs and may be a hindrance in achieving its goal.” Thanks to all for contributing.

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  • Not an answer, but an observation from my experience. I recently completed my masters in Education, but the vast majority of my teachers were female. The courses were offered by the same instructor to be taken in a classroom on campus or online.

    Are you referring to classes only given online, without the classroom option?

    I will be curious as to what the answer of mostly male online courses is. I have no idea, but I do know I will be pursuing my inclusions in this majority next year, while continuing instruction in my 7th grade classroom.

    Very Interesting piece in the Times!

    Mr Matt Pieroni
    http://www.MrMattPieroni.com

  • […] Last Friday I asked why the hundreds of college-level classes being offered online are disproportionately taught by men. I don’t know why this is the case, but I have at least three theories. The first is that women are electing not to volunteer to teach these classes. This may be because female instructors have too many other things going on in their lives, and don’t feel they can add any additional responsibilities to their already-full plates. It is also possible that a larger proportion of these women are assistant professors striving to get tenure and, therefore, focusing more on research than teaching. […]

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