More gender bias in academia? Examining the influence of gender and formalization on student worker rule following

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Jaclyn Piatak
Zachary Mohr


Gender Bias, Rule Following, Formalization, Representation in Academia


Student workers can influence professor productivity through the quality of research or teaching support provided. This is, in part, dependent on whether students follow the directions or rules put forth by the professor. While research on rule following is emerging, we know little about what influences rule following in student-professor work relationships. Using a survey experiment, we examine whether the way in which information is conveyed and who conveys it shapes student rule following. While we find students largely follow rules regardless of whether they are written or unwritten, we find significant gender bias. Male students are less likely to follow instructions given by a female professor than a male professor. Gender bias among student workers is another bias in academia that may influence productivity, but perhaps greater representation could reverse this trend.