By Carl Straumsheim
Despite the talk about how massive open online courses, or MOOCs, will dramatically alter the landscape of higher education, the courses have in some ways taken academe back — to the days of huge gender gaps, when senior scholars overwhelmingly were men.
An unofficial count by Inside Higher Ed shows 8 of the 63 courses listed on edX’s website are taught by women, and an additional 8 are taught by mixed-gender groups. Of Coursera’s 432 courses, 121 feature at least one female instructor and 71 taught exclusively by them. Udacity lists 29 courses on its website, and while only two are taught by women, many of them were created by female course developers.
The gap, although vast, has narrowed as more institutions experiment with online learning. In January, edX didn’t offer a single course taught solely by a female faculty member, while Coursera offered 35. The last eight months have also seen more cooperation between faculty members across gender lines. In January, 14 of Coursera’s then-205 courses were taught by mixed-gender groups.
Coursera and Udacity declined to comment for this article. A spokesman for edX did not respond to a request to comment Friday.
“This is a remarkable statistic, if it’s true, but I do think that it may be pretty early to call the gap ‘persistent’ for a medium that is in its infancy,” Elisa New, professor of English at Harvard University, wrote in an e-mail. New will provide two modules of larger courses through edX this fall, which means she will be responsible for 35 percent of the courses taught by female faculty members. “It is only in the last few months that my colleagues even became aware of what MOOCs are, much less decided to do one.”
[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/09/03/more-female-professors-experiment-moocs-men-still-dominate ]