If you’re a college student about to embark on the journey of registering for classes, you know a thing or two about RateMyProfessor.com.
The website is The Bible for students who are struggling to find a class to take, and, who haven’t taken a particular professor before. The premise of the website, for those who don’t know, is for students to leave a rating and review on professors who teach specific courses at specific universities around the world. The website, owned by MTV, first appeared in 1999 and has since become a staple of any college experience. If you’re familiar with the website, you know that some teachers have super high ratings, while others are just…horrid.
Rate my professor is really something pic.twitter.com/C1bD4GP7wI— Laura (@baecerra) May 5, 2018
Aside from students being able to leave a detailed review of each professor, they are also given the opportunity to rate how “hot” each professor is. If the professor gets enough “hot” responses, they are awarded the famous “chili pepper” on the site.
However, recently on Twitter, many professors began to speak out against the ability to rate them based on looks. BethAnn McLaughlin, a neurology professor at Vanderbilt University, shared her opinion on the “hotness rating,” saying that it is irrelevant to their teaching and should be removed.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, McLaughlin said that the rating debunks the credibility of many professors–specifically female ones.
“Some of my friends who had taught previously and meet the criteria for quote-unquote hotness … that’s not always a badge of honor. They’re often targets of comments about how they look and how they dress, and it undermines their credibility.”
“They come in with outstanding teaching capability and are really feeling like they’re making these earnest connections with our students. And then to be sort of denigrated and pushed aside that you were sexy. … That’s not a context you want to be sexy in, that’s not a compliment.”
After her tweet went viral on social media, many other professors began speaking out against the hotness rating system on the website, as well.
I agree 100%. I HATE those chili pepper ratings. I do not want my students to think of me in that way. ????— Debbie Gale Mitchell (@heydebigale) June 27, 2018
It's annoying as a Male prof. Cant imagine how unsettling it would be as a female prof. https://t.co/Bjqe3B0HIW— Benjamin Winslow (@benwins2) June 27, 2018
I agree. I was sharing with high school students yesterday how difficult it is for female professors as we are often scrutinized and criticized for our appearance (including attire) much more than male professors are. I would prefer my student respect my brain than my hotness. https://t.co/mWTj2bGFbK— Valerie Lemmon (@vlemmzwisdom) June 27, 2018
Thank you!!! As an adjunct professor at both a community college and a university, I have always been appalled by this!! I am in my 50's. Who cares how "hot" a kid just out of high school finds me!? That's not just creepy, it's an insult to my credentials.— MizFrizz ❄ (@MizFrizz) June 27, 2018
yeah I looked up my ratings once and it broke my heart.— Shalyndra (@shalyndra42) June 27, 2018
written evals were worse, maybe 90% comments on my body and clothes
The chili pepper is incredibly creepy and frankly, it makes the job of being taken seriously that much harder for women and young faculty, in my experiences. Please remove it, @ratemyprofessor. Outward appearances have NO bearing on teaching. #college #HigherEducation #academia https://t.co/iplG3Jbaea— Sarah Sheffield (@sarahlsheffield) June 26, 2018
Since seeing the Twitter takedown of their website, RateMyProfessor.com has responded to McLaughlin’s tweet, saying the chili pepper was “never meant to symbolize looks or appearance.”
However, other Twitter users called the website out for straight up lying, as they’ve published several posts where they “rank” professors from all universities by how hot they are. They also found older tweets from the company showing that they have said several times in the past that the chili pepper does represent how “physically attractive” a professor is.
Oh, for real?? ? pic.twitter.com/cAwCjpi6Wr— Benjamin Saunders (@BenSaunders) June 29, 2018
While it seems that the chili pepper is indeed a representation of how attractive professors are, the company claims they have “since removed” the chili pepper rating from the website altogether.
Good job, Twitter, that’s how you get things done.