Attractive female students got lower grades during remote learning: study

A girl in a class

New research suggests that attractive female college students accustomed to earning high grades in person aren’t making the same marks during remote learning.

A Swedish study, published in the journal Economics Letters, probed the impact of a student’s looks on their performance, both in the classroom and online. Findings showed that to some extent, physical appearance played a part, PsyPost reported.

“The main takeaway is that there is a beauty premium, both for males and for females, when teaching is on-site,” said Adrian Mehic, graduate student at Sweden’s Lund University and author of the study.

But remove the up close and personal setting, Mehic said, and suddenly, the comeliest female co-eds no longer thrived.

Data was pulled from five separate groups of engineering students in Sweden, rated on their attractiveness by an independent group of 74 graders.

The better their looks, the higher their grades for some in-person courses such as business and economics, according to the study. Courses like math and physics — where scoring is based more on tests than projects, speaking and reports — did not see the connection.

But when the courses were taught online, the grades of attractive females dropped. Attractive male students — who, according to PsyPost, “tend to be more persistent and have a greater influence on their peers” — suffered no such setback.

“This, at least to me, suggests that the beauty premium for males is due to some productive attribute (for instance, them having higher self-confidence) rather than discrimination, whereas it is due to discrimination for women,” said Mehic, who was “surprised” to see the male students continue to excel.

He admits that there are many questions left to be answered on the subject.

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