These guides provide pointers for getting the most out of Learning Activities in each chapter of the book.
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: Bodies
- Chapter 3: Families
- Chapter 4: Education
- Chapter 5: Work
- Chapter 6: Health and Illness
- Chapter 7: Media
- Chapter 8: Politics
- Chapter 9: Interpersonal Violence
- Chapter 10: Integrating Feminist Sociological Insights
Learning Activity 1.1 Observing Gender
We recommend you pick one or two behaviors for your focus. Choosing one or two to observe will help you be systematic in your observations and note-taking. Once you choose the behavior, follow the guidelines on page 14.
Learning Activity 2.1 Thinking About Your Body
This Learning Activity asks you to think about the bodily pressures you face in your life as a result of cultural ideals. The first step is to determine the cultural ideals for people of your gender. Cultural ideals about bodies include messages about body size, weight, shape, musculature, facial and body hair, aroma, and skin tone and color. One way cultural ideals are expressed is through media imagery, such as the messages about bodies portrayed in magazines, films, and television. Cultural ideals are also expressed in people’s social networks, including families and peers. Once you identify the cultural ideals, the Learning Activity asks you to think about how your body compares to these ideals. The next step is for you to think about someone you know who devotes particular time and energy into creating a womanly or manly body, identifying what they do to create that gendered body. Some examples of activities that they may participate in include shaving, applying makeup, exercising, eating habits/choices, selecting particular fashion styles and accessories, visiting doctors/surgeons, or taking steroids or other medications that influence body shape/size. The final step in this activity is to think about how your own daily routine would change if there were no cultural concerns about your body being womanly or manly enough.
Learning Activity 2.2 Gender in History
This activity asks you to explore gender in a different historical period from your own. One strategy to do this is to select a country and conduct an Internet search for relevant eras for that country (e.g., search for "Mexico" and "era" and "gender"). You can also conduct a similar search in academic databases. The results from this search should help you narrow your focus to make the activity more manageable. After you locate an article that explores gender relations in that location and era, you will need to read the article with an eye toward the view of bodies implied by the conventions of the time. To simplify your work, try to focus on only one or two gender expectations rather than an exhaustive list. Once you identify the historical conventions, the assignment asks you to compare them to the expectations that you currently face.
Learning Activity 2.3 Assess the Implementation of the Intersex Society of North America Recommendations
This activity asks you to familiarize yourself with the recommendations of the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) and interview someone to whom the policy recommendations are relevant. The main challenge here is finding someone to interview. You may want to begin with someone you know who works in some aspect of the health care industry, including perhaps your own physician. An interview with someone need not be done face-to-face: it could be via telephone or even email. Another option is to work as a class—including your instructor—to bring in a guest speaker to discuss intersexuality and the recommendations of the ISNA. You might also be able to find a relevant website that puts you in contact with someone who could participate in an interview with you. Once you find someone to interview, you will need to assess that person’s familiarity with the recommendations of the ISNA as well as the likelihood that they implement the recommendations. On this latter issue, it might be useful to ask them if they would face particular challenges if they attempted to implement the recommendations. What would have to change for them to adopt the recommendations in their work?
Learning Activity 2.4 Creating Gendered Bodies
This activity asks you to evaluate an organization in terms of its social construction of bodies. In order to determine their targeted clientele, look at the photos on the organization’s website and in their other promotional materials (e.g., brochures, handouts, etc.). Are specific groups of people portrayed in terms of gender, race, class, age, (dis)ability, etc? In order to determine if women’s and men’s bodies are treated similarly or differently, see if there are separate programs/products for women and men and if the gender variations—to the extent that they exist—reinforce or challenge the current gender system (e.g., Do the programs targeting women promote women’s beauty and objectification? Do programs targeting women promote health and well-being? How is well-being defined?). We recommend that you look at what is explicitly stated in the materials, but also try to "read between the lines," using your feminist sociological imagination to determine what types of messages are being conveyed.
Learning Activity 3.1 A Family Holiday and Gender
Analyzing activities that are familiar to you can be challenging because we, as humans, are like fish in water when it comes to our cultural practices and rituals. In order to successfully complete this assignment, you cannot take anything for granted. We recommend thinking through the family holiday or event chronologically, from planning to preparation to the holiday/event itself to cleanup. The goal of the assignment is to make visible all of the work that goes into producing the holiday or event and to assess the extent to which gender informs who does that work. There are often very specific but unwritten gender rules that govern who does what with regard to holidays and special events. There are also interesting variations across families. If you are uncertain about what goes into a holiday or event, you could speak to whomever puts the event together to get details about how they decide to divide the labor.
Learning Activity 3.2 How Does Advertising Construct Gendered Families?
Advertisements are purposeful in the messages they wish to convey. You may want to look at different magazines, websites, and/or newspapers to get a breadth of choices in advertisements, since different advertisements are geared to target different audiences, depending on the media outlet.
Learning Activity 3.3 Putting Gender Equality and Justice into Practice
This exercise has you implement the SHARE guide on page 88. The instructions are quite straightforward; be sure to follow them in order to ensure successful completion of the assignment. As you implement the guidelines, it might be worth taking notes on a daily basis about the process in order to make writing your final essay easier.
Learning Activity 3.4 Analyzing Research on Gender and Families
The format of the Council on Contemporary Families website may change over time, but the organization is consistent in that it posts the Unconventional Wisdom publication on its website. It’s important that you download the entire report—not just the brief summaries. The full report is typically available in PDF format. If you have trouble locating the Unconventional Wisdom report, seek assistance from your instructor. Once you have located a copy of Unconventional Wisdom, select one of the research projects in the report and follow the instructions on page 97. It is important that when working through the assignment you infuse your analysis with concepts and ideas from Chapter 3.
Learning Activity 4.1 Gender and Your Education Experience
For your vignette, include reference to whether you attended private or public school or were home schooled. Address whether it was single gender or mixed gender, including transgender; to what extent it was single race or mixed race, inclusive of students on a continuum of ability/disability, from similar or different income levels, and from a spectrum of sexual identities (e.g. heterosexual, LGBTQ) . To place your experience within a broader context, identify the years you attended each level of schooling, including college. Also, identify your gender, social class, race, and ability/disability and then return to the chapter introduction to help you place your experience in a sociohistorical context.
Learning Activity 4.2 Is that feminist education?
To find a peer-reviewed article on education, go to your college or university library or library website to access an academic database, such as Sociological Abstracts. Do a search for key words, such as gender and education. It might be useful to specify your search by adding a social location (e.g. race, class, disability) or a topic (e.g. chilly climate, grades, pedagogy, homophobia). Once you find a peer-reviewed article, follow the instructions in Learning Activity 4.2.
Learning Activity 4.3 Analyzing a Gender Trend in Education
For a statement about gender and education, you could use the focal point question "are schools failing boys?" or select another question (e.g. is abstinence-only education effective?). Use the textbook or an external source to determine for what time period this question is relevant (e.g. when was abstinence-only education first promoted on a national level). To find a relevant and reputable data source, go to your college or university library or library website. Data sources might be academic, governmental, or international. Once you find a data source, follow the instructions in Learning Activity 4.3, using the focal point as a model for how to organize analysis and discussion.
Learning Activity 4.4. Local Activism in Education
To identify a local organization which focuses on education, you can ask someone, read the student or local newspaper, or do an internet search. If a campus or city organization is not immediately available, expand your search to the state or region. Ideally, the organization will have a website or Facebook page which you can use to answer the questions or you could visit or contact the organization for information. Once you identify the organization, follow the instructions in Learning Activity 4.4.
Learning Activity 5.1 Gender and Your Work Experience
For your vignette, you may have to retrieve information that you have forgotten. You could do on-line research to gather information about the job you currently or once held or check in with family members or friends about what they remember about the job. See if you can find information about the gender distribution (at the national or state level) of the job you held and reflect on whether or not that fits with your memory of the work in your specific workplace. A good source for U.S. national-level data is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/). The Bureau of Labor Statistics also lists sources of data for other national and state labor data: http://www.bls.gov/bls/other.htm. Comparing your experiences to Thompson’s is one way to try to identify things that have changed over time. Make a list of three or four things she identifies as being gendered in her workplace and then reflect on how similar or different your work experiences were from hers.
Learning Activity 5.2 How is Work Defined in the News?
Look for a news article that is about something related to work. You will be more likely to glean a definition of work from an article that is about an economic pattern—layoffs, hiring, companies moving to another location in the US or elsewhere. Once you find an article, follow the instructions in the assignment.
Learning Activity 5.3 Analyzing a Workplace IssueIn the assignment, we have suggested story themes that we have heard about gender and work. If you have not heard anyone tell such a story, look online to see if you can find a related story. You could also ask family and friends for their ideas. Once you have identified an issue, follow the guidelines of the assignment. You can also use the approach we took to the focal point as a way to get started.
Learning Activity 5.4. Evaluating a Workplace Issue
Use local or internet resources to help you find an organization that addresses an issue suggested in the assignment or an issue that you have thought about. Use the criteria for decent work in the section on What Does Occupational Gender Segregation Tell us About Gender and Work? to help you evaluate the organization.
Learning Activity 6.1 Your Experience with a Physician
In choosing an experience you have had with a physician, we recommend choosing an experience that you are comfortable sharing with other students in your class. After you have selected the experience you are willing to share, follow the instructions on page 170.
Learning Activity 6.2 Investigate Your Birth
The instructions for this activity are quite straightforward, providing you with a list of questions that you will ask your (or a friend’s) birthmother, or if you are a parent, your child’s birth experience. Note that although answering all of the questions is necessary for the activity, it is equally important that in your write-up, you provide an analysis of the birth in terms of the degree to which was in keeping with a medicalized pregnancy and birthing process, a feminist approach, cultural traditions, or some mix of these. Be sure to support your analysis with specific examples.
Learning Activity 6.3 Analyzing Gender and a Health Issue
There are at least two ways to begin this activity. You could begin by selecting a health issue that is of interest to you and then seek out data to meet the assignment requirements (data are to include information on gender and at least one other dimension of social inequality). Alternatively, you could begin by searching for data sources and then, based on the availability of "good" data, select your health issue from among the options available. There are good sources of data available online, and we have cited some of them within the chapter and in the "Links" section of the textbook website materials, but we recommend making use of your school’s library resources, especially librarians, to locate reputable statistics on the health issue. Once you find your data, follow the instructions on page 193. Remember, your task is to explain the data from a feminist sociological perspective.
Learning Activity 6.4 Analyzing a Research Article about Gender and Health
To find a peer-reviewed article on gender and health, go to your college or university library or library website to access an academic database, such as Sociological Abstracts. Do a search for key words, such as gender and health. It might be useful to specify your search by adding a social location (e.g. race, class, disability) and/or a specific health topic (e.g. obesity, breast cancer, heart disease, maternal health). Once you find a peer-reviewed article, follow the instructions in on page 199.
Learning Activity 7.1 Your Experience of the Media
For this assignment, you have unlimited choices. Select something meaningful to you that you would be willing to share with the class. In terms of thinking about how gender might be associated with the representation, start with explicit references—is gender obvious? If it is not obvious, then take a step back and reflect on whether the example you have chosen appeals to all genders? Could it be applied to all genders?
Learning Activity 7.2 Gendered Images in Advertising
Although you are limited to print advertising and need to find an ad with more than one gender, you can use a newspaper, magazine, flyer, or any other form of print advertisement. Magazines are probably the best source because they include so many advertisements. You can try to find an ad that challenges gender difference and inequality, one that reinforces it, or one that offers a complex picture of gender equality and inequality. Once you find an ad, follow the instructions in the assignment on page 210.
Learning Activity 7.3 Gender in Film
To make it easier to do this assignment, select a film to watch with the criteria in mind or choose a film that you have seen recently enough you can recall enough details to answer the questions on page 221.
Learning Activity 7.4 Research on Gender in the Media
By now you are familiar with the format of the Research Examples, so the challenge for this assignment will be to find an article that interests you and is about gender in the media. To find a peer-reviewed article on gender in the media, go to your college or university library or library website to access an academic database, such as Sociological Abstracts. Do a search for key words, such as gender advertisements, gender in music videos, or gender on television. Once you find an article follow the instructions for the assignment on page 228.
Learning Activity 8.1 Gender and Your Political Experience
When analyzing gender and your political experience, think about how gender gets produced by creating a sense of difference between women and men and then organizing inequalities around that presumed difference. In your reflection, be sure to provide specific details from your experience and explain how and why those details reinforce or challenge gendered patterns/ideas.
Learning Activity 8.2 Gender and Political Cartoons
You can find political cartoons on the Internet. Although there are many sources for political cartoon—such as any major or local newspapers website—there is an online resource for political cartoons at www.politicalcartoons.com. Ideally, you should include a copy of the political cartoon with any written or verbal analysis you produce for this activity. When you provide your analysis, make sure to very clearly describe what is portrayed in the cartoon and provide details to support your analytical claims.
Learning Activity 8.3 Local Gender Activism
You can locate a local organization using the Internet or through asking people in your local area. We recommend calling the organization and speaking with a staff member or volunteer about the types of work the organization does. So as not to overload one organization with more than one phone call, your instructor may have class members compare notes on what organization each person plans to contact. To get at issues of intersectionality, you can try to ascertain the extent to which the organization deals with people from diverse gender, racial/ethnic, sexual, national, (dis)ability, age, or class backgrounds. Asking the organizational representative who their "typical client" is should put you on the right track for further questions. You might also ask what someone would need to do if s/he wanted to get involved in the organization’s work.
Learning Activity 8.4 Gender and Politics on Campus
The most challenging aspect of this assignment is locating statistics about your school’s student body. Typically, schools have a website or some resource that provides data about the student body. If you cannot find data, ask your instructor for assistance. Once you locate your data, follow the instructions on p. 261.
Learning Activity 9.1 Thinking about Violence in Your Life
Making a list of how your life has been touched by violence may be unsettling, uncomfortable, or scary. Since the assignment asks for just one example to reflect upon, we recommend you pick an example that you have processed, talked about, and are comfortable sharing with classmates or your instructor. Once you think of an example draw upon all you have read in this textbook to help you think about gender and intersectionality.
Learning Activity 9.2 Investigating Definitions of Violence
We recommend you pick a type of violence that we have not discussed in any depth in the textbook. Use databases in your campus library to help you find a peer-reviewed article. Once you find an article, follow the guidelines for the assignment on page 276.
Learning Activity 9.3 Investigating a Story of Violence
Unfortunately the news is filled with stories of violence, however, this should make it relatively easy to find a story of violence that you can analyze for the class. Use print or electronic news resources. You might want to use key words to search for violence and gender in databases for international, national, or local news outlets. Once you find an article, follow the instructions on page 288.
Learning Activity 9.4 Investigating Gender and Violence
By now you are familiar with the format of the Research Examples, so the challenge for this assignment will be to find a scholarly article that interests you and is about gender and violence. This assignment differs from Learning Activity 9.3 where the focus is on a news story; in this assignment the focus is on a scholarly article. If you were also assigned Learning Activity 9.2, you could use the same scholarly article. If you were not assigned Learning Activity 9.3, go to your college or university library or library website to access an academic database, such as Sociological Abstracts. Do a search for key words, such as violence, gender, and race; gender and gang violence; gender and teen violence. Once you find an article follow the instructions for the assignment on page 295.
Learning Activity 10.1 Investigating Gender
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this activity is finding the gender and racial composition information needed on a particular institution. There are two ways to approach this activity. You could begin by selecting an institution that is of interest to you and then seek out data to meet the activity requirements (data are to include information on gender and, ideally, at least one other dimension of social inequality). Alternatively, you could begin by searching for data sources and then, based on the availability of "good" data, select the institution from among the options available. There are good sources of data available online for some institutions, but we recommend making use of your school’s library resources, especially librarians, to locate reputable statistics. Once you find your data, follow the instructions on page 303. Remember, your task is to explain the data from a feminist sociological perspective. As an example, we recommend revisiting the focal point in Chapter 5 Work, which investigates labor market segregation.
Learning Activity 10.2 Putting it All Together
To complete this activity, we recommend using peer-reviewed sociological articles on the topic. To find peer-reviewed articles, go to your college or university library or library website to access an academic database, such as Sociological Abstracts. Do a search for key words, such as gender and whichever topic you’ve chosen. It might be useful to specify your search as much as possible by adding a social location (e.g. race, class, disability) and/or some other aspect of the topic, including its relation to specific social institutions (e.g. families, work, media, etc.). Once you find a few peer-reviewed articles, follow the instructions on p. 309. Note that you can use the Focal Point section of chapters 2-9 as examples for the type of analysis you are attempting to produce, although your analysis will likely be much briefer.