Discrimination against Women in American Society
- Inquire of students what they see as the biggest gains for women in, say, the past 20 years. Encourage students to consider various categories, such as employment, politics, sports, and even the military. Write students’ responses on the board or on a flip chart for future reference. Another option to begin the session is to have the class as a whole respond to a series of true/false statements, e.g., “Currently more women attend college than men.” As students declare these statements true or false, discuss their responses and record the consensus for future reference.
- Have students investigate and gather information pertaining to men and women in the categories of employment, politics, and sports. The following reports and Web sites will provide students with a starting point:
“Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2001.” United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2002. <http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpswom2001.pdf>.
Dusharme, Dirk. “2002 Salary Survey: Are you getting what you’re worth?” Quality Digest, May 2002. <http://www.qualitydigest.com/pdfs/2002salsurvey.pdf>.
Center for American Women and Politics. Eagleton Institute for Politics. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. <http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~cawp/>.
National Organization for Women. <http://www.now.org/>.
Gender Equity in Sports. <http://bailiwick.lib.uiowa.edu/ge/>.
- Have students do research in all categories, or assign different categories to groups of students. As students research their topic(s), have them look for data that show change over time, and challenge students to make comparisons over a course of years. You may choose to have students create a database using the information they discover. Below are some examples of questions to use for information gathering:
• How has the number of women senators changed in the past five years? Are these women mostly Democrats or Republicans?
• How much does a man earn in a particular occupation (choose one) as compared to a woman? Has the gender gap increased or decreased in relation to pay? Does it vary according to occupation? Does it vary according to educational level?
• How many women participate in college sports? How has Title IX impacted college sports?
- In addition to examining statistics, students could speak to people in the community to find out about issues such as gender equity in employment, the goal being to gain a sense of how the data reflect the actual human experience.
- After students have completed their research, have them share their findings with the class. Refer back to the initial discussion before the research. Did the students’ research validate their answers, or prove them incorrect?