Assignments

Response Papers/Presentations

For two class days you will serve, along with one or two other students, as a "responder." You will prepare a brief (one- to two-page, typewritten, double-spaced) analysis of a central issue or argument in that day's reading and how it relates to a gendered analysis of work (and policy, where relevant). In addition, you will prepare two questions for class discussion, based on that reading. While the instructor will assume the major responsibility for facilitating the class discussions, you will present your written analysis and your questions, and they will be used as part of the basis for class discussion. (Each paper/presentation accounts for 10% of your grade, or 20% total.)

One-page Reaction Papers

On the weeks that you are not the official "responder/presenter," you will bring a one-page "reaction paper" to class, which should be your thoughtful reaction to the week's readings. Please bring two copies, one for the instructor and the other for the "responders" of the week. The purpose of these reaction papers is to help you process what you have read, as well as facilitate the conversation. I will read your reaction papers and return them the following week. I will also ask the "responders" of the week to read their classmates' reaction papers and offer responses. These reaction papers will not be graded.

10-page Research/Policy Paper

This paper can be fun to write! You can work on this paper alone or in pairs; it's your choice. Choose from the following options (or suggest your own idea, which we can discuss):

  1. Select a workplace policy or benefit that potentially supports employees to balance their work and family responsibilities/needs. Critically review the research in this area. What have you learned from the findings of these studies? What are the strengths and limitations of these studies (e.g., their methods)? Where are the gaps in information about the policy/benefit? If you were to design a study, what else would you want to know about the policy/benefit? Possible examples of workplace policies/benefits are: employer-sponsored child care, union-initiated work-family policies/programs, flexible work arrangements (e.g., flextime, telecommuting, job sharing, part-time work), and parental leave policy.
  2. Examine workplace policies in another country that offer a contrast to the U.S. Critically review the research done on these issues, using a gender lens in your analysis. Compare and contrast with policies and practices in the United States. Identify some of the reasons why the two countries' policies are similar/different. Possible countries to explore include: Sweden, Germany, France, and the U.K.
  3. Research a piece of work-related legislation that is pending or has already passed. Describe the legislation, analyze it from a gender perspective. Describe the forces in favor and opposed to it, articulate their positions, and provide any insight regarding how their ideologies inform their stance on the legislation. Does the legislation go far enough? Does it go too far? Share your opinion about it. Finally, provide an analysis regarding the implications of this legislation.

    Examples of legislation you might select include: welfare legislation (e.g., Transition Assistance for Needy Families), parental leave legislation (e.g., Family and Medical Leave Act, Baby UI), child care legislation (e.g., ABC), etc.
  4. Select a controversial work-related issue (e.g., welfare reform, child care, parental leave, occupational health and safety). Identify 4 individuals you will interview who have strong opinions about this issue, including strategies for change. Make sure that your interviewees reflect a range of perspectives and social locations (e.g., legislators, advocates, consumers, government official). Design questions you will use to interview them; conduct the interviews (between 30-60 minutes per individual); analyze the findings (organize the findings by themes); and write a paper that pulls the material together. Your final paper will synthesize their views, as well as include your perspective on the issue, and what you have learned overall from this process. Some questions you might explore may include the following: What are their positions and in what venues do they express these opinions (e.g., legislature, media)? What rationale do they give for their opinions/beliefs? What activities have they taken to create change (e.g., legislative, public education)?

A paper prospectus is due on Week 6. This prospectus should describe what you plan to write about and a general outline of your paper. The prospectus will not be graded! It is simply an opportunity for you to get feedback from the instructor about your ideas. I will give you written commentary, offering you suggestions about how to proceed. You are welcome to make an appointment with me to discuss this paper as well.

A 10-page research/policy paper is due on Week 8. (This paper accounts for 40% of your grade.)

A selection of exemplary student work is included below. All work is courtesy of the student named and used with permission.

ASSIGNMENTS STUDENT RESPONSES
Weekly Reaction Papers Week 2 - Yamicia Connor (PDF)

Week 4 - Jad Karam (PDF)
Research/Policy Prospecti Jad Karam (PDF)
Research/Policy Papers Back To Basics: Elements and Dynamics of Gender-Related Policy-Making - Jad Karam (PDF)

Preferential Treatment Policies: A Perspective into Affirmative Action in India and the United States - Yamicia Connor (PDF)