WGS.150 | Spring 2015 | Undergraduate

Gender, Power, Leadership and the Workplace


Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Overview

Women have made significant progress over the course of history in achieving greater equity in the domestic sphere and in the workplace, but they still earn less on average than men and are underrepresented in multiple industries and senior positions. What is holding women back from more progress? How would we all benefit from a more gender-equitable society? This course will provide students with an analytic framework to understand the mechanisms that generate gaps in gender equality in positions of power and leadership, and explore interventions to close these gaps. In particular, we will study:

  • The consequences of gender inequality for companies and for economic performance.
  • The current landscape of female participation in different sectors in the U.S., paying special attention to leadership positions within the corporate, academic, political and non-profit sectors.
  • The root causes of gender inequality in positions of power, leadership and the workplace.
  • Interventions and policies that address the structural barriers that contribute to create a gender gap such as affirmative action, parental leave, and child-care policies.
  • The role of bias and stereotypes in preventing gender diversity and what can be done to manage these effects.


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Class Deliverables and Grade Composition

Class participation 20
Presentation of the status of women in a selected industry & 1-page summary of presentation 15
2–5 slides in preparation for class debate on Affirmative Action 15
5 page book reflection on Blindspot 10
5 page book reflection on Lean In 10
Final 8–10 page paper exploring a strategy for change 15
In-class presentation of final paper 15

See Assignments section

Definition of Grades

  1. Exceptionally good performance, demonstrating a superior understanding of the subject matter, a foundation of extensive knowledge, and a skillful use of concepts and / or materials.
  2. Good performance, demonstrating capacity to use the appropriate concepts, a good understanding of the subject matter, and an ability to handle the problems and materials encountered in the subject.
  3. Adequate performance, demonstrating an adequate understanding of the subject matter, an ability to handle relatively simple problems, and adequate preparation for moving on to more advanced work in the field.
  4. Minimally acceptable performance, demonstrating at least partial familiarity with the subject matter and some capacity to deal with relatively simple problems, but also demonstrating deficiencies serious enough to make it inadvisable to proceed further in the field without additional work.

Required Texts

Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Knopf, 2013. ISBN: 9780385349949. 

Banaji, Mahzarin, and Anthony Greenwald. Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People. Delacorte Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780553804645.

Mnookin, Robert H., Scott R. Peppet, and Andrew S. Tulumello. Beyond Winning: Negotiating to Create Value in Deals and Disputes. Belknap Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780674012318. [Preview with [Google Books](http://books.google.com/books?id=CmYIBAAAQBAJ&pg=PAfrontcover)]

Stone, Douglas, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen. Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. Penguin Books, 2010. ISBN: 9780143118442. [Preview with Google Books]

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2015
Learning Resource Types
Presentation Assignments
Written Assignments