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Women, Gender and Society

Peck Hall 0307

Women, Gender and Society
Soc/WMST 308 Summer 2010  

            Website address:
            e-mail address:
Dr. Linda Markowitz

Office:  Peck Bldg.  rm.  1220
Office number:  650-2451
Office Hours: 1:00-1:45 M-Th and by appt.

Course Description and Objectives:
This course examines the concept, gender, from the sociological perspective.  Thus we will be looking at the social causes and consequences of breaking gender into rigid dichotomies.  We will focus on how society's organization results in different treatment for women and men and how this different treatment often times benefits men at the expense of women.  Society's structure imposes different rules, regulations and benefits on men and women, yet two social facts become obvious:  1) Not all men and women interpret their relationship with the social structure similarly.  This means that gender is not a dichotomous variable in which all men are the same and all women are the same.  2) Gender is not the only social category in which society is organized.  Society is also organized by race and class which, along with gender, help to determine the rules, regulations and benefits imposed on people.  Thus, our main objectives are twofold.  First, we will analyze the ramifications society's organization has for men and women.  Second, we will expose how problematic it is to assume that all men and all women are alike.

Statement of Professionalism
My working assumption is that students are in interested in learning.    As such, students are required to take responsibility for their education.  If you miss class, fail to do an assignment or misunderstand an assignment, please determine for yourself how to complete the work.  This means read the syllabus before you ask me any questions; get notes from a classmate and manage your time to ensure you understand and complete all assignments adequately.  

My role as professor is to help you evaluate and critically examine information and logic. To complete my job, students must come prepared for class.  Preparation entails taking effort to read and think about the material outside of class.  Often times we may not cover everything from the text, but I will still expect students to consider the information from the books and ask questions when they are interested in a topic we did not discuss.  

Plagiarism — If you plagiarize on any of the papers, you will receive no points for the assignment in question.  Furthermore, I may pursue further action depending on the egregiousness of the case.  If you have any questions about plagiarism, please look at my website.  If you still do not understand, ask me.  I don’t mind entertaining any questions!


Course Readings:

Thinking about Women: Sociological Perspectives on Sex and Gender by Margaret Anderson.  2003, Sixth Edition, Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Readings that will be posted on Blackboard.


Course Requirements:

1) Tests/Quizzes    

A) There will be two tests which will consist of multiple choice (mc) and short essay. Each test will be worth 20% of your grade.   (Total 40%)

Tests will cover information from the book and lecture.  Often times, I do not cover information from the book in class, but you are still expected to have read and be familiar with the topics we do not cover.  Further, I expect students to do more than memorize the information, you should be able to apply terms, theories and concepts.

Failure to take tests ---  Anyone who does not contact me in person or by phone (thus leaving a message for me in the department will not do) about missing the test before the day of the scheduled test will not be able to do a make-up, and will receive a 0 for the grade. 

B) There will also be four quizzes.  The quizzes will ALWAYS occur at the beginning of class and cover material over the readings due for that day.   If you are tardy and miss the quiz, you cannot make up the quiz.  You can drop your lowest grade.  The three remaining quizzes are worth 3% each. (Total 9%).



2) Papers

Each paper also requires a bibliography. I don’t care what the format is as long as I can find the source to see if you are completing the assignment correctly.

    1. There will be three short written- assignments that require at least 700 words of writing.   Descriptions of the assignments appear below and the due dates are found within the Course Schedule.  Each paper will be worth 8% of your grade or 24% total
    1. This paper will be both fun and scholarly.  Description is below, but the paper must be 1400 words.  This paper will be worth 15% of your grade.
  3.  APPLICATION DAYS— On Application Days, we will have discussions that require your full participation.   The application days appear in your syllabus packet.  After the discussion, each person or one person elected from the group will summarize and turn in the typed summary the next class period.   If you are handing in one paper for the group, do not forget to write each group member’s name on the paper.


Each Application Day is worth 3% of your grade with a total of 12%

Each summary should be double-spaced and at least 500 words.  EMAIL THE PAPERS TO: Remember to showcase your sociological application.  If the summary does not include sociological analysis, your grade will be docked. 
If you are absent for one Application Day, add two pages to the assignment and deduct 20 points from your grade.  


Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty, which includes plagiarism, copying, or helping others cheat will be treated with the standard penalty, an E for the course.


Reading Schedule: All reading should be done before class day
 All “chapters” refer to Anderson Book

Date                Discussion                              Reading                                   Assignment Due
June 28             False Dichotomies                     None


June 29             Intro                                         Chapter 1                                  Application Day 1


June 30             Social Construction                    Chapter 2:

Of Gender Identity                                 


July 1                Cont.                                        Blackboard:                               Application Day 2
                                                                        Master’s Tools                          Paper 1 Due

July 6th              Identity Movie:                                                                                                                                      Middlesexes

July 7                Guest Speaker:                          Blackboard
                        Dr. Traice Webb                       “Fraternities and Rape”             Quiz 1


July 8:               Women and Social Reform:       Chapter 12                                Paper 2 Due
                        Liberal Feminism
July 12              Contemporary Frameworks     Chapter 13

in Feminist Theory


July 13              Continued                                 BLACKBOARD:                     Application Day 3
                                                                        “From Service to Servitude”       Quiz 2

July 14th            Sexuality &                               Chapter 4:                                

                        Intimate Relationships               

July 15th: FIRST TEST



Date                Discussion                              Reading                                   Assignment Due

July 19th            Gender and the Culture:             Chapter 3  &                            

The Social Construction             Blackboard

                        of Knowledge                                       “Gender Stereotyping”

July 20              MOVIES:  Still Killing Us Softly and DreamWorlds 3     

July 21              Gender and Health                    Chapter 7                                 Paper 3 Due

July 22              Continuation                              Blackboard                             Application Day 4
                                                                        “Colonizing the Woman’s”         Quiz 3
July 26              Women, Power and Politics       Chapter 11Cont                                                                                                                                     BLACKBOARD:
                                                                        “War and Rape”


July 27              Gender, Work, Economy            Chapter 5


July 28              Cont.                                        Blackboard                             Paper 4 DUE
                                                                        “Moving up”                            Quiz 4              
July 29:             TEST 2: YIPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE                                     

Paper Guidelines and Descriptions:
ALL WRITTEN WORK WILL BE EMAILED TO ME:  I will not accept any hard copies. Save the file in the following way:  First Name Last Name and Name of Paper:  

Example:  Naomi Klein Participation Paper

Please, feel free to email drafts of your paper prior to submitting it for a grade.  The learning process is greatly aided with feedback! However, in order to ensure I have time to read the draft, you must submit it to me at least 48 working hours BEFORE the paper is due.  


NOTE:  All homework assignments require that you read the material (be it textbook or articles) and that you think critically about the information.  When applying sociological concepts, you MUST cite any definition you provide from the readings.  Do not cite dictionaries or glossaries. After defining concepts, you  must apply the concept to whatever assignment is before you and provide evidence that your application is correct..  Each paragraph should define, apply and provide evidence for ONE concept!

If you do not know the difference between citations versus quoting versus plagiarizing, look at my website. “You didn’t tell me” is not an excuse.  My assumption is that you are trying to learn, understand and apply the material.  To that end, I cannot possibly guess all the different shortcuts you might take to avoid learning, understanding or applying.  Please understand, however, that your grade will reflect my perception that you are using shortcuts rather than thinking deeply about the papers.

1) DO NOT USE QUOTES and DO NOT PLAGIARIZE:  Each paper has a word minimum.  Any quotes that you use a) will be deducted from the number of words required (and hence points will be subtracted if the paper is not long enough) and b) will cause minus 2 points from the final grade for each sentence of the quote.  So, if you have a three sentence quote, subtract 6 points from your final grade.  If you plagiarize, you will receive a 0 on the paper at the very least (see section on plagiarism)




3) Each paper also requires a bibliography. I don’t care what the format is as long as I can find the source to see if you are completing the assignment correctly.

4) All papers must be double-spaced.

SHORT PAPER ONE:  Applying Analysis Rather than Morality
1) Provide one moral proposition that you hold about gender (it can not be about abortion, given that we did that in class).  It could be anything from: women shouldn’t work to women and men should be treated equally.  Explain your moral belief for NO MORE THAN 200 words.  Now, for the remaining 500 words,  sociologically explain from where your belief comes  (for example, what experiences in your life have shaped your beliefs).  DO NOT USE PSYCHOLOGY OR RELIGION TO EXPLAIN YOUR BELIEF.   Thus, do not say that your belief comes from God or from low self‑esteem or because you rose above your circumstances.  Rather, look at the time period in which you grew up, the religious teachings you were surrounded by,  your parents beliefs, school teachings.
Be Careful: Common mistakes: 1) people only discuss their moral belief, ie. People only discuss how they believe in equality and they don’t know how since they were never taught men and women should be equal. 2) People only use their parents and their own personal experience to explain where their beliefs came from.  You must provide social contexts for your beliefs.  3) People claim that even though their parents and society taught them one thing, they hold exactly opposite beliefs.  If you are different from how your parents intended, what allowed you to become different?

SHORT PAPER TWO:  How does Gender Identity in the US Affect Workers in Other Countries.

Read at least 2 newspapers/news magazine articles about one of the following industries:  Chocolate, Diamonds, or Flowers.   ATTACH THE ARTICLES TO YOUR PAPER.  Do NOT use any trade magazines (articles written by members of the industry about which you are writing).

In this country, women like to be pampered by receiving some of the above gifts.  Discover the following: 1) Find out how work in the industry is organized at every stage of production, but especially the raw production stage. Who are more likely to be workers in this industry: gender, age, nationality, etc.  2) How are workers treated in this industry?   3) Which companies in the U.S support this industry and the way workers are treated?  4) How are the governments, in the countries where the industries exist, responsible for the conditions of workers?   5) Most importantly, How does gender in the United States contribute to the industries?  Make sure to cite the source from where you attained information and attach the article to your paper.

After you take notes about the above topics, write a paper in essay form that addresses the topic of the paper:  How Does Gender Identity in the US Affect Workers in Other Countries?

SHORT PAPER THREE: Deconstructing Popular Culture

Deconstruct your favorite television show or movie.  To do this assignment, you must watch your favorite show/movie again!  While you are watching, take notes about the following topics:

  1. Who are the main characters?
  2. Are they male/ female
  3. What occupations doe the characters have? How do their occupations relate to their gender? 
  4. What social roles are prominent or emphasized for each character?  Mother, father, sister, brother, friends?  Are these roles consistent with character’s gender? If the character is female, for example, are their actions as a mother stereotypical or astereotypical?
  5. How do males and females interact?  Who has more power? 
  6. How is conflict presented?
  7. Are men and women presented as “opposites?”
  8. How is the sexuality of the characters presented?  Are women presented as heterosexual?  Do heterosexual women define themselves for the male gaze?  How are gay men presented?
  9. Is race/ethnicity considered important for the characters?  If race/ethnicity is ignored, why?


NOW, take your notes and write an analytical, essay paper about the television program that incorporates the evidence you collected while watching!

LONG PAPER:  Gender Atypical Act

Do something gender atypical (meaning something that you are NOT supposed to do given that you are a woman or man).  For men, this could be wearing a dress outdoors, wearing make-up, shaving legs or arms before swimming, wearing hair in barrets,  being emotional, etc.  For women this could be, not shaving, not doing hair or wearing make-up, opening doors for men, tell your lover that you have decided to keep your last name and give your children your name, not doing housework).   Whatever you decide, the act MUST be something  that society says you should not be doing if you are a man or something that society says you should not be doing  if you are a woman..    Now, engage in this non-gendered activity in public.  (Don’t choose anything that may harm yourself or any other person).   Be Careful: Common Mistakes: 1) People talk about breaking a norm, but did not actually do so.  2) People fail to analyze their own feelings about the difficulty in breaking the norm.

ESSAY Outline:
1) Introduction
2) Heading 1:  My Experiences (400 words)
                        In this section you will, in essay form, write about your experiences.  How did you feel?  How did other people treat you?  Were you looked at funny?  Did anyone say anything to you?  Be very reflective about your experiences.
3)Heading 2:  Gender Identity Theory (400 words)
                        In this section, I want you to use one of the theories we discussed about gender identity to make sense of your experiences.  Look up one scholarly article for this section which defines and applies the theory.  Cite this article when you discuss and explain the theory you have chosen.  You will first explain the theory in your own words.    Next, you will use the theory to explain such things as:  Why you chose the behavior you chose, why you chose to enact the behavior where you did, Why you told people what you were doing or why you hid from people what you did.  The intent of this section if for you to ANALYTICALLY understand your gender behaviors.
4) Heading 3: Feminist Theory (400 words)
                        In this section, I want you to use one of the feminist theories described in chapters 12 and 13 to understand the ramifications of people who conform to gender dichotomies.  Again, read a scholarly article about the theory you have chosen and then reflect on how gender conformity perpetuates gender oppression.
5) Conclusion
6) References




Application Day:   Morality Versus Analysis

MAJOR POINT:  Reduce your moral understanding of the world and convey to the professor that you understand how to analyze (socially understand) why you have the moral position of abortion.  Analysis should appear 4 times as much as any discussion of your moral position in the final paper.

1) Take a moment to reflect on all your moral positions about abortion.  Write these moral beliefs here.






2) STOP!  No, more moralizing.  I want you to think of what social factors contributes to WHY you have your moral beliefs.

Remember, the goal is not to convince me of your moral position by using facts or experiences.  Rather, you are trying to be self-reflective.  What about my social position has led me to the conclusion about abortion.


Provide at least FIVE different social characteristics that has led to your moral belief and explain them in detail.

Application Day:  What you Know vs. What you Think you Know:

Major Point:   Use sociological theories discussed in class to make sense of the social queues we use to discover someone’s gender identity.  Further, to uncover what social factors explain how make sense of these social queues.  

 Look at the photo on the screen

  1. As a group, write everything you know as fact. 





  1. Now,  I want you to think about what you think you know.  Given the genders of the kids, what do they like to do?  What colors are their bedrooms?  Who cries more?  What television shows do they like?  Tell me what social cues you used to help you create these stories?







  1. How may these stories shape the gender identities of the children in the photo?




  1. How may these stories shape your own gender identities?



  1. Which theories help you understand your stories?  Apply at least 2.







Application Day: Applying theory to the issue of welfare,

Major Point:  To adeptly apply at least one theory and how it would explain the existence of social welfare.

What would liberal feminist theory say about WHY welfare exists.




Marxist and socialist feminist theories?





Radical feminist theory?





Multi-Cultural Feminist Theory?





Post-Structural Feminist Theory?


Application Day: The pursuit of Beauty

Major Point: Use Morgan’s three paradoxes to understand why your pursue beauty.


1) Start off thinking about all the things you do for BEAUTY (not health).  Write all the things you all do down.




2) How much do the products you use to pursue beauty cost you per year?





3)  Morgan argues that three paradoxes exist among women who pursue plastic surgery.  How true are these paradoxes for the beauty you pursue each day?

A) Choice of Conformity – explain what it is and how your beauty pursuits are affected by this paradox.




B) Liberation into Colonization –  explain what it is and how your beauty pursuits are affected by this paradox.




C) Coerced voluntariness and the technological imperative —  explain what it is and how your beauty pursuits are affected by this paradox.





Plagiarism and Misuse of Quotes

The purpose of the senior assignment is to measure students’ abilities at applying sociological analysis to original projects.

In order to do so, students must avoid plagiarism and misuse of quotes.   Both plagiarism and misuse of quotes occur when students are reluctant to think about the meaning of the material they are reading.  Rather, to finish quickly, they simply use the words of someone else.

Plagiarism --Plagiarism is defined by the University Handbook as, “the act of representing the work of another as one’s own and may consist of copying, paraphrasing, or otherwise using written or oral work of another without proper acknowledgment of the source or presenting oral or written material prepared by another as one’s own”(p. 220).

The University, as well as the Department of Sociology, takes plagiarism seriously.  The minimum punishment of this offense is failure of the assignment or class. However, students could also get discharged from the University without the potential to graduate.

There are three types of plagiarism that I will now discuss in more detail.

A) Plagiarism exists if a student uses a passage from the author of a published/unpublished document and does not give her credit for writing the passage.

Here is an example:

Russell Schutt of Investigating the Social World defines a survey as, “Research in which information is obtained from a sample of individuals through their responses to questions about themselves or others” (p. 592: 1996).

A student would be plagiarizing if they did either of the following in a paper:

1.    According to Russell Schutt a survey is research in which information is obtained from a sample (p. 592).  I did a survey on University Faculty in 1999.  I asked the faculty whether they use the Vadalebene Center............

This is plagiarism because the student did not put quotes around the passage that was used in her paper.

2.         According to Russell Schutt a survey is research in which data are acquired from a sample.   I did a survey on University Faculty in 1999  I asked the faculty whether they use the Vadalebene Center............


This is plagiarism.  Even though the student used her thesaurus to change several words, the gist of the author’s passage is still in tact.

B) Plagiarism exists if a student paraphrases a passage from a book without giving the author credit for writing the passage;

Let’s use the same passage as above to illustrate paraphrasing.

A survey is research that is gathered from a sample in which people are asked questions and their responses are recorded.  I did a survey on University Faculty in 1999  I asked the faculty whether they use the Vadalebene Center............

Here, the student did not use the exact words of the authors, thus, she does not need quotes.  However, the spirit of Schutt’s definition is still intact, thus, she does need to put the page number of the passage.

C) Plagiarism exists if a student has someone else write the paper or passages of the paper and presents the work as her own.

Thus, if you purchase a paper, this is plagiarism.  If you have a friend/lover/spouse/enemy/fraternity
sorority/family member write a sentence, paragraph or the whole paper, this is plagiarism.  


Plagiarism is fairly recognizable.  This is because the passages that are plagiarized are written in a different voice than the rest of the paper or the paper is written in a language that clearly exceeds the ability of the student.



Schutt, Russel.  1996.  Investigating the Social World.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press

Undergraduate Catalog. 1995-1997.  Southern Illinois University


Misuse of Quotes

Most people use quotes when they would rather not think about how to put differently what a published author has already said.  So, if an author discusses statistics, students simply place the sentence that discusses the statistics in quotes.  Or if the author provides a definition of a concept, the student will simply quote the definition rather than finding a different way of saying the same thing.    Unfortunately, these are all not appropriate reasons to use quotes.

Quotes should be used to support some claim you are trying to make.  They are not supposed to be used to say something that you could just as easily say yourself.  

Thus, the following is an example of incorrectly using quotes.

Reskin claims that women “are likely to be ignored for promotions even when they are qualified for a position, though men are often given the benefit of the doubt.”  Furthermore, Jenkins says that, “women are often paid less for the same work as men.”

Instead you could say:
Researchers show that men and women are given different opportunities in the workplace when it comes to promotions and pay (Reskin 1985; Jenkins 1976).

Also note that quotes should NEVER stand alone as a sentence.

WRONG:   Raymond argues that sugar causes hyperactivity.  "Sugar leads to energetic children"

Instead, quotes should always appear inside a sentence.

CORRECT:  Raymond claims that "sugar leads to energetic children (p. 133: 1999).

Furthermore, always put the author's last name, year and page number when quoting.

For example.  Sugar is believed to lead "hyperactivity and other mood disorder"  (Raymond 1999: 133).

Lastly,  When a quote is three sentences or longer than put in BLOCK form.

I urge you all to shy away from quotes.   It’s best you prove to your readers that you understand the material and do not have to rely on the words of other authors