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Gender, Ethnicity and Class in the Workplace

Dr. Linda Markowitz
Sociology, Peck Rm 1220
Ph: 650-2451
Office Hours: T/Th 12:30-1:30

Gender and Ethnicity in the Workplace

Course Objective:
Historically, women in the U.S were encouraged to work mainly in the home without wages. However, white working-class and women of color have always had two jobs: raising families and making wages. In contemporary U.S society, women of all classes and races are expected to perform a double shift. The purpose of this class is twofold: 1) Trace the evolution of work for women of different races and classes. How has the nature of work changed for women? 2) Study what issues women now face in both the public and private sphere. How do women manage both jobs? What types of inequality do women experience and how can women overcome those inequalities? How do issues differ by class and race?

We will be exploring these questions from a sociological perspective, meaning we will be examining the organization of gender, race and the society as a whole for answers rather than examining individual or biological explanations.

One of the main purposes of the class is to apply the analytical knowledge we gain through the readings to the contemporary workplace. To this end, most of the semester will be dedicated towards creating a diversity training workshop that can be offered to both profit and non-profit organizations. We will present our final product to our class or in some other public setting.

We are trying to write a diversity training manual. What’s that mean? That means we are trying to get managers to embrace diverse ideas, structures, and people. Diversity is MUCH more than having a few white women and a few people of color! To get managers to embrace diversity they must understand the way society is organized and how social context affects their lives and the lives of their employees.

The class discussions and readings hope to facilitate logical and critical thinking, as well as help us generate necessary information towards the creating of a diversity training manual. We will ensure this goal by asking five general questions about every argument presented by the author(s) of the articles.

a) What is the author(s) trying to argue?
b) How does the author(s) try to explain the argument?
c) Does the author assume the “white middle-class woman” norm?
d) What are the strengths and weaknesses of the argument? ie., what are the assumptions behind the author's propositions, does the evidence answer the question presented in the argument, is the argument logically coherent?
e) How can we apply the author’s logic and/or findings towards a diversity training manual?

Reading Materials

1) Women and Men at Work by Barbara Reskin and Irene Padavic
2) Race, Class and Gender in the United States edited by Paula S. Rothenberg
3) Handouts

FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS ONLY (I recommend grad students purchase books on-line. It is cheaper)
4) Miner’s Canary:Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy by Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres.5) Realities of Affirmative Action by Barbara Reskin
6) Men and Women of the Corporation by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Look over the syllabus and think about whether you can manage the readings. This class requires that you read the material and come prepared for writing and talking about the readings.


1) Tests: There will be one test and one final for the class. Tests will be multiple choice and short essay. Questions will come from lectures, readings and class discussion. The midterm and final for are each worth 15% of your grade (30% total). For graduate students, the tests are worth (10% each or 20% total grade)

2) Papers: Students will write three essays that try to organize the information from the readings and address how we can use such information to help develop policy about issues of gender/sexuality/ethnicity and class in the workplace. Each paper will be 4-6 pages in length. More information about the papers appears below. Each paper is worth 10 percent of your grade (30 % total). For Graduate Students each paper is worth 8% (24%).

Please see the end of the syllabus to discover the paper topics


3) Graduate Students must write a 4-6 page position paper for the three books assigned only to grad. students during the class. Each paper is worth 5% of your grade (15% total) Papers are due during the class period in which we discuss the book.

3) Class Participation:

A) Each person will be assigned a reading throughout the semester that s/he must present to the class. The presentation will be based on a critical analysis that the student has prepared. The presenter will help to facilitate discussion the day the reading is presented to the class. The student is required to meet with the instructor one class day BEFORE the presentation. During the meeting the student will submit a hand-out that answers questions A-E from above. We will go over the hand-out together before class and then I will make copies of the hand-out for all the students. This assignment is worth 10% of your grade. For Graduates Students (8%)

Meet with Professor
Develop Power Point to present to Class
Critically examine reading.

If you fail to make your presentation date without verbal permission from me prior to the date you will receive a 0 for the assignment.

B) Each student will also be graded on how much s/he contributes to discussions overall. Comments about the articles are pertinent and will count for credit. Comments that detract from class discussion or that demonstrate a student has not read the article will not count. Class participation is worth 10% of your grade. Participation is measured by attendance, popquiz grades, and group discussion day papers. For Graduates 8%.

4) FOR UNDERGRADUATES ONLY: Final Project Grade: You can do this either individually or as 2-4 person team. In this project, the goal is to develop a section of a “diversity training manual” given what we have learned about the topic during class. To do so, you must research the topic under study. Then, you describe the topic, providing information on why and how it is important. Next, you develop a theory about why you think this particular problem exists. Finally, develop a diversity training exercise that you think a workplace could use to educate their employees about this topic. Worth 20% grade.

5) Graduate students only: B) Literature Review Paper: (The paper is worth 25%). SEE BELOW.

September 1st Paper one due
October 4th Midterm
October 11th Paper two due
November 6th Paper 3 due
December 6th Final Projects due
December 13th Final and Grad students turn in Lit Review

Reading Scheule

August 21: Discussion of syllabus: WHAT IS A DIVERSITY TRAINING MANUEL. Also choose days to lead class discussion. And discuss plagiarism....

1) History of Women’s Work in the U.S:

A) Defining Race, Gender and Sexuality
August 23rd
i) From the Rothenberg Book ---Night to His Day Pg 54
ii) Chapter 1 in Reskin book.

August 27th
From Rothenberg book
i) Racial Formations, Pg 13
ii) Invention of Hetersexuality pg 68

August 29h
Group Discussion Day: How can we explain gender, ethnicity, sexuality and class:
Answer the following questions using the ideas and evidence from the articles. Then, have someone in your group type up what you discussed as a group and turn in the answers the next class period:

1) Discuss the following concepts: De-humanization, homogenization and de-contextualization
2) How do these concepts contribute to oppression.
3) How can you explain gender, ethnicity and sexuality while thinking about the above concepts?

B) Gender, Race and Class Historically.

September 4th
i)) “Native American Women and Agriculture: A Seneca Case Study.” Sex Roles. Joan Jenson Mallori Smith
September 6th
i) Chapter 2 Reskin Book Christie Brinkman
ii) Handout “From Service to Servitude” Evelyn Nakano Glenn Erica Cochran

Sept 11
Group Discussion Day: How is history important for understanding diversity in the contemporary workforce? Answer the following questions using the ideas and evidence from the articles. Then, have someone in your group type up what you discussed as a group and turn in the answers the next class period:

a) What main points of all the article we just read help us understand the workplace.
b) Who has the power in the Workplace Today?
c) How can historical conceptions of gender, ethnicity and class help us understand who has power today?

2) Theories of Why Inequality Exists for Women in the Workplace
(Liberal vs Socialist vs Radical Feminists)

September 13th and 18th Nathan Bernaix, Micaela Daniel, Amosnee Davis, Morgan Irving

i) Classical Liberal vs Socialist/Marxist --- Zillah Eisenstein, “Developing a Theory of Capitalist Patriarchy and Socialist Feminism” and “Some Notes on the Relations of Capitalist Patriarchy.” Edited by Zillah Eisenstein in Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism. New York: Monthly Review Press. 1979. PP 5-55.

September 20th

B) Theorizing Race, Class and Gender ---- Ramona Sheppard
i) Lani Gunier – “The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy.”
Graduate Students read The Miner’s Canary by Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres for the 20th

September 25th
Rothenberg Book
i) White Privilege by Peggy McIntosh (pg177) Lauren Delaney
ii) Masculinity as Homophobia (Pg 80) Jenna Tucker
iii) Reskin – Chapter 3 Collen Cramsey

September 27th (male norm and merit)
i) Clare Burton: Merit and Gender: Organizations and the Mobilization of Masculine Bias” Ronald Anderson

October 2nd GROUP DISCUSSION DAY: How can we convey the importance of theory to employers and employees in the workforce? Answer the following questions using the ideas and evidence from the articles. Then, have someone in your group type up what you discussed as a group and turn in the answers the next class period:

A) In Class we read theories about race, class and gender and sexuality and merit. How would you use those theories to help a manager understand the definition of race, class and gender? Explain, using the logic from the articles.
B) What would have to change about the workplace, according to the articles, to reduce race, gender and class oppression?

October 4th: MIDTERM

Paper 2 due October 11th
4 ) Issues and Solutions of Inequality
A) Sex Segregation
October 11th
i)) Chapter 4 in Reskin Book Kate Collins

B) Moving Up and Taking Charge

October 16th
i) Chapter 5 in Reskin Book Jamie Todoroff

October 18th
i) The Future of Affirmative Action Sturm and Guinier Kelly Abbot
Graduate Students Read Realities in Affirmative Action by Barbara Reskin for October 18th

C) Pay Gap
October 23rd
i) Chapter 6 in Reskin Dane Whitworth

D) Workplace Cultures: Sexual Harrasment/Racial Harassment and Homophobia
October 25th
i) Handout – StanGray – Sharing the Shop Floor Nicholas Warrenfeltz

October 30th
i) Handout: Sexual Harasmment by Barbara Gutek Megan Mcafee
Guest Speaker


November 1st
Culture of Politics
i) Tokenism by Rosabeth Moss Kanter
ii) Doing Comparable Worth– Joan AckerAlicia Miller
Graduate Studens: Read Men and Women of the Corporation by Rosabeth Moss Kanter for November 1st

November 6th: Paper 3 DUE
November 6th
GROUP DISCUSSION DAY: How do you incorporate issues such as homosocial reproduction, networking, sexual and racial harassment into the contemporary workplace? Answer the following questions using the ideas and evidence from the articles. Then, have someone in your group type up what you discussed as a group and turn in the answers the next class period:

1) How would you describe the workplace problems women experience in the workplace?
2) Are workplace problems different by race, sexuality and age. Explain.
3) What organizational policies can you discuss that might help reduce inequality in the workplace?

5) Juggling Family and Work --
November 8th
i) Handout: Janine Perry – Family Leave Policies. Danielle Drewes
ii) Reskin chapter 7 Barry Bombal

November 13th:
i) Handout: Marjorie Devault – Doing Housework: Feeding the Family Brittany Ackerman

November 15th:
GROUP DISCUSSION DAY: Answer the following questions using the ideas and evidence from the articles. Then, have someone in your group type up what you discussed as a group and turn in the answers the next class period:

1) Can women get ahead if they are primarily responsible for the kids?
2) What policies can change our focus from profit for companies to profit for families?


November 27th

One More Final Project Day: How are things going?

6) Issues for the 21st Centurey

November 29th
Rothenberg Book
i) A New Vision of Masculinity, Pg 717 Kenesha Greer
ii) Interrupting Cycle of Oppression, p. 724 Mich. Johnson
iii) Contronting Anti-Gay Violence, p. 738 K. Lacamera

December 4th
i) Present Projects

December 6th

GROUP DISCUSSION DAYS: Answer the following questions using the ideas and evidence from the articles. Then, have someone in your group type up what you discussed as a group and turn in the answers the next class period:

1) What realistic solutions to end oppression exist for organizations today?
2) What realistic solutions to end oppression exist for individuals today?

FINAL: December 13th at 10:00




Paper Topics for 4-6 page paper:

1) Paper 1: Families and Gender Oppression.

In class, we have discussed a lot about how the family relates to inequality of women. Using evidence from the different articles, how has the family been used to oppress women? Can the family be used to create equality between men and women? If so, how. If not, why not. Either way, use evidence and theory from the articles to back up your claims. (Remember to include different ethnicities and classes and to cite articles in all aspects of the answer)

Paper 2: Critiquing Rationality
Thus far during the semester we have discussed at length the classical liberal assumption that each of us has the potential to be “rational” and how that rationality is tied into the belief that people’s decision are based on “choices” rather than structural constraints. I want you to use the articles we’ve read to critique the assumptions of “rationality” and “choice.” Tell me why these assumptions are invalid and illogical. Then tell me what assumption we should be using to organize society instead. Finally, how can we present this argument to workers and their employers?

Paper 3: Theory and Solutions
Use one or more of the theories discussed in class to make sense of why most people are resistant to solutions such as comparable worth and affirmative action. In order to answer this question, define the terms, provide the theory or theories that best explain resistance and then provide an argument why some of our authors feel these solutions are most adequate in eradicating inequality in the work world today. Do you agree with our authors? If not, what are some better solutions.

In order to complete the papers, you must write a well-organized, well-argued and well-documented essay. In order to receive a passing grade, you must include each of the following.

1) Each of the questions must be at least 4-8 double-spaced pages.
2) You must begin with a thesis sentence that summarizes the argument you will make and then each remaining paragraph must tie into the thesis statement in some way.
3) You must back your claims by citing all the relevant literature we have read so far in class. You should not have to do ANY outside reading in order to answer these questions. Rather, think about what you have read in class and make your points using the articles.

For instance, if you are answering a question about how women’s work has changed over the last century. You can say something like: With the increase of industrialization, women’s work increased rather than decreased. Ruth Cowan (1988) provides evidence that women...... Nona Glazer (1992) further attests how capitalism pulled women.........

The more you use articles to back up your claims, the better grade you will get. However, you must not haphazardly throw in author’s names just for the sake of name-dropping. Each article you introduce into your essay should be relevant and appropriate. If you use an author’s arguments inappropriately or fail to cite many author’s arguments, your grade will be DEEPLY affected (meaning you could fail the exam).

Do not use quotes of authors in your papers. The papers are too small to warrant quotes. Simply provide an author’s argument in your own words. Indeed, the purpose of the midterm is to assess: a) did you read the article? b) did you understand the articles c) can you apply knowledge from the article in another context?


In these papers, you must also CITE correctly and NOT plagiarize. My web-site talks about each of these issues at length. To cite correctly, you must put the author’s last name after each idea you have borrowed. At my website, you will see an example. Please go check it out. Plagiarizing is when you take another author’s word for word and fail to do two things: a) put quotation marks around the sentence(s) you have borrowed and b) cite the author with the page number at the end of the sentence. Again, go to my website.

Final Project Explanation: The goal of this project is to apply social facts and theory to develop some sort of Workplace Diversity Training Exercise. Thus, you must familiarize yourself with some issue of diversity and then use this knowledge to creatively develop a teaching tool that could be used in the workplace. To do so, follow these steps.

A) Choose one topic out of the 5 suggested below:

1) What are the historical roots of gender, race and class?
A) How have notions of gender, race and class affected the U.S. workplace historically?
B) What do historical notions of gender, race and class have to do with the workforce today?

2) How are non-white female and white female workers at a disadvantage in today’s workplace?

A) Dual Sphere -- How can it help us understand worker’s decisions.
B) Men as the norm -- What does that mean? (Family-work split)
C) What is “merit?” --- Does a meritocracy really exist.

3) How do networking, workplace cultures and homo-social reproduction affect workers?

4) What is discrimination and how does it exist in most workplaces?

A) race and sex segregation of jobs
B) racial and sexual harassment.
C) wage/mobility/power differences

5) Bridging the family work conflict
A) Thinking of family/work policies to make the workplace better.

B) Do Outside Research to DESCRIBE the prob

To learn more about the topic, do some research that helps you understand the extent of the problem. PLEASE use as many of the readings in class to get you started. But you must also collect ideas from articles we haven’t read as well. For instance, if you are trying to explain how historical issues of gender affects the workplace (topic 1) you would want to do more research on the history of gender/race and class in the workplace. Such research could describe laws, norms or economic conditions that made it difficult for women to compete with men in the paid. workforce.

While you may use as many sources as you wish, I require that at least 3 come from scholarly sources from the social sciences. A scholarly source is one that comes from peer reviewed journals and has a list of references that back up what the researcher is claiming. Please look at my web-site if you are not clear what a scholarly source is. The library database: socindex has a place where you can check called “scholarly sources” and “peer reviewed.” If you check these when doing your search, you can be sure that the journals are fine.

Also, I require that students attach the articles that you have used so that I can be sure you have not plagiarized. If you’d like, you can email me the article or simply send me the web address. I will not grade your paper unless I have all the articles from where you attained information at my disposal.

C) Apply Theory
As you are doing research, you should be thinking about WHY the phenomenon under study exisst. Why historically, were men and women treated differently. Why does the workplace culture exist in a way that can harm some groups more than others.

D) Make a Diversity Training Exercise.

Here’s the fun part. You’ve acted the academic. You’ve researched your topic. Now you must think of a way to apply this information so that people who have never thought about it are interested to learn about it. For example, make up a game that teaches about the affects of networking. Develop a slide show that demonstrates how our notions of “merit” are based on the male norm, and thus, hinder women. Whatever exercise you develop, it should be based on the knowledge from your research. BUT, it must turn this information into a thought-provoking, fun endeavor that could teach people about diversity in the workplace.

E) The paper should be 8-10 pages. Three pages should be used to explain the problem. Two pages should be used for creating theory and 3 pages should be used to explain the exercise you developed. In this section, make sure you describe fully what the exercise is. Also, explain clearly how the exercise fits logically with the statement of the problem and the theory you used to explain the problem. Make sure you attach whatever exercise you developed.


In this paper the student will choose one area of gender, sexuality, ethnicity or class and work and do a complete literature review on the area. A literature review is a summary of the topic under study. It requires that students understand the logic of how the different writings fit together. The literature review requires the following:

1) An abstract that describes the paper
2) A 15-20 page, double-spaced paper that summarizes the literature in a logical way, using citations to back up claims. The paper should also address the strengths and weaknesses of the literature. What questions are left unanswered in the literature and should be further studied?
3) A complete bibliography with at least 10 articles and 4 books cited.
NOTE: A literature review IS NOT simply a summary of all the articles you have read. Such a paper will automatically receive a “D” or less. Rather, a literature review helps the reader understand where the state of the literature in gender is presently situated.

For instance: If I do a literature review on why women are less likely covered by unions, I can organize the literature by theoretical paradigm. For instance, I can claim that there are three broad paradigms which try to explain why women participate less in unions. A) Individual Level Theories which focus on the internal motivations of women B) Structural Level Theories which focus on how the organization of work and unions keep women out and C) Meso-Level Theories which focus on the relationship between work, union and families. As I explain these paradigms, I cite the studies which are relevant. One article, then, can be discussed in all three theories in the article covers all three paradigms.




Industry and Society: Sociology 338