Gender and Communication

May 11, 2001

Speech 412

Wood, J. T. (19991 Gendered Lives: Communication Gender and Culture. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishers.

Tannen, D. (19961 Gender & Discourse. Oxford University Press.

Course description: This course is an Upper Division Course! It is designed to develop students’ ability to critically think and analyze issues of gender and communication. This will be accomplished by examining theoretical perspectives used to explain gender phenomena, gender socialization, male and female interactions and stereotypes. It examines the influence of gender in our lives by utilizing various tools including films, quest speakers, lectures, in-class exercises and class discussion in both large and small groups. A high degree of class participation is both expected, and required to maximize student learning through integration and extrapolation of personal experience with in-class guided curriculum. To facilitate discussion, students am expected to have completed all reading and writing assignments ON THE DATE SCHEDULED!

Course objectives
1. Students shall become familiar with major issues regarding communication and gender through critical analysis and discussion of pertinent readings, writing assignments, guest lecturer presentations, on-campus activities, in-class activities, and service learning experiences.
2. Students will understand the critical and-dynamic roles of age and culture as these concepts interrelate to the development of gender attitudes and behavior this will be accomplished through service learning experiences, assigned readings, and by integrating personal and classroom experiences.
3. Students will develop and strengthen their ability to critically analyze the influence and role of gender in their lives through increased self-awareness, gender-awareness, and hopefully, age and cultural awareness by successfully completing course requirements.
4. Student participation in the service learning opportunity will combine meaningful community service with in-class learning through a process of guided/structured reflection exercises.


Section I: Creating a foundation: Theoretical explanations
Section II: Language and mixed messages\verbal and nonverbal
Section III: Roles and relationships in context
Section IV: Media and gender stereotyping

Graded assignments:

1. Participation Paragraphs: For each class meeting that readings are assigned (see course schedule), students must prepare a written comment. Comments should be no less than a paragraph and no more than one page (typed, double-spaced. These comments should state a reaction to the reading, statements (positive or negative), and pose one question for class discussion. They can utilize personal experience or personal philosophy, but must draw on the reading as the basis for the reaction. These are due at the beginning of class ! (3 points each*)

2. Reflection Exercises: Contained in your course packet are instructions for completing four “guided reflection” exercises. Follow the instructions for the completion of each paper carefully. It is your responsibility to be sure each paper is turned in on the date specified for the particular assignment These will also serve as the basis of some small group and class discussions (4 @ 25 points each*).

3. Service Learning Project: Students must volunteer a minimum of ten hours in a non-profit organization which deals with gender issues or issues related to sexual identity. A list of possible organizations is provided to assist in your selection; however, this list is not comprehensive. Students are encouraged to find groups which serve others in their own communities or in their own specific interest area; please consult with me, however, before making a commitment. Various course assignments (e.g., reflection papers, presentation) will use the service learning experience as the basis for their completion (see Reflection Exercises and Portfolio).

4. Service Learning Presentation: During the last two weeks of the semester, students will present information about their community agency for which they have committed time throughout the semester. Detailed instructions for the presentation are contained in this course packet (25 points).

5. Course Portfolio: On the date indicated, you are to turn in a completed course portfolio. Instructions for putting the portfolio together are contained in your course packet (100 points*)

6. Final examination is scheduled for Thursday, May 20 from 10:15a.m.-12:15p.m. The final examination will test on all textbook material covered. A study guide is contained in your course packet. The final exam is objective (multiple choice, True/False, fill-in, matching, and some short answer) and is worth 50 points (25 questions worth 2 pts each)

*all written assignments will be reduced by one point for every day (including weekends) that they are (LATE is defined as anything not turned in at the BEGINNING-11am-of class)

Participation Paragraphs 18 points (6 @ 3 points each)
Ref lection Papers 100 points- (4 @ 25 pts each)
Presentation 25 points
Course Portfolio 100 points
Final exam 50 points
Total 393 points

*Final grades will be assigned based upon percentiles (90% 6md above A, 80-89% 8, etc).

Attendance: Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class period (if you are LATE coming to class you are ABSENT). Two absences are allowed; more than two absences will result in a 20 point reduction in your point total at the end of the semester (final grade will be assigned accordingly).

Week Dates
Course Schedule (Approximate)

1 Jan 26-28 Intro/Syllabus
In-class exercise:
What’s it like?

2 Feb 2-4 Wood: Ch 1.
Sex and/or Gender??
Participation Paragraph #1 (Ch 1) due Feb 2

Section 1: Creating a foundation: Theoretical explanations

3 Feb 9-11 Wood: Ch, 2
Theoretical Approaches to the Understanding of Gender
Participation Paragraph #2 (Ch 2) due Feb 9

4 Feb 16-18 Theoretical Approaches (cont·d)
Wood: Ch 3
From An Historical View (Women’s and Men’s Movements)
Film: A Gathering of Men
Participation Paragraph #3(Ch 3) due Feb 18

5 Feb 23-25 Wood: Ch 6
The development of gender identity
Film: Star Trek The Next Generation (I. Borg)
Considering gender over the life course
Focus on Family
Guided Reflection Paper #1 (Gender: Theoretically Speaking)
due Feb 25

Section II: Language and mixed messages/ Verbal and nonverbal

6 March 2-4 Maybe you DO Understand??
Re: Tannen, D. (1996). Gender& Discourse. Oxford University Press.
Participation Paragraph #4 (Tannen) due March 2

7 March 9-11 Wood: Chs 4 & 5
Verbal and nonverbal Language

Section III: Roles and relationships in Context

8 March 16-18 Wood: Ch 7
Focus on Relationships: We are all from the same planet!?! (Debate on Gray “Men-Mars,” etc.)

9 March 23-25 Wood: Ch 7 (cont·d) Focus on Relationships:
Considering your own
Guided Reflection Paper #2 (Gendered Communication and Relationships or Reflection on Women’s History Month Event)
due March 25

10 March 30-April 1 No Class: Spring Break

11 April 6-8 Wood; Ch 8
Gendered Education: Communication in School Settings
Participation Paragraph #5 (Ch 8) due April 6

12 April 13-15 Wood: Ch 9
Gender in the Workplace
Participation Paragraph #6 (Ch 9) due April 13

13 April 20-22 Sexual Harassment: Has it happened to you?
Guest Speaker: Paula Perlman
Guided Reflection Paper. #3 (A Gender Analysis of My Workplace, School, or Service Organization)
Due April 22

Section IV: Media and gender stereotyping
Wood: Ch 10
Gender and Media/Advertising
Collect examples and. bring them to class!
Film: Still Killing Us Softly

14 April 27-29 Wood: Ch- 11
Gender and Violence
Guest Speaker- Lynne Coenen
Guided Reflection #4 (Gendered Media Messages) due April 29

15 May 4-6 course Portfolio Due May 4th
Student Presentations

16 May 11-13 Student Presentations

17 May 20 Final Examination (10:15 am to 12:15 pm)

Guided Reflection Exercises: Instructions for Papers

The Reflection Papers provide the opportunity to critically analyze and integrate what you are learning in class with what you are experiencing and learning outside of class. For each paper, there are various “topic” choices available to you; choose one that is of most interest and relevance to you. These papers should be typed, double-spaced, with appropriate title page (including your name, course identification, and paper title), and running head (the course identification and page number on the right hand upper comer of each page of your syllabus is a “running head”). Papers should be at least three but no more than five pages in length.

Please follow the instructions provided for writing each paper. Directions for focusing your paper are provided; however, by no means should these be the only parameters by which you express-your thoughts/feelings regarding the topic selected Papers will be graded according to thoughtfulness, creativity, degree to, which paper integrates course material with personal experience, legibility, correct grammatical sentence and paragraph construction (also check spelling), and turned in on time (at 11a.m. on the date due-papers will be reduced by one point for every day they are turned in late). Each paper is worth 25 points.

REFLECTION PAPER #1: Gender, theoretically speaking (due February 25)

During the first few weeks of the semester, we have discussed various theories that attempt to explain” sources and characteristics of gendered behavior. The purpose of this reflection paper is to help you make a connection between theory and “real life.’ Choose one of the topics below to fulfill the requirements of the paper.

Choice #1: Select one theory that seems to “fit” with your line of thinking and briefly describe it. Now, briefly describe an “issue” that you are dealing with in your own life (how personal you wish to get is entirely up to you). How does the theory “work” in explaining the issue you have described? What is/are the way(s) in which the theory works the best? What are the limitations to the theory in its ability to explain what is going on? If you were going to conduct research using this theory, how might you go about designing a project to test it? List some questions that you would like to see research answer using this theory.

Choice #2: Your text contains an explanation of the distinction(s) between sex and gender. We also participated in an exercise to assist in your recognition of the distinctions–especially when the two terms are often used interchangeably. Briefly describe (in your own words) how you see the difference between the two terms. Now, after making some observations in either your own conversations; conversations between others (that you overhear); on television, in books, magazines, or movies, etc., identify some examples that provide a distinction between the two terms. In your opinion, were the terms used correctly? Why or why not? If you could create a lesson for young children regarding the sex/gender distinction (e.g., at school or maybe your OWN children if and when you have them), how would you design this lesson (please be as specific as you can!). How important is it to understand the distinction between the two terms?

REFLECTION PAPER #2: Gendered Communication and Relationships (due March 25)

We have now moved on to exploring the role of gendered characteristics and gendered behavior in relationships, in our lives. The purpose of this ref lection paper is to facilitate the recognition of gender in YOUR life and there are various contexts in which this could occur. Choose one of the topics below to fulfill the requirements of the paper.

Choice #1 : Relationships: A challenge whether or not we understand the role of gender … but, one of the big points to be made through this course IS the connection between gender and COMMUNMCATION-integral to understanding and maintaining relationships. Select one relationship in which you are now engaged in. This DOES NOT mean an intimate, heterosexual relationship ONLY; there are lots of different kinds of relationships in which gender plays a role. Briefly describe the relationship. Given our discussion of “sex” -and “gender” earlier in the semester, characterize the gendered nature of this relationship and each of the participants (yourself included) How do these characteristics play a part in the communication that takes place? What are the benefits of feminine characteristics? What are the benefits of masculine characteristics? What are the adversities of feminine/masculine characteristics? Summarize how YOU see the role of gender in this relationship.

Choice #2: Review John Gray·s book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” How is this book relevant to our study of communication and gender? In what way(s) is this book very distinct from our class in its view on communication and gender? Compare and contrast the two views on communication, gender, and relationships. This paper will serve as the basis for our “debate” scheduled for March 18th.

Choice #3: Women·s History Month is March, 19991 Attend one or more of the events scheduled throughout the month (but before the due date!). Briefly describe the event(s). What were the purpose and focus of the event(s)? What have you learned in class that helped you to better understand the event(s)-on a gendered level? – Briefly describe one aspect of the event that relates directly to something you have learned in class. Do you think your opinion of or reaction to the event “topic” is different now (that you are in this class) than it would have been had you not taken the class? Why or why not?

REFLECTION PAPER #3: A gendered analysis of … (due April 22)

Choice#1: My Workplace
Choice #2: My School/Campus
Choice #3: My Service Organization

Explore the effect of gender in either the organization in which you work, the CSULB campus, or your community service organization. This should include an exploration of legal issues (affirmative action, sexual harassment, etc-information available at the Women·s Resource Center or Affirmative Action Office) as well as informal divisions of labor by gender (any formal policies are in violation of laws against discrimination-if they are in place report them!). Reports must make explicit the organization·s cultural norms regarding acceptable behavior for each sex and/or gender normative behavior. Promotion policies and practices, work and family practices must also be included in this report. Methodologies and insights from readings and class discussions should also be applied to your analysis. Include in your paper some conclusions that you draw according to what you know and what you found out in your investigation. What do you see as strong points in the organization/s policies? Weak points? Any suggestions for areas/policies that should be changed?

REFLECTION PAPER #4: Gendered Media Messages (due April 29)

Media messages are omnipresent in our lives! It seems that no matter what we are doing at any point in time there is a mediated norm of communication close at hand. What we have discovered is that these messages may socially construct how we think and what we do–although research has yet to discover just how pervasive these messages are. We also know that the subtle messages conveyed can be as influential as the obvious ones. The effects of these messages are of primary concern in gender and cultural research. The purpose of this paper is to explore the presence of mediated gender in your life.

Choice #1: Watch morning cartoons or children’s programs including commercials. Visit a toystore and survey the toys that are available and locate those for which you saw a commercial. While you watch TV or visit the store, take notes on the messages given to the children about their expected interests and behavior by the TV commercial or by the toys themselves. (Hint: some of the messages might be quite obvious, others more subtle. Use your investigative skills to reveal as many of the subtle ones as you can identify. Briefly reflect on what you learned/observed about the socialization process for boys and girls found in mediated messages. Did you notice any differences in the messages given by toys/commercials aimed at boys and girls? If so, what were they? Does this seem to support or refute idea presented in the readings? Why or why not?

Choice #2: Look through various magazines and choose one for analysis. Identify the target audience for the magazine you have selected. Analyze the content of the advertisements contained within the magazine. What am the products being advertised? Who are the ‘models’ being used in the ads? What are their racial, age, sex, or gender characteristics? What are the
obvious, product messages being conveyed? What are the subtle social messages being conveyed.
What could you do to voice your concerns about the messages being sent?

Choice #3: Watch MTV for one hour during which music videos are being broadcast. Identify the target audience for the videos. Analyze the content of the videos. What is the language being used in the music? Who are the participants in the video? What are their racial, age, sex, or gender characteristics? What are the obvious messages being conveyed? What are the subtle messages being conveyed? What could you do to voice your concerns about the messages being sent?

Choice #4: Follow instructions for #2 or #3 above for either movies, television programs, news broadcasts, advertisements, video games, etc.

Guidance for Service Learning Project: It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

The Service Learning (SL) component has been incorporated into this course for four reasons: (1) SL links academic study to community service, (2) SL provides structured opportunities for students to critically reflect on the experience because … (3) ref lection is a dynamic process for analysis, evaluation, problem-solving mediation, and reasoning, and (4) SL is directly linked to both the content of the course and its learning objectives! We will have Stephanie Evans as our guest on January 28th to explain Service Learning from a student’s, perspective–she assists in the Service Learning Center on our campus. Here·s how to begin your Service Learning Project.

(1) Following these pages of “guidance” you will find a list of various organizations that have been identified and selected through our Service Learning Center on the CSULB campus.
These organizations have been selected because their purpose is relevant to the content to be covered in this course. The list, however, is by no means comprehensive. If you know of another organization that fits the criteria for this course, please discuss it with me and I will authorize your commitment. Find an organization for which you would be willing to commit a minimum of ten hours over the course of the semester and contact them by phone. I have provided a letter of introduction for you (located after the organization list).

(2) Discuss the commitment with the organization contact person. If necessary, complete a contract for your service. Some organizations require that an application and/or contract be completed (a sample is provided after the organization list).

(3) Begin your time commitment as early in the semester as possible! Document your time spent at the agency you have selected. Your experiences will comprise part of the course ‘portfolio’ to be turned in at the end of the semester. The best way to accomplish this is through a journal documenting your experiences, duties, reactions, thoughts, feelings, etc. I have samples of “questions” to direct your journal entries if you need a start! These can also be, incorporated into the “Reflection Papers’ which draw on personal experiences such as those you will have at your community agency.

Your Service Learning Presentation (25 points)

The oral report should describe the organization and its goals. Particular attention should be paid to the way the organization is governed. How are decisions made and how does that reflect assumptions about gender? What issues raised in class or in the readings are dealt with by this organization? How does the organization deal with these issues? What is the history of the organization and how does that history fit in with the cultural messages of the times in which it was started? How has this organization changed over time to respond to social changes or the needs of the population it assists?
Students should be prepared to discuss the issues with which the organization deals so that the organization deals so that the class gains an understanding of the issues, stereotypes, and prejudices that the organization encounters. The presentations will be scheduled early in the semester and will take place during the last four class sessions. The length of each presentation will be determined according to the number of presentations to be given. These should be structured according to what you know about oral presentations with time allocated to responding to questions and comments.

Please provide a one-page outline containing your description and presentation for all students in class on the day of your presentation.

The date for MY presentation is_________!

Service Learning Project Organization List

W.I.N.T.E.R. (Women in Non-Traditional Employment Roles)
P.O. Box 90511
Long Beach, CA 90809
Contact Sharon Murphy, Director of Education
Description: Agency serves predominantly women of color attempting transition from welfare to work in traditionally male high-wage, high-school jobs such as electrician, plumber, etc. Assist with tutoring in high-school diploma program, give workshops on life skills, health, etc. We go to work with interests of student. Call to schedule interview. 1-2 hours/week. 2 positions available

Campfire Boys & Girls
7070 E. Carson St.
Long Beach, CA 90808
Contact: Donna Salisbury, Program Director or Shirlee Jackert, Executive Director
Description: Help instruct after-school program or help with outreach programs. Call for application. Bilingual preferred. 2 hours/week.
2 positions available

Harbor Area Halfway Houses, Inc.
940 Dawson Ave. Long Beach, CA 90804
Contact: Monica Stel,
Description: Transitional living for women. Help with activities for residents, such as exercise program, self-esteem raising activities, or just conversation with the women. Willing to work with interests/hobbies of the student. Call for interview. 2-5 hours/week. 1 position available

California Elwyn
18325 Mt. Blady Circle
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Contact Rick Travis, Executive Director
Description: Floor Supervisor’s Aid. Help disabled clients master work projects and improve skills. Help floor supervisor track client productivity and accomplishments. 2 hours/week. 1 position available

City of Long Beach

School: California State University, Long Beach
Professor: Dr. Valerie Cryer McKay, Ph.
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