The three written assignments for this course are designed to give students an opportunity to write academic papers based upon first-hand research in the psychology of women. Assignment requirements are provided below.
--It is up to the student to look at the course schedule, determine when each assignment is due, and pace him/herself accordingly.
--Students should carefully read the directions for each assignment and make certain that that they comply with all required steps.
--Students should make an appointment to speak with me, if they find that they are having difficulty with any of the assignments or if they simply wish to clarify some aspect of the assignment.
--These assignments are not to be completed in groups and students should avoid plagiarizing other students, the Internet, or other source materials.
--Papers should be completed with care and effort and should reflect a college-level involvement with the topic. Work that is careless or inappropriate for the current level of academic achievement will receive.
--Papers should demonstrate an understanding of the concept and principles presented in the course and give evidence of your critical thinking skills and ability to synthesize and apply course material.
--Correct grammar, spelling, and APA style for citations and references (it is not necessary to complete the body of papers in APA style) are essential.
--Quality of your discussion of the questions/issues (Be sure to develop your points; remember that one of your goals should be to show me how much you know.)
OPTIONS FOR ASSIGNMENT ONE (DUE: JULY 17th)
Students should choose one of the following options for their first assignment. After completing the research questions listed (and any other questions that they think are pertinent to their topic), students should write a three to five page paper outlining the results of their research and any insights or conclusions that they have drawn from this research. Students should write an integrated, essay-style paper. They should NOT list the questions and answers. Students should be certain to include information from class lecture and the text to demonstrate their understanding of the course material related to their chosen topic.
--Toys R Us: Take a trip to any store that has a well-stocked toy section. Examine the placement and packaging of the toys. Do certain colors dominate sections of the store? Who is pictured on the packaging? How would you describe the toys for "boys" and the toys for "girls"? Are there any gender-neutral toys (what makes them neutral?)?
--Saturday morning cartoons: Watch two hours of children's TV programming (i.e. Saturday morning cartoons, after-school cartoons, NICK, Cartoon Network, or an educational children's program like Sesame Street). What proportion of characters are female? Keep a record of what activities each character engages in and how these fit with gender roles. Who narrates the program? What are the commercials (At whom are they aimed? Who narrated them? What are the products?)? What are the themes of the commercials and the programs (adventure, caring, etc.)? What is their pace (fast-action, slow and pretty)?
--It doesn't matter if it is a boy or a girl--we only want a healthy child: Locate 20 cards congratulating parents on the birth of their child. How many are specifically for boys or girls? Take a closer look at this sex-specified subset: color, images of toys, clothing, decorations (i.e. ribbon and lace), infant's attributes (i.e. sweet, tough). What is the sentiment express in the written text (i.e. joy, pride, etc.)?
--Rent and watch two movies. Pay special attention to the female characters. What characteristics do the females have? Are they good or bad characters? Do they need a man to rescue them? Do they have any flaws that need to be corrected? Are they as well-developed in the story as the male characters?
--Popular Biology: Locate at least three articles from the popular press (i.e. newspapers and magazines like Time and Newsweek) that report sex or gender differences. What differences are reported (i.e. cognitive, physiological, personality)? What is their focus for the cause of the difference (i.e. biology, socialization, social context)?
--Get some statistics from a reliable source about the career that you are anticipating entering. Find out the gender composition of your field (Are there more men training for your job or women? Who holds the majority of positions in your fieldmen or women?). What is the average pay for that job for men? What is the average pay for that job for women? Are there any complications for women in your job of choice (no opportunity for maternity leave and so on)? Try to find at least one female and one male who are in your job of choice and ask them about any sexist attitudes that they have encountered towards women in their job.
OPTIONS FOR ASSIGNMENT TWO (DUE: AUGUST 5th)
Students should choose one of the following options for their second assignment. After completing the research questions listed (and any other questions that they think are pertinent to their topic), students should write a three to five page paper outlining the results of their research and any insights or conclusions that they have drawn from this research. Students should write an integrated, essay-style paper. They should NOT list the questions and answers. Students should be certain to include information from class lecture and the text to demonstrate their understanding of the course material related to their chosen topic.
--The MTV generation: Watch one hour of music videos (i.e. MTV, BET, or VH-1). For each video, determine the gender of the main actor and any recipients (those with whom the main character interacts)? Is the video targeting men or women? For each video, record the number of dominant acts, implicit and explicit aggression, aggression with sexuality, objectification, and implicit and explicit sexuality in which they engage.
--For this assignment you will select and read a romance novel published by Harlequin or Silhouette. The book should have been published within the last five years, and it must be a contemporary novel (that is, historical romances are not eligible, nor are novels involving supernatural events, such as time travel). Having completed your reading, write a paper in which you provide a short summary of the book's plot, briefly describe the main characters, and then analyze the book's plot and characters regarding the book's messages about femininity, masculinity, and relationships. Your discussion should address questions such as the following: What are the skills, occupations, interests, and abilities of the main characters? How do these skills and interests reflect the stereotypes versus the reality of male-female differences and similarities? What are the personality characteristics of the heroine and hero? What roles do the male and female characters play? How is love experienced differently by the heroine and hero? What are their expectations about love and relationships? What does the book tell readers about what women and men should be and do? How are the heroine and hero changed, if at all, by love? (*The idea for the romance novel assignment is based on a similar project discussed in the following: Crawford, M. (1994). Rethinking the romance: Teaching the content and function of gender stereotypes in the Psychology of Women course. Teaching of Psychology, 21, 151-153.)
--Locate as many options for treating PMS or PMDD as possible. Be sure to include over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, health food/natural options, eastern medicine options (such as acupressure, etc.). Write a paragraph on each option discussing the method, what symptoms the method is supposed to cure (i.e. bloating, cramps, etc.), any possible side effects, and why you think it would or would not work (or for whom it might work and why). Students will be unable to integrate with class material, as this assignment will be due prior to the lecture on this material; therefore, students should exercise extra care in researching this assignment.
--Find magazine or newspaper articles, books, or documentaries on female serial killers. How are these women described? Are they treated/diagnosed/ discussed as being different than male serial killers? Are their crime sprees more or less vicious than male serial killers? Is it more or less difficult to catch them? Discuss the incidence of female serial killers in the United States. Students will be unable to integrate with class material, as this assignment will be due prior to the lecture on this material; therefore, students should exercise extra care in researching this assignment.
OPTIONS FOR ASSIGNMENT THREE (DUE: AUGUST 12th)
Using the model presented in class from Daniel Levinson's Season's of A Woman's Life, students should prepare a biography of a woman. She can be famous, living or dead, real or a fictional literary character, or a woman in the student's own life (i.e. mother, sister, grandmother, etc.).
--Students will prepare a five-minute presentation in which they present their biography. Students are encouraged to be creative and incorporate music, pictures, video, or other graphic displays to communicate their information.
--Students will need to have enough information on their chosen individual to complete their assignment, but it is not necessary to have information from across a character's lifespan. Students may imply (within reason) earlier steps that may have led the individual to their current stage.
--Students should let the professor know ONE WEEK IN ADVANCE if they will need any special equipment for their presentation (such equipment may not be available and students will need to make other arrangements).
--Students should also discuss any special issues in their chosen individual's life that have been major points of discussion in our class (i.e. glass ceiling, physical or mental health issues, motherhood, romance, etc.).
--Presentations should be well-rehearsed (Projects should not be too short, as students will need all of their time to meet the assignment requirements. Conversely, students will be cut off at the five-minute mark in order to enable all students to participate.). Presentations should also be professional and informative.