Woodrow Wilson Department of Government

and Foreign Affairs


PLAP 514                                                                                                       Mr. Rhoads

Sex Differences: Theory and Policy                                                               Fall  2004



(and in class)


General Instructions


            The questions that follow are suggestive.  You should feel free to write your paper on any part of the assigned reading.  Although it might help our discussions more if you responded to one or more of the questions here, you should feel free to go in a different direction if you would like to.

            The papers are not meant to be research papers.  You should not feel that you have to read anything other than what has been assigned for the class.  If you want to critically analyze a single author's position, that would be fine.  Alternatively, you could discuss two or three authors and indicate where you agree and disagree with each and why.  What you should avoid is simply summarizing the positions of the various authors.  I will be interested in your own analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the authors' positions, and, where relevant, what you think public policy or cultural understanding should be in the area under discussion.  Pick out what interests you and what you think would make for an organized, coherent, and well argued paper.



Week 2 - Masculinity/Femininity Questions


A.  Differences and Their Sources


Sociologists and biologists are in essence dealing with a chicken-or-the-egg problem of which comes first: do male and female preferences and attitudes arise from the sex roles society has assigned to them, or do the sex roles sprout from the biologically based preferences and attitudes that were there from the start?  Discuss both claims.  Which is more correct?  How do nature and nurture magnify and temper each other?


What behaviors and attitudes are generally viewed as masculine and feminine?  Are these stereotypes unfounded?  Pernicious?


Udry says (563) the foundation for the division of labor by sex is reproduction and infant survival.  Look around you at the sexual division of labor.  How persuasive is this view?


Consider Udry's discussion of the policy implications of his findings (572).  Which of the "alternative agendas" would you favor?


Many people believe that seeing human being as “determined” is incompatible with human dignity.  Is Cronin correct in saying that such people should be as opposed to believing that we are socially determined as to believing that we are biologically determined.


Cronin believes that we are not biologically determined but also believes that males are dramatically more violent and substantially more likely to be geniuses.  Analyze her postion.


Explore Rhoads’ understanding of the contemporary feminist world view.  Does it help  at all, as he does, to explore the connection between a researchers’ world view and their findings on this contentious subject?  Should one normally give more credence to research findings which the researcher would prefer not to have found?  For example, findings which seem to reinforce sexual stereotypes?


Rhoads gives examples of four kinds of bodies of research, which he thinks suggest there are biological causes for sex differences in humans.  Are you persuaded that all four provide important evidence in this regard?


Given your reading of Udry’s article and Rhoads’ discussion of Udry, what do you make of this line of research?  Are there any holes in it which a social constructionist could use to make a thoroughgoing critique? 


Is Rhoads persuasive in his argument that there are two kinds of females and one kind of male?  Discuss. How much does the LA Times article lend credence to this theory? What other implications might there be of greater genetic variety among women than among men?


Is it true, as Rhoads argues at the end of his chapter, that the big cultural battle is not between men and women but between some women and other women?  Do more traditional women have less influence in the culture wars than their numbers would suggest they should have?  Is the media biased against traditional women? 


Is it true that in some real sense, feminists and traditional women each hurt the other’s ability to achieve their important life goals?  What if anything should be done about this?


Do you think the point of view of traditional women is likely to die out as the feminist agenda advances more successfully?  Alternatively, do you think the feminist world view is likely to need a very substantial revision in the future if it is to have continued influence in the political and culture wars?


Is it true, as Rhoads seems to suggest, that there is more of a stigma if a bright woman seeks a more traditional life for herself  (as a stay at home mom/ homemaker or a woman who only works part time while her children are young) than if she is a thoroughgoing careerist who expects her husband to do half the housework and childcare?


Many scholars argue that whatever the findings of the biological and evolutionary sciences they should not have any affect on how we look at public policy and what directions are American culture should be changed.  Rhoads disagrees and sees that sex differences will and should have policy implications.  Discuss.


Research on sex differences provokes numerous debates, but few so heated as whether the research should continue regardless of its findings.  Should we discard such research due to its possible perversions, or press on?  What, if any, ethical boundaries should guide us?  Are you persuaded  that most psychology texts systematically minimize sex differences?  If so, why is this and what, if anything, should/could be done about it?  Why does sex difference research become politicized?


Discuss the social role theory of sex differences. How does it differ from the evolutionary psychology theory? How do the theories make different use of similar evidence? Which theory do you find more persuasive and why?


Of what significance is the finding that stereotypes about the traits of men and women are similar in a wide variety of cultures?


Feminists usually argue, in effect, that society deals women "lousy cards"—an unsatisfying life.  But Gilmore says societies "force men to shape up" and bring about "male-role stress" and he says their differing sex role is not explained by sociobiology but rather by culture.  Discuss. 


Are men better or worse when pushed to the "impregnator-protector-provider" roles (223)?  Is maleness "nurturing?"  Are men "innately" not so very different than women? (230)


Compare Udry and Gilmore on the nature/nurture controversy.  How much weight should be given to the case of the “opposite sex identical twins” example given at the beginning of Rhoads’ chapter? David Gilmore says we need to re-conceptualize our notions of nurturance—that another framework sees men as equally nurturant.  Discuss his claim.  How do sex differences and the ways in which we would like to organize society impact our definitions of what is feminine and masculine?


B.  Differences and Culture


How should parents react to observed sex differences?  Is there such a thing as gender-neutral parenting?  Should parents discourage children from behaving in ways that stereotypically fit their sex?   Should parents encourage children to behave in stereotypical ways? 


Is a good man more than just a good person?  A good father more than a good parent?  Consider Blankenhorn and Miedzian on the traditional understanding of masculinity.


Blankenhorn and Miedzian disagree in particular about whether the following embodies a destructive masculine mystique (Blankenhorn, quoting Miedzian, p. 17, top): "He does not express much emotion. He doesn't cry. He is very concerned with dominance, power, being tough. His taste in movies runs to John Wayne and Sylvester Stallone. On TV, he watches violent shows like Miami Vice and Hawaii Five-O. Whatever his actual behavior may be, he is likely to indulge in callous sexual talk about women. He may feel that a high level of involvement in child care is unmanly." Miedzian goes on to say that such fathers "reinforce in their sons just those qualities that serve to desensitize them and make them more prone to commit violent acts or condone them."


What does it mean to be a good man?  A good father?


Consider Blankenhorn's historical functions of the father (25): protection, material needs, moral education and representing the family's interests in the outside world.  Are (should) these functions be shared equally by women?  Did we lose anything with the disappearance of the phrase "good family man"? Are good parents androgynous, or do, and should, fathers and mothers have distinctive roles (e.g., p. 30)? Is the mother usually more responsible for baby survival and the father for ensuring good adult outcomes?


Critically evaluate Blankenhorn's proposed 8-point redefinition of a good family man.


C.  The Unconnected Man


What best explains why girls' toys focus so often on relationships, boys and shopping?


Why don’t women fish as men do in North Carolina?


 Does Crenshaw explain the Doonesberry cartoon?  Does she explain why "a good man is hard to find" for a woman who wants a committed relationship?  Does the picture she presents suggest that men are worth having?


Is Tannen saying that men are as connected (to other men) in their own way? Do you notice that men speak at “angles” and at a distance?


Week 3 - Sexuality Questions


A. Theory


Buss has said that "Ultimately, the disturbing side of human nature must be confronted if its harsh consequences are ever to be ameliorated."  If what Buss says about human nature is true, how can these "harsh consequences" be ameliorated?  If our sexual nature is instinctive and intended to help us choose the best mate for evolutionary purposes, to what extent should we try to suppress our more socially unacceptable tendencies? How strong is the male orientation toward short-term relationships? How strong is the female aversion to short-term relationships?  How effective is society at restraining our hormonal and evolutionary instincts and promoting other behavior?  Crenshaw discusses the role hormones play in human sexual behavior. Are we prisoners of our hormones and biological history when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex?


Could a deeper understanding of our evolutionary sexual strategies bring the two sexes closer together or would it merely justify each sex's worst behavior?


Do you think modern men and women do choose their mates as Buss describes based on the other's potential as a reproductive partner?  How much of our dating and mating is done instinctively as Buss argues, and how much is cognitively or culturally driven?


Why do professionally successful women care more about a mate's resources than less successful (economically) women do?  Are men's preferences in a mate as different from women's as Buss suggests? 


Buss takes an amoral approach to his findings, and has said that there is "no moral justification for a single [mating] strategy."  If nature does play such a large role, is he right or does society still have an interest in imposing a moral structure on our sexual choices?


Is there anything admirable in men and women as described by Buss that one might build a morality on?  How could differing orientations toward short-term relationships create different roles for men and women in constructing and maintaining such a morality?


Buss says beauty is not simply skin deep.  What should young women be taught about beauty?  Should women work to be beautiful, or work to change societies' expectations of beauty? 


Suppose you  are married with two daughters—a 15 year old who is slovenly (e.g., never seems to comb her hair) and a 16 year old who buys every teen fashion magazine in existence.  The 16 year old loves short mini-skirts and skimpy bikinis.  What do you say to these two?


Eagly and Wood compare evolutionary psychology with "social structure" theories for their ability to explain sex differences, particularly in mate selection. Which theory is more persuasive?  More promising? Why? 


Eagly and Wood imply that Buss' results on cross-cultural mate preferences (men prefer youth and beauty, while women prefer wealth and status) can be interpreted in terms of the social power structure, rather than in terms of evolutionary psychology. How persuasive is their argument?


What role does the different distribution of power and status among American men and women play (if any) in creating gender differences?


Do men, on average, have stronger libido and a stronger taste for sexual variety?  If so, do evolution and/or testosterone explain these differences?  Which parts of Rhoads’ discussion do you find the least persuasive?


Do men care more about a romantic partner’s beauty than women?  How much of the male emphasis on female beauty is biological and how much is cultural?  Does American society place too much emphasis on female beauty?  If so, what if anything, do you think can be done about this?  If you were the mother or father of a sixteen year old girl of average beauty, how do you think you should talk to her about this? 


Do women care more about men’s resources, power, and status when looking for a romantic mate than men do with respect to women’s resources, power and status?  Why do you think this is?  Why does money seem to make a man more “attractive”?


Is Rhoads right that there is a “sexual intimate side of the female desire for a dominant male?”



Is Cashdan persuasive in her argument that women face the a dilemma in trying to become economically self-sufficient on one hand and attracting men willing to support them on the other?


Discuss Cashdan’s discussion of the choices that a woman must make with regard to sexual restrictiveness and/or with regard to competing against men. 


Fisher and Crichton suggest that women are just as interested in sex, and sexual variety, as men are.  Buss says they are not.  Perhaps it is just a certain kind of "urbane" women who are.  Compare and evaluate the contrasting arguments. 


How persuasive is “the orgasm wars?” What about the Broder and Hohmann study on rape and behavior? How strong are the links between a woman’s biology, her behaviors, and her fertility? What are the implications of these links?


According to evolutionary biologists, is there such a thing as the perfect man or the perfect woman?  What are they like?  Do modern women and men strive to be perfect in evolutionary terms?  Are we attracted to what the evolutionary biologists say we will be?  Should women want tall, strong, muscular men if spousal abuse is a large problem?  Would equality in relationships be more likely if women preferred men about the size of the average woman? 



What do you make of the Doonesbury and Cathy cartoons?


B.  Policy


1. Male and Female Relations Among the Poor


To what degree, if at all, would the social problems of poverty-stricken areas be alleviated if women did not agree to engage in premarital sex?


To what degree would these problems be alleviated if more male role models were present in the community, as Raspberry suggests?


How important is the absence of biological fathers in so many families to the problems of contemporary families?  Would greater male child support and more frequent visitation solve these problems?  If so, how would one bring this about, or is it the case that only the physical presence of the biological father in the family would be effective at solving many of these problems?


Are the mating goals of young men and young women in the inner city as strikingly different as Elijah Anderson suggests?  How important is a difference in male and female sexuality to understanding what is going on here?


Should statutory rape laws be revised along the line that Rhoads suggests? 


Is the type of welfare reform that has been emphasized in recent years in women’s best interest?  In men’s best interest?  In society’s best interest?  Can welfare reform help rebuild the two parent family?


Is Rhoads right that contemporary American society does a very poor job in educating young girls about male sexuality and protecting them from its worst forms?


Are you persuaded that female economic success make it more difficult to preserve two parent families?  Discuss.


Do you think that most unmarried teenage women deciding whether to have an abortion or put their child up for adoption are aware of the fact that men find single mothers with children “a big turn off?” 


How persuasive is Barras in her understanding of the effect of fatherlessness on young women?


How persuasive do you find the Akerlof argument that the contraceptive revolution has “immiserated” traditional women? Is this a good explanation of the rise in illegitimacy that Akerlof cites? What obligations do Akerlof’s findings imply for women in limiting their sexual behavior, to other women who are impacted, to young men, and to society in general?


2. Sex and Power


Is there a connection between the drive for political power and sexual promiscuity?  How would Buss and Crenshaw interpret prostitution and the fact that many highly desirable men pay for the services of prostitutes?  Would they be right?


Do Huber and Ceaser convince you that the sexual conduct of politicians is a legitimate and important public issue?  Is "cashing in on political power in the bedroom" the same as depositing tax receipts in a private account in Switzerland?  Or is Paglia right to believe that politicians "cannot always be judged by conventional moral standards?" 


Is Ceaser or Sigelman (in Morin) more right on this issue of "Philanderers-in-Chief?"


Do sex differences in sexuality help explain the sad tale in “The Sugar Daddies Kiss of Death?”  What might be done about this situation?  Do you agree that it requires “separate messages to girls, men, and parents?”  If so, is Rhoads persuasive in his view that there should also be separate message given to young low-income Americans?


3. Sex and Close Military Quarters


What do you make of the articles discussing the issues surrounding sex in missile silos, on submarines, and in foxholes/on guard duty in combat areas?  Discuss.


In the missileer case, is there here a genuine conflict between woman’s fair chance for equal career opportunities and genuine religious belief?  If so, which should take precedence?


Anna Simons seems to suggest that men, when being candid, will admit that they are frequently disrobing and thinking about having sex with women of their acquaintance.  If she is right and if men’s libido is dramatically greater than women’s, should this affect our decisions on cases such as the missile silo and sexually integrated submarines?


Week 4 - Aggression Questions


A.  Theories of Aggression


Is Goldberg persuasive on Why Men Rule?


Do women perceive aggression as more dangerous to themselves because of  the female gender role? 


Why do 'boys just want to have guns'?  Are stag parties based on paintball fights an improvement on those based on strippers?  From society's point of view, are these paintball fights beneficial, harmless, or harmful?


Does the article "Violent Behavior Ebbs After Classes" persuade you that aggression can be un-learned? If so, does this suggest that aggression is a learned rather than an inborn behavior?  Why are men more aggressive?  Why do they more regularly seek dominance?


Is Rhoads persuasive in arguing that it is simply common sense for parents to encourage boys to protect themselves physically more often than they encourage girls to do so?


Does society encourage men to fight and dominate women physically or does it encourage men to see that it is cowardly to fight a woman?  Are men who beat up their mates likely to be respected by other men?  Does this depend on society?  On balance, is it good or bad for men to be taught “that it is cowardly to fight with women”?  Would an emphasis on sex difference make such a teaching more prevalent and believable? 


Can men be taught to believe that it is cowardly to fight with women?  If so, does this show that Rhoads’ emphasis on the deep causes of male aggression are not so deep and powerful after all? 


Does monogamy reduce aggression?  If so, how?  Does this mean that we should encourage men and women to get married? 


Rhoads briefly discusses a study that shows, where women get together often with their neighbors, crime rates are lower, but that this effect is heavily dependant on the women having husbands.  Why do you think that this may be?


“If women continue to like dominant men and men seek dominance as a way of attracting women, does this mean that women are responsible for male aggression and violence?”  Discuss.


“Women care just as much about being dominant and thus being competitive as men do.  They just have different techniques for achieving dominance and competing, which are appropriate for their different goals.”  Discuss.


Would we have a more peaceful world if women were in charge of the politics of every country?  Would it be a more peaceful world if women were in charge of most of the countries of the world?  If so, how if at all might this be brought about?


If neither men nor women like women who seek to be dominant, how can feminist goals ever be achieved?  Why do so many women not like women who seek to be dominant whereas they do not mind men who seek to be dominant?  Or is this not true?  If it is true, how can one explain the fact that women seem to be more interested in electing female politicians than male politicians?  Or are they?


Within male groups, even among younger boys, why is it that toughness sometimes leads to high status?  Why is this the case even in schools in which most of the participants are the sons of college professors? 


If Rhoads is persuasive on the subject of the roots of male aggression, how can women successfully make their way in the world? 


Take a close look at Goldberg’s discussion of women in hierarchy?  Is it the case that they need special sensitivity and femininity in order to be successful?  Is it likely that of women shared power equally with men in the bureaucracy as Goldberg says “chaos

would result”?  (112)


“How can biology be controlling male aggression, and yet we end up with peer groups as different as those in Selby?” Discuss.


B.  Competitiveness and Title IX


Courts' interpretations of discrimination statutes such as Title IX often take plain statistical inequality as prima facie proof of discrimination.  Should women's relative level of interest be taken into account in Title IX cases?  What assumptions about biology and society underlie Title IX, and are these correct assumptions?  How, if at all, might the law change if it reflected different assumptions? Is Bush administration’s allowance of interest surveys as a means of showing compliance a good, bad, or neutral change in policy?


Does playing sports confer psychological advantages above and beyond good exercise and fun to women (Marcus) and men (Rhoads/Raspberry)?


Is there some tension between Raspberry's argument and McGrath's or not?  If so, who gets the better of the implicit debate?  Discuss.


Why do you think boys and men seem so preoccupied with violent computer games and war?  Why do you think they are more tolerant of risk? Are the evolutionary psychologists persuasive on these questions?  Is Hilary Lips persuasive?


If, on average, women are more interested in cooperation and men more interested in competition, is this a powerful argument against the justice of current interpretations of Title IX? Is the use of interest tests a more just system?


Why do you think the junior varsity lacrosse player at St. Paul’s videotaped himself having sex with a girl and showed it to his teammates?  Do you think that he would have been as “humiliated” as the girl was, if she had videotaped it and showed it to her classmates?  If not, why not?


Katz links what these boys did to problems of sexual assault and sexual harassment.  Is there a connection?  Discuss.  Did the St. Paul’s headmaster handle the situation in the appropriate way?


Should volunteers be able to contribute money in order to create a Hopewell football team?  Do school football teams create school spirit in a way that other sports teams do not?  If so why do you think this is? Why do you think there is so much more controversy about volunteers supplementing public moneys to create football opportunities as opposed to the relative lack of controversy when money goes to buy band uniforms, field trips, guest lecturers and so on? 


Is there something especially threatening about football and perhaps wrestling programs?  Is it connected to their “maleness”?  Is it connected to the “violence” that seems tied to these sports?


Do football and wrestling “water” male violence?  Or do they channel and mitigate it into relatively harmless directions?


Is it the case that “women’s attitudes toward sports are socially constructed and limited by discrimination and stereotypes?” If so, are women’s attitudes about sports also caused by deeper, perhaps biological, causes?  What does the evidence about children’s attitudes toward competitive sports suggest?


Is the “three part test” regulatory mechanism for enforcing Title IX reasonable? How does the Bush administration interest survey mechanism play into your thinking? Do you think the Bush interpretation meets the standards the courts have established?


Of what relevance is the fact that men have more interest in club and intramural sports than women do?  Brown University argues that women have much more interest in dance than men do, is this a problem society should address or does the greater prestige for sports versus dance suggest that this is like comparing apples and oranges?


More generally is there a problem if men and women develop dramatically different recreation tastes, for example, ballet versus combative, competitive sports?  Should Brown have been allowed to eliminate two male and two female teams in the way that they initially intended?


Should competitive dance and cheerleading “count” for Title IX purposes?


Is there an injustice when male “walk-on” athletes are not allowed to join teams because of a concern for Title IX gender proportionality?  Why are men apparently more willing to be “bench-sitters on teams”?  Is this fact reconcilable with men’s supposed greater interest in surpassing their competitors in prestigious positions?  Discuss.


Why do you think it is that men seem to be more interested in aggressive combative sports and women seem to be more interested in graceful, aesthetically pleasing sports?  Do these differences “go deep” or are they socially constructed?


Do you agree with Indiana University’s decision to fire Bobby Knight?  Does society expect greater displays of aggressiveness from men when they are in violent or competitive situations? Do you agree with Ledeen that Coach Knight’s aggressiveness and harsh discipline contributed to the success of his team?  Do you agree that he teaches hardwork, discipline, friendship and scholarship?  Did Knight get too little credit for how much he emphasized academics?  To what extent is Knight’s behavior a product of his biological and/or social conditioning?  Discuss.


Mike Lupica supports Bobby Knight’s firing, arguing that he was unable to change his aggressive behavior, despite the University’s threats to terminate him.  Lupica writes, “he wouldn’t change.  Because he can’t.”  To what extent can society attempt to change aggressive men like Bobby Knight?  And to what extent must society accept the aggressive tendancies as part of the nature of the male sex?  What is to be done about “bullies” like Bobby Knight?   


Should Texas Tech have hired Bobby Knight?


C.  Domestic Violence


Buss states that physical abuse often occurs because of "morbid jealousy" on the part of the abuser. Also, he finds that men are more distressed over sexual infidelity in a partner while women are more distressed about emotional infidelity. Do these findings suggest an evolutionary origin for jealousy and abuse?


Do the reports of women's violence toward men undermine arguments that men are more aggressive than women?  Does society "wink" at male violence against women, as feminists often charge, or at female violence against men?  Or does it do both or neither?  Is Leo right in claiming that (violent rhetorical male bashing by women) is culturally permitted, though the equivalent by men against females would not be? If so, why?


 Are commentators missing the mark when they don't partially blame males' innate aggressiveness for domestic abuse?  Would preventative measures change if they intentionally reflected biological explanations for men's abusiveness?


Does Satel persuade you that feminists are endangering the lives of battered women?  Should there be mandatory arrest and separation policies regardless of the spouse's wishes?  Is Gwinn more persuasive than Satel?


Does biology or socialization best explain why girls/women seem less tolerant of risk? less heroic?


Why are married women less likely to be victims of violence than divorced, separated or never married women?


If the leading cause of male spousal homicide is sexual jealousy, what, if any, policy conclusions might be drawn from this fact?  For example would it change the way we deal with domestic violence perpetrators and/or their spouses? 


Why are women’s fights so often over men or attacks on their sexual reputation?


“One can learn much about the sexual differences in human nature by just focusing on the competing phrases ‘fight or flight’ and ‘tend and befriend.’” Discuss.


How persuasive are the studies which link high testosterone levels with greater aggressiveness? 


You’ve read a description of the Diluth Method of intervention and also a critique of it.  What do you think of it?  For example, does society tell women not to be angry?  Is biology as well as a culture a partial explanation for women’s willingness to suppress their anger?  Would women in society be better off if women did not suppress their anger?  What do you think would be the results if women more often verbally expressed the anger that they felt? 


“Far more effective than the Diluth approach to preventing male violence against women would be a return to a culture that taught young boys that “only a coward fights with a girl.”  But feminists bent on creating real-world warrior women (e.g., Zenas) would never permit this.”  Discuss.


Several of the readings suggest what I have been independently told by one marital counselor who works with domestic abuse couples who want to stay together.  “The women say that they hit their husbands because ‘he won’t listen to me’; the husbands say that they hit their wives because ‘she won’t stop yapping and nagging at me’”  The Deluth Model for intervention says that nothing should be done about ehat the men think is provocative behavior.  Do you agree?  Would your answer depend on whether the wife wants to stay married to the husband or not?  Is a relevant consideration, as we will see in our communication week, women are on average more comfortable verbally?


Do men get a sense of power from dominating women?  If so, what is the source of this feeling?  What can/should be done about it?


Do women get pleasure from dominating men?  Are they frequently successful?  Do they frequently get any pleasure from being dominated by men?  Do men frequently get pleasure from being dominated by women?  Discuss. 


Is the male tendency to think in terms of hierarchy inevitable or should it be unpacked root and branch?  Is it a cultural construct or part of man’s evolved psychology?  Should the goal be to root out hierarchical striving or to keep it in bounds and to keep it nonviolent?  Discuss.


Is psychological abuse (Pear and Flowers p 15 vs. Satel) a serious problem?  Is it defined too broadly by feminists?


Is there a root cause of domestic violence and if so, what is it?  Which intervention approaches do you find most promising or how would you proceed in this area?


Week 5 - Nurturing Questions


A.  Theory and Evidence


How strong do you think that Frodi and Lamb’s implicit critique of Rhoads’ argument is?  Discuss.


How important, if at all, is biology in explaing why women are more attracted to infants?  Discuss.


What should be the stance of feminists with regards to women’s “nurturing instinct”?  If it exists does it inevitably mean that women will not have equal power to men in the world outside the family?  Does women’s nurturing work inevitably make them more dependant than men on society?  Does it make them more dependant on men than men are on women?  If so, discuss the implications of these facts.


Is the “mommy track” a pro-women innovation?  Would you give the same answer about a parental track?  Discuss. 


Is it best for women to have a cultural norm that suggests that pregnancy and its aftermath should not slow them down in advancement of their careers or is it better to have a cultural norm which suggests that it should slow them down, that they are in the midst of important work of its own?  Discuss.


Is mom best for babies?  Do the findings described in the Witze article bear on this question? How much? Discuss.


Are differences in helping and nurturing behavior best explained by biological or socialization theories?  How persuasive is Eagly and Crowley's social roles explanation of the gender differences on helping behavior?


Compare Lips versus Blum and Crenshaw on the extent of and explanation for sex differences in nurturing.


Is there a difference between ascribing the differences in nurturing behavior to biology and to evolution, or are they one and the same?  Do you find the evolutionary arguments of Wayne Babchuck et. al. satisfying? 


Is there tension between Garment's discussion of the pull of maternity for Governor Kunin and McDermott's rhapsodies about motherhood on the one hand and Cowan, Cowan and Kerig's findings that after babies arrive wives (and husbands) are unhappy with the family division of labor and less happy with their marriages?


Is there a debate between Blum, Crenshaw, Garment, Glusker and McDermott on the one hand and Shields and Rollin on the other?  What are the issues?  How deep goes the desire of the average woman to give birth and care for children?


Consider Rivka Palatnick’s article on “Why Men Don’t Rear Children: A Power Analysis.”  Is it more true that biology or society assigns to women a childrearing function?  Discuss.


Why do you think McDermott (and her contemporaries) changed so after having children?  Can her feelings be explained by socialization?  What does this say about the prospect for full equality in the workforce?  How should this impact day care and family leave policies?


Why, after birth, are wives increasingly likely to think that "child care should be done almost entirely by parents" (Cowan 170) while husbands are more sure that other child care resources are acceptable?


Do Cowan et. al. convince you that bad marriages mean fathers are tough on girls but not on boys?  And to a lesser extent mothers are tough on boys and girls?  If so, what do you make of this finding?


Why are families more likely to separate if the first born is a girl?  Why do families seem to have another child more quickly if the first is a girl?


Does “Amazing Amy” do more good than harm?  Why are boys not interested in playing with Amazing Amy? Discuss. 


Consider Rollins’ views, as well as Huffman’s experience, and the findings of the Motherhood Study. Do women need babies? To what extent is the “motherhood myth” based in reality? Does society push women toward motherhood? Should it?


What role should fathers play in nurturing their children? Should society encourage men to become Mr. Moms? Is it more important to celebrate what men already do or to push them to take on new responsibilities?


Discuss with reference to Eberstadt, how if at all does this article change our way of thinking about “nurturning the young”?


B. Breastfeeding


If, as one researcher says in the Washington Post, (June Reinisch) “the evidence is growing that breastfeeding is among the most important lifelong benefits a mother can give to her child” what does this mean for womens choices about career and family?  How should women react?  How should their doctors go about their business?  Should employers’ policies with respect to mothers with young children change?


How important do you think the findings with respect to breastfeeding as a way to lessen the risk of breast cancer are?  Do you think that these findings are likely to affect womens’ fertility and breastfeeding decisions?  In what way?  Discuss.


How significant is NOW’s accommodation and support of “The New Mother Breastfeeding Promotion and Protection Bill”?


Where do you come out on the debate precipitated by Abigail Trafford’s article “What’s Good for the Baby may Guilt Trip the Mother”?


C.  Child Custody


Do you support a best interests of the child standard in custody cases?  Alternatively, would you support the tender years doctrine which would ordinarily grant wives custody of young children?  Would you support it for children under one year when the mother is breast feeding?


Would a preference for the primary care-giving parent be less objectionable than a preference for custody by mothers?


Richard Neely suggests that the indeterminacy of the "best interests of the child" standard allows men to threaten a child custody fight unless women take less in child support.  Why don't women just refuse custody unless adequate child support is given?


How, if at all, should Rossi's finding that sons of solo mothers benefit with the entry of a stepfather and daughters of solo fathers benefit with the entry of a stepmother impact child-custody law? 


What assumptions about women's and men's natures underlie the tender years doctrine?  Is generic "mothering" more important than a particular mother, as Judge Watts claimed?  How might an ideal child custody standard reconcile the general trend toward strictly egalitarian law with the strong evidence of women's greater roles (and perhaps interests and talents) in caretaking?


Is biological determinism--the view that biology determines social roles--a proper framework for legal and governmental policy?  What do you think of Stephanie Shields' argument that such determinism merely--and wrongly--serves to justify social roles without allowing for human preferences and political decisions to alter those roles?


D.  Day Care


Is day care a problem for children? If so, what is the answer (e.g. Greenspan's 4/3 solution)?


Should government (1) provide more funds for daycare; (2) aid stay-at-home parents as much as families in which no parent stays home; or (3) give a preference to stay-at-home parents?  Explain your reasoning.


Are “family friendly” work schedules an answer to the day care dilemna? What kind of arrangement might be most helpful? Should mothers and fathers be encouraged to rearrange their work schedules equally? Should policy make it easier to combine work and parenting or should it focus on encouraging mothers to parent fulltime? Are these goals mutually exclusive?


Does quantity count in daycare?  What do you make of the controversy about the way the recent behavioral and cognitive results on the effect of daycare have been promulgated and interpreted?


Why does Audry Fisch entitle her article “Where’s Poppa?”  Where do you think he is?  Why do you think he is there?  Is it a problem that he is there?  How different are the policy recommendations that the childcare researchers come to as a result of their work?  How do you explain what differences there are?


Eons ago, mothers used to take their babies to work, using a sling while they picked berries.  Marjorie Williams seems to think that the modern trend toward bringing infants into the workplace is not the road to a more sensible work-family balance today.  Do you agree? Discuss.


How worrisome is the research on the effects of daycare for children’s bodily health, behavior and cognition? Consider the evidence presented in both the book chapter and the articles.  Should our culture, our policy, be doing more to discourage mothers with infants and toddlers from working full time?  Should we be subsidizing daycare more heavily?  If yes, should subsidies go to the middle class as well as low-income Americans?


Is Hrdy correct in her belief that professional women simply face “irreconcilable dilemmas” with regard to their choices on career and mothering?  Discuss.


Is Rhoads right that “quality daycare is a chimera?”


Does mothers’ guilt about being away from a child have a biological basis?  Or is it simply socially constructed?  Discuss.


Are you persuaded that fathers, as compared to mothers, have an easier time doing without substantial day-to-day contact with their young children?  If so, why do you think this is?


The vast majority of mothers seem to want to spend less time at work and more time with their children.  Why does it seem to hard to bring this about?  Discuss.


Rhoads seems to think that mothers are “delighted to learn that something they like to do and do better than anyone else is important to the well-being of their children and thus to society more broadly.” Should they be?  If so, why aren’t they?  Discuss.


Is the project to create a more androgynous family a misogynist one?  Discuss.


“Rhoads, Lewis et al. and other biologically inclined authors seem to suggest that if women are to be good mothers, they will pretty much have to turn their lives over to their young children.  There has to be some sort of rule of reason.  Otherwise the trends in the West which suggest we are not reproducing ourselves will get dramatically worse.”  Discuss.


Week 6 - Conversational Styles Questions


Why do groups of girls dislike boastful or even self-confident girls?  Why are their groups less hierarchical than boys' groups?  Do boys "fight to be friends (236-240)?"  If so, why?  Why do women pay more attention to the feelings of their listeners?  Is a woman's style more polite and civilized?  Why are women criticized when they use a male style?


Does a woman's gentle style (41, 48, 49, but 125) lead her to get less credit for her accomplishments?  Is there tension between this idea and the suggestion that women receive more praise than men? (121)


Why does a male style not work for women? (122-129)  Did the female military officer showing off muscles in a bikini find trouble because she violated "expectations for how a woman should be"? (122)


How easy would it be for women (or men) to change their communication styles? Would it be a good idea? (101, 280)


Does the wide range of clothing and makeup styles that women have "mark" (107-114) them in unfair ways?  Is there a middle ground approach for women which would leave them unmarked (e.g. attractive, below-the-knee suit, a little make-up)?  Would women be less likely to complain if they all wore nearly identical gray and blue suits while men were choosing from a wide array of colorful outfits?  Are women more interested in clothes?  If so, why?


Is there a tension between Tannen's seeming defense of stereotypes (312-13) at the end of her book and her complaints about those that "mark" women as, for example, nurse not doctor and secretary not manager?  Discuss.


Is the addressing of professional women by their first names sometimes a sign of friendliness or approachability, as Tannen thinks, or is it almost always a sign of lack of respect as many women professionals think (208-9)? Why do women tend to compete relatively more for connection whereas men compete more for advancement? (e.g. 211-212)


Why do women at work mix business talk with talk about their personal lives while men mix business with banter about sports or politics?  Why do men tease or put down people they like?


Why are women more likely to do "troubles talk(71)? " Why do men think an expression of trouble is a request to solve the problem?  How pervasive are these sex differences?


Tannen says men often say they are wrong or have gone too far by teasing or doing something to make amends rather than giving an apology or otherwise admitting error.  If women realized that this was a male way of making amends could they come to appreciate and accept the male style (90-91)?


Why in mixed groups do women give more "silent applause"? (120)


In play groups and meetings why do boys of 30 months of age and men tend to ignore the suggestions of girls and women?  Can this pattern be changed (280, 288-9)?  Should it be?  If so, how?


In Why Men Rule, Steven Goldberg argued that whenever a hierarchy is present, men will be biologically driven to dominate it.  Can the various conversational strategies Deborah Tannen describes be viewed in this light?  What are the various strategies women and men employ to control social situations?  Do you think this is rooted in biology, or is it simply a matter of evolving cultural styles?


Tannen says that generalizing is the heart of science yet in discussions of sex roles and gender attempts to generalize often cause ill will because they "reinforce stereotypes" (311-17).  Why is generalizing so controversial in this area?  How persuasive is her explanation of the source of the differences between men and women in conversational style (315-16, 14-15)?    Will her research and suggestions lead to men and women speaking more alike or more differently (312-315)?  Is her discussion at 211-212 relevant to this issue?  Does the Brown article on genes and female intuition suggest that nature may have something to do with women's greater sensitivity to the feelings of others?


Why is it easier to talk about the gender gap in voting than in aggression or nurturing or tolerance for risk?  Does focusing on significant differences that have been found between most men and most women make it easier or harder for the sexes to live well together?


Ehrenreich argues that men don't much like to talk, except as competition, and will talk only if they can set the terms.  Does this seem true?  If so, why is it true?


Ehrenreich suggests that good talk within the political feminist movement raised women's expectations of good conversation, but Goodman complains that women don't participate much in talk radio's talk about politics.  Instead, she says, they focus on the personal on talk TV.  Discuss.


With reference to the California State creative writing exercise, do women read literature more or less like that Lisa wants to write?  Do men read literature like Dave wants to write?  If so, why?


Anne Roipe's book review quotes Tannen critics who say she neglects power and position, "puts the burden of change on the backs of women," "glorifies existing stereotypes," and "dictates that all women should behave in a certain way."  Discuss these criticisms.


Tannen advocates conversation training for corporate America.  What might such training sessions involve?  How can women and men better understand each other?  Or is the chasm unbridgeable?  What would corporate structures that understood and fully exploited men's and women's varying conversational styles look like?  What strategies might be employed to increase women's input?  Should women adapt their conversational styles to the styles prevalent in institutions largely governed by men?  Can they do this while avoiding the pejorative terms often associated with authoritative women?  What, if any, role might law and government play?


Is there a "better" conversational style?  What improvements do you think both women and men could make?  Are men too competitive and impersonal?  Reflect on your own conversational style.  Does it match Tannen's generalizations?  What do you like and dislike about your own style?


Imagine you are a senior manager at a firm.  What strategies would you employ to elicit the most input from and assign the most credit to deserving employees?


Why do many modern women object to an inclusive understanding of the word 'mankind' while calling each other 'guys'?  Would either 'ladies,' 'gals,' or 'honeys' be an improvement?


A. Men and Women in Prison


Should the staff try to communicate more with the prisoners in female prisons? Should the staff be trained to expect "a wider range of emotions" when talking to female inmates?


Should prison managers be taught that female prisoners need "a different style of management," including more communication skills on the part of guards, active listening, and awareness of "emotional dynamics"?


Why do you think that “men’s prisons develop into subcultures based on hierarchies of power and coercion” while women’s prisons “tend to develop subcultures which revolve around make-believe families and intense friendships” (Rische, 49)?


In training guards, should there be less emphasis on security and custody in female prisons, and more on negotiating and listening skills? Should there be more emphasis on parenting in female prisons if female prisoners seem to take their children and parental responsibilities more seriously?


Should sex-segregated prisons be illegal? Should public policy encourage male guards for male prisoners and female guards for female prisoners? Should female guards be able to conduct full-body searches of male prisoners, but male guards be forbidden from conducting full-body searches of female prisoners? More generally, should there be more emphasis on privacy issues and sexual misconduct and appropriate and inappropriate touching when training male guards in female prisons than when training female guards in male prisons? If, as some of the literature shows, women prisoners cause less problems when they are given more privacy and given more property than male prisoners do, is it appropriate for female prisoners to be granted more privacy, and allowed to have more personal property? Could it be argued persuasively that males actually need more privacy so as to avoid violence from other prisoners?


How should vocational training be handled? Since there are fewer female prisoners, and if prisoners are to be kept somewhere near their homes, the prisons they are in will usually be much smaller. Is it acceptable for these smaller prisons to have a significantly smaller range of training options than male prisoners have at their prisons? Would it be discrimination if there were fewer services provided to female prisoners, or could one argue that the discrimination would occur if the same number of options were available to female prisoners, and thus significantly more dollars were spent per prisoner on female traning than on male training? Consider p. 191 of Rasche. Should the vocational preferences of female and male prisoners be accepted as given, or should public policy lean against them so as to encourage a non-traditional approach to occupational training. Should more attention be given to improving conditions in male prisons or in female prisons? Consider not just the fact of greater vocational training opportunities for men, but also the fact that (Rasche, p. 54 bottom statement) male prisons are more "harsh and depriving" than female prisons are.


Do you approve of the Washington area corrections officials treating female juvenile delinquents differently than male juvenile delinquents (Klein)?


Is there a way to get male guards to stop sexually abusing female prisoners? What should be done to effectively address the problem while also maintaining prison discipline? Should we consider all female guards in female prisons and all male guards in male prisons?


Week 7 - Courtship, Dating, Hooking Up & Cohabitation


A. Theory


Buss states, "men have lower thresholds than women for reading in sexual interest," and "women rate sexual aggression on average...to be close to the 7.00 maximum of distress."  If these statements are true, should women make more concerted efforts to limit their friendliness, or perceived flirtatiousness, around men they find sexually undesirable?


Is marriage an unnatural and unstable state for humans?


Do you think Buss' explanation of the evolutionary forces which lead to sexual harassment and date rape is credible?


How convincing is Stanley’s argument about sex differences in commitment? What do you make of the findings about men seeing marriage as more important than women do?

What are the important differences between marriage and cohabitation?  Is cohabitation a good way to test a mate's compatibility and commitment?


Why is The Rules a national bestseller?  What are the possible benefits and downfalls for men and women if "The Rules" are followed?  When a woman becomes very interested in a man she has just started dating, in what sense, if at all, is he an "adversary" (Ch. 6)?


Do "The Rules" work?  Would they help combat the predatory sexual scene that Anderson and Stern paint in Week 2?


B. Policy and Culture


Does Dave Barry get dating about right?


Is the tendency for men to be sexually aggressive overstated?  Will it become more socially acceptable for women to be sexually aggressive and for men to demonstrate sensitivity? If so, will the differences between the sexual behavior of the sexes begin to disappear?


1. Sexual Harassment


Do most women like to be complimented on their appearance?  Whistled at (Muggeridge)?  Have men "talk to" their breasts? (Barry)  Where does one draw the line between flattering a member of the opposite sex and sexually harassing him or her?  What sort of policies can protect men and women from unwanted behavior?


Did Bernice Harris sexually harass Christopher Held?  Would Held have harassed Harris if he had behaved as she did?


How much do women differ in their judgments about what they find offensive?


Are ambiguous cues in courtship inevitable?  Are (Browne 198) women in part responsible for sexual harassment if they send ambiguous signals?  Is it a mitigating factor if the man genuinely thought the women would be interested in a sexual come on or “well intentioned compliment?”


Should sensitive women be protected if it means men and some women lose the pleasures of a bawdy joke?


Should the law use a reasonable woman or a reasonable person standard?  What, if any, changes in sexual harassment law would you support?


Would Miss Manners' or Mencimer's suggestions help prevent sexual harassment?


3. The Sexual Revolution


Has "the reign of feminism" made "women become unimportant, indeed nonessential," as some have suggested?  Some critics have instead said it is men who have been made nonessential by feminism.  Is this view more persuasive?  Has feminism harmed both sexes?  Has it helped one or both?


Buss says men like casual sex more and women like an investment of resources as a sign of commitment before sex.  Fillion says women often sleep with men for no investment (often they pay for or split the date's expense).  Does this suggest the sexual revolution satisfies male needs more than female? 


Fillion says studies show young men feel pressured to have sex more than young women.  How should we understand this data? 


Is Fillion saying (199) that there would be less female promiscuity if there were more attention to encouraging women to emphasize their desires and pleasures? Are you persuaded?


What are some of the positive and negative results of the sexual revolution for women?  For men?  Has the sexual revolution made our society too tolerant?  Or is Levine right to argue that women especially should celebrate still further loosening of customs which restrict their sexual expression?


Compare Fillion who says when a woman sleeps with a man for the first time she should be ready to articulate her sexual desires (e.g. "touch me here") (199) and The Rules, which says avoid "lengthy seminars about your needs during sex" (82).  Who is more right?  Can a woman who has slept with a man be as blasé afterwords at the Rules seems to recommend.  How do you think her partner would react if this advice were followed?


Rissman and Schwartz seem to suggest that young women have confidence and power in sexual relations these days but the Rhoads and UVA RA readings suggest that men call the shots more than ever before.  What is really going on?  Does it depend on the age of the women?  Do young women tire of casual sex in a way that young men do not? 


Compare the dating scene of the fifies to the mating scene today?  Has the sexual revolution benefited males, females, both or neither?  Does it keep men from having to grow up?  Did the romantic music of the fifties encourage young men and women to think long term?  Is it in their interest to think long term?


Career Women


How do you interpret the phenomenon of successful career women expressing anxiety over their relationships with men, and a desire to be married? Does this suggest that the traits adaptive for career life are not adaptive for domestic life? Does it suggest that women value success in personal relationships more than success in careers?


Schiffren and the Elle magazine interview present contrasting views of life as a young, single woman. Who do you think is right? Should such women aspire to be married?


Do men prefer professionally ambitious women or women in support oriented positions? Do men who choose career women do so for financial benefit? How seriously should women take these concerns when making decisions about their professional and personal lives?


Week 8 - Marriage Questions


RE. Thompson and Walker.  Why do men and women have such different understandings of what makes for a good marriage?  Why are women more sensitive to the nuances within a marriage?  Do they make more of an effort to please?  If so, why?  Why are men so much less likely to talk and share emotions with their spouses?


Explore the ways that husbands and wives do housework.  Why do women who make more than their husbands "cater to their husbands' whims" rather than demand "a fair distribution of labor at home" (Thompson and Walker 857)?  Are Thompson and Walker saying that wives do the lion's share of housework because it pleases their husbands and makes for happy marriages?  Is this sensible if (Barnett et. al.) married women can't be happy if their marriages are not happy?  Why do men who do more solo child care love their wives less (859)?  Why do women who have lower standards for housework get more help from their husbands?


Explore the differences in roles and satisfaction between lower class and middle class women in the wake of the arrival of a baby (Thompson and Walker 863).  Why do women tend to "view men's minimal help with child care as substantial" (864)?


Does it make sense that men are more powerful in marriage but women are more likely to confront disagreeable issues (849 and Goleman, 140-1)?  Consider in this regard Tannen's (You Just......, 260) finding that women attempt to "preserve intimacy by avoiding conflict"? (294)  Consider also the fact that women seem to suffer more physically in the aftermath of an argument (Okie excerpts from the Post, 12/10/96)


What differences are there in the way that men and women look at their work outside the home and at their spouse's work outside the home?  Why do economically successful men resent the time their wives spend working outside the home?


How can one explain the differences between women/girls and men/boys ways of interacting and their subjects of conversation (Tannen)?  Is man's desire to be a "protector" a source of tension in marriages (288-92)?


If Goleman is right about flooding and the effects of stonewalling on men and women, how should spouses' discussions/arguments proceed (140-1)?  Would marriages work better if women expected less emotional connection from their husbands and looked to female friends for such bonding or would men and marriages benefit if men were induced to open up more (Tannen)?  If the latter how could this be brought about?


In light of the Booth/Dabbs findings should women try to get testosterone readings for men they are considering marrying?




What do the differences in men's and women's health say about sex differences, if anything?  Should any social or public policies spring from these findings?  For example, should educated wives with unsupportive bosses (and their families) be made aware of the likely risk to husbands?  Should wives quit?  Husbands learn to be less angry or protective?  Why do stay at home dads have more heart disease than hard chargers at the office?


What do you make of the findings on power/dominance and marital satisfaction?  In particular why do you think that wife dominance in a marriage is so much more problematic than husband dominance?  Why should wives be more unhappy in wife-dominant marriages than husbands are ( Weisfeld et. al., 140)?


Weisfeld downplays the importance of male control of resources.  Considering Buss’ discussion of their importance in the sexuality week reading, does this show a significant problem with evolutionary approaches?


Is women's relative lack of power in marriage (and the world?) connected to their greater capacity for attachment (Blum, 217, Okie, Thompson, et. al.)?  Or is Cancian correct in her suggestion that "feminization of love persists because it serves the interests of the ruling classes" (262).  If nature is the source of women's greater capacity for attachment has nature done women wrong?  If societal forces are at the root of women's greater emphasis on attachment, has society done women wrong?  Or, regardless of its source, should women feel blessed to have a greater capacity for attachment?


In light of the dynamics of marriages presented in your reading, why is it that women are more interested in getting married than men are, especially since men seem to benefit relatively more from marriage?



Re: Barnett and Baruch.  Why do men who do more at-home work seem to resent it (129)?  Are the authors persuasive in their view that the traditional husband's role is one of low demands and high control whereas for wives it is high demands and low control?


Does marriage improve women's sense of well being?  Does being a mother?  Compare Barnett and Baruch with the Pew poll of women and consider the nurturing reading done earlier.


Barnett and Baruch say that "the role of paid employee" is central for the psychological well being of women (134) but also say that, for women, "dissatisfaction in the marital role cannot be compensated for by satisfaction in any other role (136)."  Are these views reconcilable? 


Compare the Pew poll findings with Barnett's work.  Consider, also in this regard the findings on determinants of husbands' satisfaction in marriage and wives' reactions to husbands' satisfaction or lack thereof.


Re. Pew poll--Are women correct in their belief (1) that "the ideal setting for child rearing is one in which the mother is home full time."


Goleman says men take longer to recover physiologically from "flooding," but Okie suggests that wives are more vulnerable physiologically after an argument.  Is there a way to reconcile these two discussions?




Do Glenn et. al. convince you that marriage is good for men, women, and society?  Should we adopt some of the attitude changes and policies Waite discusses so as to promote marriage, e.g. stigma, Medicaid, AFDC, ending tax code marriage penalty? 


Why are so many people not marrying these days?  Is cohabitation a problem?  If so is it more of a problem if there are children?


Should we adopt Carlson and Blankenhorn's tax proposal as a way of encouraging marriage?  Should the tax credit for parents who use day care be extended to parents who stay home to care for their own children, as Blankenhorn and Carlson advocate?


Should the government be promoting marriage (i.e., “marriage education”)? 


Does it make more sense for feminists to advocate policies that will keep marriages and families together, or to advocate policies that enhance women's autonomy? Are the two sometimes mutually exclusive? Is one or the other always better for women?




Is Nock and Brinig's finding surprising (p. 12) that marriages have the lowest risk of breakup when men see the division of labor as "very unfair" to their wives? Does this mean that husbands want their wives to work too hard?


What do you make of the finding (Nock and Brinig p. 13) that marriages are strengthened when spouses participate in "men's work" and hurt when spouses participate in "women's work"? Is "men's work" more fun or desirable or could it be that society considers it more important?


Nock and Brinig say that "stable marriages may not be experienced as fair marriages." What do you think about this?


Discuss the Browne book on marriage.


Should men in marriages do half the childcare and housework?  If so, how can this be brought about? 


With reference to Deutsch, what seems to be the secret to getting men to do half the housework and child care?  Do these women’s marriages seem happy?  Is the Weisfeld article relevant?


Should women whose husbands do much less than half the housework behave like Mainardi or Roback?  What do you think is the likely result of using either model for marriages and their stability and for male and female happiness and/or career fulfillment? 


If women, on average, care more about a clean house than men do should they do more than half the housework as a matter of justice (consider Roback, 129).


Goldberg says that men are fundamentally different and that women used to know this but modern ideology now blinds them from seeing this truth.  Discuss.  Is it true that men are attracted to feminine women and indifferent to a woman's worldly success?


Discuss Goldberg's view that many men will be unwilling to form families if "being 'the man of the family' means nothing special."


Goldberg reverses a frequent feminist position by arguing that socialization convinces women that positions of power are more important than giving birth and raising those who will continue the species.  Discuss.


What do you make of the phenomenon of the “Sex Starved Marriage?’  Is this a problem?  If so what is it’s source?           


Compare Goldberg with Schwartz.  Are there any points of agreement?  Is androgyny or peer marriage desirable and/or likely?  Consider the evidence given in the week's reading, and the likely views of men and women.


“The Ancestory of Ozzie and Harriet” refers to sociologists’ assumption that current dual earner couples represent a return to a pre-industrial model. Is the evidence in this piece an effective counter to this assumption? To what extent is the homemaker-wage earner marriage a product of industrialization? What are the implications of the consistencies and inconsistencies in marital role patterns over time?



Is Pat Mainardi or Jennifer Roback Morse the wiser woman? Did Roback Morse have "a pretty big character flaw" (p.144) before her transformation or is she a beaten woman now? Has Roback Morse given up too much for a loving and harmonious family?


Does the Belsky/Lang research suggest that non-traditional women who have children will have a harder time having happy marriages?  Or that they better take the advice of Deutsch? 


The Mundy article suggests that it is husbands not wives who decide to put off marriage and having babies (perhaps they also encourage the wives to keep working and not stay home with the baby?)  How often do you think this is the case?


Does the Washington/ Post Kaiser poll data suggest that we really want to go back to 1950s gender roles and that women want to go back even more than men?  What is going on here?  How do you interpret these results? Contrast with the findings about the closing housework gap.


Week 9  Divorce



Why do men decide that they want a divorce? Why do women decide that they do?  Discuss.


Would wider dissemination of the information about the more accurate, lower divorce rates have an impact on American attitudes toward marriage and divorce? Would it give people more confidence to stick out difficult marriages?


To what extent do you think changing public attitudes about traditional sex-roles have contributed to the increase in divorce rates?  According to theories of evolutionary biology, men put less emphasis on long term relationships with the opposite sex.  Why, then, do you think they consider getting divorced less often than women do?  Data shows that women are more likely to file for divorce earlier in the marriage.  Why do you think this is?  Do you agree with Betzig's analysis of divorce using theories of evolutionary biology?  Compare to Reissman and Blumstein/Schwartz.


The Dutch study of divorce shows a correlation between feminist leanings and divorce. Do you believe that feminist attitudes contribute to a higher divorce rate? Why or why not? Should efforts be made to discourage feminist attitudes on these grounds?


McGue and Lykken—If, as McGue and Lykken suggest, genetic factors represent an important influence on divorce risk, are we powerless as a society to reduce future divorce rates?


Should women who wish to guard against divorce check out their prospective groom’s  testosterone levels?  The divorce records of their parents and brothers?


Riessman—Consider Riessman's findings on emotional and physical intimacy, on expectations about work in and out of the home, and on the costs of women's caring.  Do the differences grow out of deep seated sex differences or differing socializations?  Would a systematic study of sex differences in schools make successful marriage more or less likely?  Would it make divorce more or less likely?  Why do you think women view life after divorce more positively than men?  [Do you think this would be true ten years after the divorce as well?]  Is this finding that women view life more positively after divorce than men do reconcilable with women's greater depression?  Why are men more likely  than women to feel like failures when their marriages don't succeed?  Discuss the different types of "freedom" that men and women feel following divorce.



American Attitudes Toward Divorce—

Does the community have a responsibility to prevent divorce?  In Zinmeiser’s article fo you think Kevin should be condemned?  Should his former boss be condemned? 


What organizations could take an interest in citizens' family affairs?  Do you think society is more forgiving of women who divorce their husbands than vice versa? 


Is the "idealizing" of the institution of marriage one of the reasons there are so many divorces, as Talbot states?


Does Talbot's statement "love matches are inherently wobblier than arranged marriages" ring true?


Are the studies described in the Popenoe and other articles, showing long-term effects on the children of divorce, convincing?


The Role of Government

Should divorce be easier or harder to obtain in this country?  What do you make of the Miami divorce bus? 


Should marriage be easier or harder to enter into in this country?


Should people be required to take a marriage-education course before they can get a marriage license?  Should these courses include compatibility questionnaires? Should wives check prospective mates' testosterone levels?  What is the proper role of government in dealing with increasing divorce rates?  What sort of legislation, if any, would you enact as a legislator to preserve modern marriages?


Were you surprised by the research findings reported in the Institute of American Values piece?  Are there policy implications that can be drawn from the research?  Is the research “flawed?”


Is McManus persuasive in his belief that many marriages which now end up in divorce can and should be saved?  Should policy for marriages with minor children be different than policy for other marriages?  Is it better that the government or charitable/church organizations strive to curb divorce or is a reasonable partnership desirable and possible?


What do you make of the findings in "More Good News About Divorce?"  Should there be more joint custody arrangements in the wake of divorce? 



Week 10— Cognition Questions


Why does Baron-Cohen choose to use systematizing and empathizing rather than the traditional people versus things distinction between women and men? Which do you think is a more useful distinction? What are the implications of the clustering of personality traits and particular abilities that Baron-Cohen describes?


How significant do you find the sex differences in cognition?  Evaluate the separate claims for biologically based sex differences. 


What do you think of Doreen Kimura's supposition that sex differences in cognitive talents may be rooted in evolutionary pressures?  What's the evolutionary principle underlying this claim? 


Evaluate this statement from Lubinski and Benbow (702):  "Due to their more evenly distributed preferences and abilities, the career choices of mathematically gifted females and the amount of time they devote to scientific careers will be less distinguished than their male counterparts."  Are they persuasive?  If so should we accept this status quo (Consider Pool pp. 246-7)?  If not what should we do about it?


Diane McGuinness says "Some learning skills are sex-related" and "any attempt at remediation should begin by understanding the nature of certain sex-specific aptitudes(28)."  What do you think?  What might an education system that incorporated male / female differences look like?  For example, should remedial reading populations be identified based on slow learning compared to others of the same sex?  Should boys having difficulty reading be encouraged to read aloud and be in structured classrooms (116)?  You might consider Pool's examples (244-5) as well as McGuinness'.   


Pool (p. 244) suggests that women might be encouraged to use a spatial approach to math before encountering geometry whereas McGuinness (28) seems to approve of an approach that emphasizes using a more verbal approach to teaching girls algebra.  Discuss.


How much of our educational attention should be devoted to bringing boys' reading up to girls' levels and girls' mathematics up to boys' levels?  Does it depend on the level of education being considered?  Would we be better off letting everyone do what they are good at and are inclined toward once a bare minimum of competency is achieved by all?  Given where we are now, should education for boys or for girls get more emphasis?  Is it more important to do something about the relative absence of girls in advanced math and science or about the relatively large numbers of boys who cannot read or write and the relatively small proportion of males going on to college? 


How would you explain the following result of the research of Lani Guinier and colleagues: "despite having virtually identical criteria upon entering law school, women do not perform as well in law school?" Are Guinier's explanations plausible -- that women are disadvantaged by their less competitive attitudes and their difficulties with speaking in class? What do you make of BeVier's contrasting explanation of the performance discrepancy -- that female law students value life options and roles other than having a career in law? What about BeVier's assertions regarding the gender difference in competition style? Is it true that women "tend to try to get to the front of the line in more subtle ways, to disguise rather than celebrate their competitive instincts"?


Do you agree with the College Board's decision to modify the PSAT in order to qualify more females for the National Merit Scholarship?


Are Sax’s arguments in favor of single sex education convincing? If you had a daughter, would you want her to attend a single sex school? A son?


Can teachers ameliorate the problems each gender faces in education by changing their classrooms and teaching styles? Or would single-sex education be helpful in addressing these problems?  Should the Bush administration’s efforts to encourage more experimentation with single sex education be supported or opposed?




Do you think women's conversation style will become more like that of men as more women become businesswomen and executives?


Is women's willingness to work longer for less pay better explained by biological or sociological theories?  If women are less likely to demand higher pay than men, are employers still responsible for eliminating gender gaps in salaries among their employees?


Should schools, the government, and the community take steps to encourage women to choose jobs that are on the higher end of the pay scale?  Is it worrisome that, according to the Washington Post article, women work fewer hours than men?  Is this a sign that men should take on more responsibility at home?


The Dabbs and Purifoy articles suggest that occupation choice and achievement are linked to heritable hormone levels.  Should this be considered as part of the discussion over inequality in the workplace?


Who gets the better of the debate between biologically inclined researchers, Kimura or Hines?


Are there some types of work, as Walter suggests, to which men are better suited? Women? Should employers be allowed to take gender into account in these cases? Does it matter if public safety is an issue?


Is Williams saying that women are not entitled to their time off to enjoy their young children (106,109)?  Compare Williams' discussion of mothering small children to Browne.  Why is Williams led to the conclusion that only a complete restructuring of wage labor can solve the problems she identifies.  How significant are the problems she identifies and how feasible are her suggested remedies?  Will they solve the problems she identifies if enacted? 


How persuasive is Williams' attack on gender stereotypes ( 112-14)?  Does "domesticity's hegemonic role" enlist women "in their own oppression(115)?"


Should our policies regarding the workplace be based solely on theories of "sameness," or should we also consider arguments of "choice," socialization, and biology? 


Compare and evaluate Williams and Browne on occupational segregation and the glass ceiling. 


Does Browne convince you that there are benign explanations for occupational segregation?


Who gets the better of the battle of the Darwinians—Kingsley Browne or Rosalind Arden?


Do you agree with Deborah Rhode's assertion that men and women fail to perceive a gender bias in the workplace that nevertheless does exist? Is there truth to her statement that the unequal division of household labor impairs women's career life and reflects "injustice" (p. 142, bottom)?


Why do managers who profess to be non-gender biased still rate male applicants more highly than female applicants (see Rhode, p. 146 and p. 145, bottom)?


If men place a higher relative priority on career relative to family is it just that they achieve more career success?


Should the state seek to interfere with patterns of job sorting by sex?


Why is there still so much sex-segregation in vocational education programs?


The following jobs are sex segregated—personnel officer, brain surgeon, auto mechanic, clothing apparel sales, Navy pilot, carpenter, nurse.  List reasons that you consider benign and non-benign for this sex segregation.  Why have lawyers become more balanced between the sexes, whereas nurses and brain surgeons have not?  Consider other occupations that are sex segregated and discuss whether there is biological or evolutionary evidence which might predict such segregation.


Do you agree with the court's decision in the Sears case?  Discuss.


Should women mimic the mannerisms that men use in order to get promoted?


Does "the glass ceiling" exist?  If so, does Tannen understand why it does?  If so, what can be done to eliminate it?


Morris reports on a poll that shows that 87% of female business managers had made or were considering making a major change in their lives.  One third frequently felt depressed.  Forty percent felt trapped (65) How should we understand these findings?  Would male managers report similar numbers?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             


Why do you think women are less represented on op-ed pages than men? Are editors discriminatory in selecting columnists? Is there a sex difference in preferences for contributing in this forum? What aspects of op-ed writing might appeal to women more than men? Is any difference in preference attributable to socialization? How might biology play into a difference as well?


Should women serve in combat?  Should men and women have different physical training standards?  Should their training be segregated?


How persuasive are the following arguments against gender integration of the military: physical strength differences, "male bonding," sexual attraction between soldiers, the costs of evacuating pregnant soldiers or sailors?





Were Summers’ comments appropriate? Why have the incited so much anger? Do you think Summers is right? How do the arguments presented by Pinker and Spelke play into the debate?


Is the absence of women in certain academic fields related to differences in ability? Differences in preference? Should universities take an active role in trying to shift the gender balance in math and sciences?


Should women, as in Norway, be paid to take care of a young child?  Should single woman be paid?  If so would this differ from pre-reform U. S. welfare policies?  Should men who say they are caretakers be paid?


Should parental leave policies support women’s family work or their work outside the home?  Look cross-nationally at the existing policies, which do you think best?  Explain.


In your view have the Nordic countries been successful in developing policies which induce men to care significantly more for young children?  Should the state (1) give subsidies for fathers to do more care giving of babies, (2) subsidize women to stay home with babies, or (3) should it be neutral between mother and father care on the one hand and parental and paid care on the other? Should there be maternity leave in addition to any parental leave?


Ref Rhoads and Rhoads: Why is there such a difference between the faculty’s answers about how husbands and wives should divide work and the way they actually divide it in their own lives?  Why do women do almost all the baby care tasks more than their husbands and like to do almost all of them more than their husbands?  Do you think these results will change significantly in the next 20-30 years?  Why? Look at the numbers in the 25 different tasks.


Should policies as in Sweden encourage male leave taking to such an extent that the family would lose a portion of a leave subsidy if the husband does not take it.  Does gender neutral post birth paid leave help level the playing field for women or does it tilt it further?  What should universities post-birth leave policies be?


A high-ranking Princeton committee has proposed giving a one-year extension of the tenure clock (i.e., the time by which faculty must be either promoted or let go) to all tenure track assistant professors, male and female, who have a new baby.  This would replace a policy which extended the clock only if faculty applied for such a extension.  The thought was that, under the current policy, there was a stigma against faculty who requested and made use of the policy.  Does this policy change sound like a good idea?  Discuss.


Is a half-time tenure track proposal worthy of adoption?  Would it be abused?  If so, how?  Could any abuses be reduced to a tolerable level?  If so, how?


Are universities fair to female faculty?  If not, what could be done about it?





[just a few questions this week.  There are innumerable ways that these readings could be contrasted and/or criticized]


Compare Angier, Graglia, and/or Crittenden on sexuality and the best route to women's well being.


Considering the week's dialogue, where do you think most women would place themselves or would they feel unrepresented by any of the writers.  Discuss.


Compare and assess Pollit, Crittenden, Steinem and/or Graglia on women and nurturing.


Pollit and Graglia completely disagree on how society propagandizes women toward certain kinds of behavior. Discuss their quarrel.


How persuasive is Angier's critique of the standard biological approach to sex differences? Consider some of the topics covered in AP 526: sexuality, aggression, nurturing, conversational style, courtship, cognition, occupational segregation. 


How different is Young from Angier?  What would she say about Crittenden and Graglia, and what would they say about her?


Are the Cathy cartoon and Crittenden right in their assessment of the dating pool available to older, careerist daters?


Compare and contrast the Graglia arguments about how women are socialized with one or more of the feminists'. 


"The differences among women about the question of whether the sexes are fundamentally different are more fundamental and consequential than differences between left and right."  Discuss.


Discuss Rhoads’ thoughts about problems in and solutions for modern marriages.  Would more attention to sex differences improve or harm the lives of women and/ or men?