Gender Communication Summer 2009

A space to critically engage gender and communication topics

Student Response June 17, 2009

Filed under: course info — daniellemstern @ 11:44 am

Wow. Your journal entry responses regarding our experience during this brief summer course have been overwhelmingly supportive. I plan to incorporate your suggestions as much as possible when I teach gender online again next summer. I’ve summarized your constructive feedback here. I can’t wait to view your web portfolios. I encourage you to keep your blogs open when the course is over. However, this is entirely your decision, as your blogs are YOUR spaces. If any of you object to me linking to your blogs in my future courses (such as I did from previous students’ blogs that you used as guides this time around), please let me know. We still have one blog post to wrap tonight. Please check back to this shared space at week’s end and/or early next week to read my closing thoughts and, of course, contribute your own if you like.

Suggestions to improve course design:
Meet once or twice more as a “check in.”
Integrate assignments into more of a group setting beyond individual blog posts.
More descriptive grading guidelines/feedback
Space out due times during heavy assignment week
Staggered deadlines for blog comments
Anonymous Blackboard forum for comments/suggestions

Selected feedback:
I also enjoyed the Gender Communication and the family chapter. The thing I liked about this was there was a controversial topic in the blog about gay marriages and children being raised by same sex parents. I thought people were honest and even online you could tell some talks became arguments and people were getting upset, but nobody from what I could tell took it personally which I really enjoyed because that does not happen often.

And I also liked the blogs because I had the opportunity to see how my peers thought about different topics and issues which helped to further my understanding of something and it got me thinking about a different side to things.

While I believe I may have gotten more out of a lecture class, I found that using the blog allowed me to express my opinions that I would have otherwise kept to myself. I’m not one to speak out and argue in class, therefore taking this class online allowed me to be more verbal. This actually was a concept talked about in the education chapter of the text.

Also, I have found that in regular classrooms generally the same people are always speaking and answering the questions to make a discussion.  Here, we were able to hear what everyone had to say and we got a wider range of opinions that led to a broader discussion.

I actually really liked the course blog.  It’s nice to be able to read and re-read everybody’s ideas, and i think it provided a freedom that could not have been possible in the classroom.

I found that I was more inclined to be very upfront about my opinion on the blog.  I took a women and politics class where we discussed many of these issues, and did not participate as much.  I had the same opinions, but didn’t think what I had to say mattered.  More often than not, I didn’t voice my opinion because I felt people would disagree, and it just wasn’t worth arguing about.  As a female, I feel as if I fit the stereotype for girls in regards to education.  I often am shy in the classroom setting.  The blog allowed me to say my thoughts and react to others, without worrying what was thought, or if I would be attacked. Because of this, the blog without a doubt made me more inclined to participate.

Blogging is a way to have continual discussion throughout the day and if what had been said previously is forgotten, you simply have to scroll up to read the previous discussion.  I really liked being able to read what others wrote and know that in a regular classroom setting many of the comments and replies would not have been said because of time restraints and because of the aversion some students have to speaking up in class.

I also think that if there was somehow a group project involved, yes I know it is very hard to have a group project considering that the class could be spread out all over the world.  But if there was a group project then there would be lines of communication between males and females and we could practice what we learned in the class with other individuals that are also trying to practice as well.

The journal entries helped me relate what we wrote to my everyday life. I love being able to apply things, because to me that’s the whole purpose of learning- to let it affect your life. I usually wrote my journals in a more conversational style so that it seemed like I was discussing this with friends or on our classroom blog.

As a girl I feel that I have to be very careful in what I say or else it will be attacked.  Naturally I want to please everyone, but I feel safe on this blog and don’t feel threaten by speaking out.

When my boyfriend told me this class has turned me into a feminist, I tell him that yes, it has, followed by an explanation of the different types of feminism. He tells me this because since the onset of this course, I have become more aware of how greatly gender plays a role in society from how we interact with one another to how men and women are portrayed by the media.

At first I thought I would hate the blog. I thought it was going to be so much work. As I got into it, I loved it. It was more of an educated discussion then homework. I feel like people were more honest in the blogs than they would be in person. My favorite was that everyone got a word in. In class, I never really raise my hand. I always felt like I had nothing unique to say. When I would post something on the blog I would get great feedback… I would check the blog religiously to see if someone had commented on my post. The blog got me more involved with the class than any of my past classes have.

I felt entirely more engaged in this class than in any other, got to say everything I wanted to say, really broadened my horizon with the way I think by my own attempts as well as others inputs, never felt stressed about a due date, and had the luxury of “attending” class at my own leisure.

The course blog was helpful to me because I heard different examples and viewpoints.  Reading everyone’s comments helped me solidify the course concepts in my head.  I gained a deeper understanding of how gender is expressed through friendships, relationships, acquaintances, and the media by using the blog.

I believe that by having the class discussions online it helped in the overall participation of the class because people were not speaking in a traditional classroom atmosphere which gave other people confidence and the ability to start the conversations as well as build off of the people before them.  A big thing that I believe was helpful with this was that people who are cautious about what they are saying when it comes to the opposite sex in a traditional classroom setting, they are able to say what they believe and their views right onto the blog and other people can see that and in turn use that to look at their own beliefs.
Speaking of what we learned, I do not think I have ever been able to relate so much material that I have learned in one class to my everyday life as I have from this class. It has been interesting for me to see the concepts that I have learned be present in the interactions that I have with my family, friends, and co-workers… I am currently taking another online class at the same time as this one and in the discussion board part of Blackboard he has an anonymous link where you can post questions or suggestions for the course by revealing your identity or not. This I think is very helpful for both students and professors because students are more willing to post criticisms or suggestions anonymously.

At first, I really though that taking an online course would hinder my learning experience. I was certainly pleasantly surprised to find that it added to my experience. Although for many other subject matters I believe it would still be a hindrance, for a subject such as gender communication that can involve a lot of viewing media and other sources, it was particularly useful… Also, with the classroom being virtual, your ability as the professor to incorporate a number of different sources that we could refer to made the experience more enjoyable.

I honestly think that this is a great class to teach online, especially with the low number of guys, it allows them to be more open in a class full of girls, who might have stronger opinions on certain subjects… I think this course was great, and I think it should be taught like this year round.  If it was taught like this though I think it would be cool to be able to meet up with the teacher like once a week just to talk about how class is going, or just to have some teacher student relationship.  That way technology does not take over completely and we are still able to form connections and relationships.
While I believe the course blog and the overall virtual classroom eliminated several gendered messages, particularly the ones that come at risk from the interaction between professor and students, I believe it supported an educational experience preferred by females.  As the Gambles discuss in the chapter about gender communication in the classroom, females tend to prefer educational experiences that involve interaction (through discussion on the course blog), participation (through posting on the course blog), and reflection (obtained through the journal entries).  However, I have thoroughly enjoyed the class even though it is an educational experience that is more likely to be favored by females.  Taking this course online allowed for me to experience an educational environment different from one that I prefer.  It would be interesting to know how males compared to females in the class enjoyed the design of the course.

Sometimes, based off of individual’s usernames I wasn’t sure if a person was a boy or a girl, making it difficult to how each was represented. For instance, on some topics I found myself searching for a guys opinion, which could be difficult considering the (I believe) limited number of men in this class, and my ability to know which comments belonged to them. On the other hand, the lack of gender knowledge could be seen as creating a dynamic that works toward gender equality. If I was unaware of a persons gender I could not attribute their statements as “oh that just because they’re a boy (or a girl), but instead worked toward refuting the importance of gender.

Blogging was also very beneficial rather than being in a classroom. I know that sometimes when I am in class I am too afraid to speak up or I do not want to be judged for responding to a question. The blog let me speak what was on my mind and not be afraid of how people might view me because of my opinion. I really believe that the course blog really helped me feel more comfortable in a class, even though it is virtual; it really helped my educational experience.


Blog Activity 13: Globalization and the Future of Gender Studies June 15, 2009

The two readings on Blackboard, one by bell hooks on global feminism from her fabulous reader, Feminism is for Everybody, and one by Lois Leveen from Bitch magazine on gendered toys/enertainment via Dora the Explorer and international labor relations, remind us that despite many advancements in the United States, the struggle for gender equality persists across the globe, especially in developing nations. To wrap up our summer session, please reflect on the political call to action the authors promote. Since this is our last graded post, worth 25 points instead of 20, I encourage you to pull ideas from throughout the semester–not just those from this week’s readings–to propose ideas on how we as Americans can find a balance in recognizing the struggles of women across the globe, and likewise gender relations in general, without patronizing or paternalizing other nations’ citizens (something for which hooks argues strongly). Finally what role should/could media and new technologies play in raising not only gender inequality awareness but also action?


Blog Activity 12: New Media and Globalization Issues June 13, 2009

Filed under: blog activity — daniellemstern @ 7:47 pm
Tags: , ,

Today’s readings (which are found on Blackboard under the Assignment tab, NOT the textbook) not only continue our previous discussion of the media’s role in constructing gender norms but also go further to implicate the feminist and social justice movements’ task in bringing awareness to and possibly dismantling these skewed, limited representations.We’ll focus on the media reading today.

DeFrancisco and Palczewski’s Communicating Gender Diversity, reminds us how media shape the “social imagination” (p. 257) and that progressive representations are more likely to be found in alternative (read: less commercially risky) media forms. However, the authors then turn to statistics and examples in gender differences of internet use. Most tellingly, the authors conclude that new technologies replicate old gender norms grounded in women’s desires for communication as connectivity and men’s need for communication as information. Keep in mind that the studies are now almost ten years old. How do your experiences with new technologies and media forms compare? For example, do you notice gender differences in how you and your friends use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, TiVo, DVRs and so on?


Blog Activity 11: Challenging Media Representations of Gender June 11, 2009

Before we can begin strategically dismantling how popular media stereotype masculinity, femininity and sexuality, it’s important that you read through the many article links on Blackboard under the Media tab. In this space I’m going to include links to condensed Media Education Foundation videos (also available in Blackboard) regarding representation of women’s images in television including Generation M and Dreamworlds 3. Off the Straight and Narrow summarizes representations of gays, lesbians and bisexuals from the beginning of the network era until the mid 1990s, while Further Off the Straight and Narrow is an analysis of gay representation on TV from the late 1990s to now. In the former two videos, we see increasingly sexualized ideals of femininity. In the latter, we see a move toward slick, yet safe gay identities in the mainstream media. Throughout all these images is a reliance on stereotypes that erases the diversity of gender and sexuality experiences and identities. What other stereotypes of gender and sexuality exist in the mainstream media? Will new stereotypes emerge? Will popular media ever be able to move beyond these stereotypes. If so, how?


Blog Activity 10: Doing Gender at Work June 8, 2009

Filed under: blog activity — daniellemstern @ 1:55 pm
Tags: , ,

Today’s reading summarized major issues facing women in the workplace. The Gambles explained the difference between internal and external barriers to advancement in the workplace and also touched on inequality of women’s and men’s wages. The 2003 figures estimated that, on average, women make 72 cents for every dollar men earn. This more recent New York Times’ graphic display of the gender wage gap breaks the difference up by occupation. If you scroll your mouse over the dots on the graph you can see specific percentage differences. A few that I think are striking include physicians and surgeons. Women in these professions earn an astounding 40% less than their male counterparts. In the higher education sector, women earn 22% less than men. One study explains the higher pay disparity at executive level corporate employment, while another highlights the relationship between traditional values and men’s wages.

Another important thing to recognize beyond the gender barriers and pay inequality are the societal pressures and expectations to perform (so-called) masculinity and femininity in the workplace. The text only briefly approaches the topic, so I’d like for us to expand the discussion and connect it to the gender wage gap that clearly still persists. One article that I think successfully brings the two ideas together is focused on women’s transition from educational success to workplace struggle. A second article discusses the gender expecations in hosting programs on the Food Network. Please read the articles (as well as the other links I’ve included in the post) and reflect on your experience and that of women and men close to you who have experienced gender discrimination (societal, economic or both) in the workplace. What pressures still exist? How might we resolve these issues civilly?


Gender disparity in higher education

Filed under: supplemental link — daniellemstern @ 8:05 am
Tags: just published (and released as a podcast) this article on gender equity in the sciences. It’s an interesting read…


Touching base June 5, 2009

Filed under: course info — daniellemstern @ 5:18 pm

I want to commend you all on your hard work and thoughtful contributions to the blog this week, especially the most recent prompt on romantic relationships. Not only were there more assignments this week, but you also made great strides to discuss the “tough” topics. It’s these times that I think online learning might actually be more beneficial than a physical classroom. Think about how many times you wanted to voice an opposing opinion but didn’t feel comfortable or didn’t want to rock the boat. Similarly, sometimes face-to-face discussions become heated and uncomfortable. I’m not suggesting we replace all traditional learning spaces with online forums. Rather, just as some of the blog prompts have encouraged thinking outside the norm, I think our current virtual classroom is challenging our longtime assumptions about learning. Those of you who haven’t yet revisited the relationship blog post to read through everyone’s remarks, I suggest doing so. In the meantime, good luck on your Web portfolios.