Bárbara C. Cruz and Carolyn V. Prorok
In How Schools Shortchange Girls and the more recent Girls in the Middle, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) makes clear the following research findings about the effects of gender in American classrooms:
npreferential treatment given to boys in the classroom has a negative effect on both girls and boys in current school restructuring proposals run the risk of unwittingly neglecting the needs of female students it is important to provide teachers with continuing professional development opportunities that relate to gender-fair teaching.1
Educators across the nation have used these findings as an opportunity to reflect upon the status of women and girls in the classroom. Geographers are no exception. Even prior to the AAUW reports, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (1990) published its finding that, at all grade levels tested, girls and ethnic minorities scored significantly lower on geography tests than other students. Scholars have further pointed out that the world view presented in most introductory human geography texts almost entirely reflects male experience.2 And, while various academic articles, monographs, and books already existed on the subject, it became painfully obvious that there was little in the way of teacher-ready lessons to be used in K-12 classrooms.
Recognizing the curricular void that existed, a curriculum team came together to investigate the status of gender in geographic education, develop curricula for middle and secondary schools, and train teachers in this area. The National Council on Geographic Education's (NCGE) Task Force on Underrepresented Groups, equipped with a grant from the National Science Foundation, embarked on a mission to achieve the goal of gender-fair teaching.
The Finding A Way Project that resulted aims to train teachers in the use of creative and innovative strategies for encouraging girls-of all racial and ethnic backgrounds-in the study of geography. Moreover, it expects the strategies modeled will help teachers to foster interest and achievement among all geography students, not just members of underrepresented groups. To date, a team of classroom teachers, university professors, administrators, and parents has developed a collection of lessons that are being field tested in a variety of school systems throughout the United States.
"Women at Work," one such lesson plan, encourages students both to critically examine the notion of "work" and to appreciate the significance of place in shaping women's work experiences. This lesson explores such critical concepts as domestic activity, invisible work, rural space, and urban space. More than a lesson about women, "Women at Work" is a lesson that leads all students on the path to change.
"Women at Work"
Introduction: Although women are an important part of the world's labor force, much of their work is not assigned an economic value. Since many of the tasks women perform in the home are not directly compensated, much of their work is considered "invisible." In this lesson, students will investigate various types of work and the influence of place in shaping women's work experiences.
Time Required: 2 class periods
Geographic Standards Addressed: 4, 11
The geographically informed person knows and understands:
NCSS Curriculum Standards Addressed:
3 People, Places, and Environments
The study of people, places, and human-environment interactions assists students as they create their spatial views and geographic perspectives of the world beyond their personal locations.4
Objectives: As a result of completing this learning activity, students will
1. Classify types of work and distinguish between visible and invisible work
2. Identify the home as one of many places that function as a center of economic activity
3. Interpret data gathered from oral interviews and create clock graphs from the data
4. Compare and contrast a typical work day in the U. S. A. with a typical work day in a developing country
5. Compare and contrast the significance of the rural v. urban work experience.
Teacher: "Teacher Background Reading: 'Women at Work'" on types of work performed (p. 389, below); "Day in the Life of Two Women in Rural and Urban Kenya" (Guided Imagery Text) (p. 387); wall map of the world to identify relative locations of U. S. and Kenya.
Students: Handout #1 ("Types of Work Notes Guide"); Handout #2 ("Schedules of Two Women in Kenya"); Handout #3 ("Clock Graphs of Two Kenyan Women").
Introducing the Lesson: (approximately 12-15 minutes)
1. "Think-Pair-Share" exercise on the concept of work:
a.Ask students: "What comes to mind when you think of the word 'work'?"
b.Direct students: "On a piece of paper, list at least 10 activities you would call work." Allow students 2-3 minutes to generate their lists.
c.Have students turn to another person near them and share their lists. Have them circle those activities named in common.
d.As a large group, compose a class list of work activities on the blackboard.
Carrying Out the Lesson: (approximately 25 minutes)
2.Distribute Handout #1 ("Types of Work Notes Guide"). Tell students to take notes on the types of work described as they listen to a teacher explanation; these notes will be important over the course of the next two days. Your mini-lecture should be prepared by using the "Teacher Background Reading on Types of Work," which provides a simple definition of different types of work and concrete examples of each. Encourage students to participate by naming more examples for each type of work discussed.
3. Direct students to look at the list of activities already generated on the board, and have students categorize those activities based on the types of work about which they just learned.
Concluding the Lesson: (approximately 10-15 minutes)
4. Encourage discussion using the following question strategy:
a.Which category of work had the most examples listed on the board?
b.Why do you think that category had the most examples?
c.Are more men or women involved in productive work? Why do you think so?
d.Are there any categories of work that are not represented on the board? What?
Evaluating the Lesson:
5.Student's contribution to class discussion and successful completion of Handout #1 ("Types of Work Notes Guide").
Introducing the Lesson: (approximately 10 minutes)
1. Read the Guided Imagery Text: "A Day in the Life of Two Women in Rural and Urban Kenya"
2. Ask: How does the definition of work we talked about yesterday reflect the activities of both of these women?
Carrying out the Lesson: (approximately 20 minutes)
3. Distribute Handout #2 ("Schedules of Two Women in Kenya"). Have students classify each activity in the schedules using the categories from Day 1.
4. Distribute Handout #3 ("Clock Graphs of Two Kenyan Women"). Explain to students how schedules can be represented in a clock format.
5. Ask students to create a clock graph for the schedules of the two Kenyan women.
Option 1: Students can draw diagonal lines for those times during which the women are occupied in work, and draw dots during those times in which they engage in non-work activities.
Option 2: Students can assign a color to each of the five types of work discussed and complete the clock graph so that it depicts the different types of work in which the women engaged.
Concluding the Lesson: (Approximately 10-15 minutes)
6. Encourage discussion by using the following question strategy:
a. Which type of work takes up most of the day for the rural woman? For the urban woman?
b. How are the schedules of the two women in Kenya different?
c. How are their schedules similar?
d. Are there such differences between rural and urban people in the United States?
e. How are the lives of rural and urban people in the United States similar?
f. How do you think the schedules of these two women would compare with the daily schedules of women in the United States?
Evaluating the Lesson:
7. Successful classification of Handout #2, accurate reflection of the two Kenyan women's schedules in clock graph format, and active participation in concluding discussion.
Extension Activity: Have students interview one adult female and one adult male whom they know regarding their work life. Have them apply the interview data they collect into clock graph form. They may also synthesize their findings into a two-minute presentation.
1 American Association of University Women, How Schools Shortchange Girls (Washington, DC: National Education Association, 1992) and Girls in the Middle (Washington, DC: National Education Association, 1996).
2 Janice Monk, "Integrating Women into the Geography Curriculum," Journal of Geography 82 (November-December 1983): 271-273; and D. R. Lee, "The Status of Women in Geography: Things Change, Things Remain the Same," The Professional Geographer 42: 202-211.
3 Geography Education Standards Project, Geography for Life: Geography National Standards 1994 (Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1994).
4 National Council for the Social Studies, Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies. (Washington, DC: NCSS, 1994).
Gross, Susan H. and Mary H. Rojas. Contemporary Issues for Women in South Asia. St. Louis Park, MN: Glenhurst, 1989.
di Leonardo, Michaela. "Women's Culture and Its Discontents," in Brett Williams (ed.), The Politics of Culture, 219-242. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991.
Mazey, Mary Ellen and David R. Lee. Her Space, Her Place: A Geography of Women. Washington, DC: Resource Publications in Geography, 1983.
Seager, Joni and Ann Olson. Women in the World Atlas. New York: Simon and Schuster, Touchstone Books, 1986.
Bárbara C. Cruz is a professor of social science education at the University of South Florida. She specializes in global education, multicultural education and minority issues.
Carolyn V. Prorok is a professor of geography at Slippery Rock University. She has published extensively on the Hindu Diaspora, women in development, and geography education. The authors would like to acknowledge the insightful comments of professor Rickie Sanders at Temple University and the computer wizardry of Ursula White of the University of South Florida.
The definition of work-how one uses one's time to accomplish something-can be organized under at least five categories: productive, reproductive, support networks, kin work, and status enhancing work. Personal maintenance (sleeping, washing oneself, eating) and doing things you choose to do for leisure are not considered work.
1. Productive Work: This type of work is usually considered "reaquot; or "visible" work because cash payment is received for the work that is done. Productive work has been traditionally associated with men. Examples of this type of work include building constructors, doctors, clerks, auto mechanics, and teachers. Increasingly women are entering the paid work force.
2. Reproductive Work: This type of work includes domestic work and child care; it is usually associated with women. Domestic chores, including walking long distances each day to get fresh water and to gather firewood, constitute reproductive work-considered to be "invisible" because it is not paid. Other examples include chauffeuring children to school activities, preparing family meals, and doing laundry.
3. Support Networks: This type of work is done to help other people and is usually associated with women. Often, it is done on behalf of the entire family. It is considered "invisible" work because it is done in the private arena of home and family, and the time and effort invested in it is not easily measured nor compensated. For example, loyal relationships are built by offering support in difficult times to family and friends.
4. Kin Work: This is physical and mental work that maintains cross-household ties and quasi-kin or "fictive" (e.g., godparents) ties; for example, visits, letters, presents, telephone calls, cards to kin, the organization of holiday gatherings. Because it is unpaid and often unrecognized work, it is considered "invisible." This work sometimes overlaps with Support Networks.
5. Status Enhancing Work: These are tasks which improve or impress on others the position of one's self or family. Even though this type of work can be associated with both men and women, it tends to be done primarily by women. Many times this work is looked upon as leisure activities engaged in by the wealthy. Volunteer work may be looked upon this way. For example, a woman who organizes a fund raising activity for a hospital can enhance her husband's status. This service lets the public know that her husband has the kind of income which allows her not to engage in "productive work" and she has time to volunteer. Although this work is necessarily visible by members in the family and community, it is unpaid and not usually considered "reaquot; work.
Handout #1: Types of Work Notes Guide
Definition of Work:
Status Enhancing Work
Guided Imagery Text: A Day in the Life of Two Women in Rural and Urban Kenya
NOTE TO TEACHER: For a guided imagery exercise to be effective, external stimuli need to be minimized so that students can focus on your voice and what you are reading to them. To facilitate this, try to make the classroom as non-stimulating as possible by dimming the lights, closing the door(s), and having students put all materials away.
Today we are going to imagine what it might be like to be a woman in Kenya. Please close your eyes, relax in your chairs, and listen carefully to what I'm going to say. I would like for you to try to imagine and picture in your mind what I'm about to describe.
The day of a woman in rural Kenya begins at 4:45 a.m. She has 15 minutes to wash up with yesterday's leftover water and get dressed. From 5:00 to 5:30 a.m. she prepares breakfast for her family and eats with them. She then gets the children ready for school and is walking to the fields by 6:00. When she arrives at the fields by 6:30 a.m., she begins to work and continues until 11:00 a.m., when she takes a 15 minute lunch break. She continues to work until 3:00 p.m. As she makes her way home, she collects firewood and finally arrives at her home at 4:00 p.m. Pounding and grinding the corn for the evening meal takes one-and-a-half hours (until 5:30 p.m.). Collecting water is very important and it takes her from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. to do that. When she gets back home, she cooks for the family and eats; it is now 8:30 p.m. She then washes the children, the dishes, and herself. At 9:30 p.m. she goes to bed.
For a Kenyan woman who lives in the city, the day begins at 5:00a.m., when she washes and dresses herself. She prepares the family's breakfast and eats. She gets the children ready for school, working quickly since she has got to be on the bus by 6:15 a.m. After the 45 minute bus ride, she starts her work day as an office manager at 7:00 a.m. With the exception of a half an hour lunch break, she works until 4:00 p.m. She catches the bus and is home by 4:45 p.m. She stops at the market to buy vegetables for dinner and is home shortly after 5:00 p.m. Then she prepares the family's dinner and sits down to eat with them. After dinner, she helps the children with their homework for a half an hour. At 6:45 p.m. she begins to do the family's sewing and laundry. At 7:30 p.m. she washes the children, the dinner dishes, and herself. At 8:30 p.m. she puts the children to bed and does some dusting and mops the floor. She watches her favorite TV show from 9:00 until 9:30 p.m. and goes to bed.
Handout #2: Schedules of Two Women in Kenya
A Day in the Life of a Woman in Rural Kenya
4:45a.m.-5:00a.m. Get up, wash (with yesterday's water)
5:00a.m.-5:30a.m. Prepare breakfast for family, eat
5:30a.m.-6:00a.m. Get children ready for school
6:00a.m.-6:30a.m. Walk to fields
6:30a.m.-11:00a.m. Work in fields
11:00a.m-11:15a.m. Lunch break
11:15a.m.-3:00p.m. Work in fields
3:00p.m.-4:00p.m. Collect firewood and return home
4:00p.m.-5:30p.m. Pound and grind corn
5:30p.m.-6:30p.m. Collect water
6:30p.m.-8:30p.m. Cook for family, eat
8:30p.m.-9:30p.m. Wash children, dishes, and herself
9:30p.m. Go to bed
A Day in the Life of a Woman in Urban Kenya
5:00a.m.-5:15a.m. Get up, wash
5:15a.m.-5:45a.m. Prepare breakfast for family, eat
5:45a.m.-6:15a.m. Get children ready for school
6:15a.m.-7:00a.m. Take bus to work
7:00a.m.-11:30a.m.Work as an office manager
11:30a.m.-12 Noon Lunch break
12Noon-4:00p.m. Work as an office manager
4:00p.m.-4:45p.m. Take bus back home
4:45p.m.-5:00p.m. Stop at market, buy vegetables for dinner
5:00p.m.-6:15p.m. Prepare dinner for family, eat
6:15p.m.-6:45p.m. Help children with homework
6:45p.m.-7:30p.m. Do the family laundry, sewing
7:30p.m.-8:30p.m. Wash children, dishes, and herself
8:30p.m.-9:00p.m. Put children to bed, do light housework
9:00p.m.-9:30p.m. Watch television
9:30p.m. Go to bed
Handout #3: Clock Graphs of Two Kenyan Women