Objective: To detect gender bias in the media, particularly
Materials: Blackboard or other large recording area
Activity: As a homework assignment, ask each student to
watch a favorite television sitcom. Collect their viewing experiences
on the board. Establish a common foundation of themes, characters
and plot lines.
Small Groups: Divide students into groups of four or five.
Try to assign students who watched the same program to different
groups. In groups, instruct them to:
- Have each student describe their show and the roles that
the important characters played.
- Have each student describe their favorite character.
Total Class: Define and discuss traditional and non-traditional
Small Groups: In groups, instruct them to:
- Ask each student to reverse the gender of the person they
liked best then briefly describe how the program might change.
- Discuss how they feel about their character now (with the
Does the show get more or less interesting? How does the story
change? What predictions might be made?
Total Class: Discuss and generate concepts.
- What was your group's reaction when you described your program
reversing the gender roles? Why do you think they reacted that
- What behaviors do we typically associate with males? With
- How do people decide on their life roles and careers? What
influence does the media have in shaping people's decisions?
- Do you think the media influences you in your current roles
and behaviors? Do you think it will influence your future career
- If you were born the opposite gender, would your behaviors
and career interests be different than they are now? Explain.
Closure: To wrap up the discussion, encourage students to
find out more about non-traditional activities and careers in which
they are interested. Consider traditional and field research projects
that will expand their horizons.
Further Discussion: You can also ask students to analyze
television commercials (or advertising from print media like newspapers
and magazines). Focus attention on the roles and responsibilities
of males and females.
- Compare the family roles and responsibilities shown in the
commercials they saw. Which characters, male or female, are
usually shown having responsibility for household chores and
childcare? For heavy labor or outdoor work? For family finances?
- Were there any characters in the commercials that seemed
to have non-traditional roles in their families? Give examples.