Effective: Early Spring 8-Week 2018/2019

WMST 310: *Women And Society

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  Course Description

Analysis of the social and cultural forces that shape women's position in society; explanations and critical analysis of the gendered nature of our reality. Cross listed as SOCI/WMST 310.

Prerequisite: None

Proctored Exams: Midterm



  • Shaw, S. and Lee, J. eds.. (2015). Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings (6th ed). New York: McGraw Hill.  
    • [ISBN-978-00078-02700-0]
  • Taylor, V.N., Whittier, N., Rupp, L. J. eds. (2012). Feminist Frontiers (9th ed). New York: McGraw Hill.  
    • [ISBN-978-0-07-802662-1]

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

The objective of this course is to learn and apply the major sociological and feminist theories to the study of gender. A historical analysis of the women’s movements in the U.S. and the world is taught, and the current status of feminist theory is analyzed.

We will identify the gendered nature of social institutions such as education, economic, legal, and media. Understanding how gender is constructed through the intersection with other differences among women, such as race, ethnicity, and class is foundational to understanding sexism and inequality.

You will engage in current research in the fields of gender studies, and learn to critically interrogate the concepts of sex, gender, and sexuality as social, political, and historical constructions.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. To apply the major sociological and feminist theories to the study of gender.
  2. To describe and explain the history of and current status of feminist movements in the U.S. and the world.
  3. To identify the influence of gender on women’s within major social institutions.
  4. To explain the notion of intersectionality and apply it to the analysis of individual lives.
  5. To engage with current research in the fields of gender studies.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 450-500 90-100%
B 400-449 80-89%
C 350-399 70-79%
D 300-349 60-69%
F 0-299 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (17) 100 20%
Papers (3) 200 40%
Midterm Exam 100 20%
Final Exam 100 20%
Total 500 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Introduction Discussion 4 Wednesday
Discussion 1 6 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 2 6 Friday/Sunday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 6 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 4 6 Friday/Sunday
Paper 1 50 Sunday
Proctor Information N/A

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 6 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 6 6 Friday/Sunday

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 6 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 8 6 Friday/Sunday
Midterm Exam 100 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 6 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 10 6 Friday/Sunday
Paper 2 50 Sunday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11 6 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 12 6 Friday/Sunday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13 6 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 14 6 Friday/Sunday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 15 6 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 16 6 Friday/Saturday
Paper 3 100 Friday
Final Exam 100 Saturday
Total Points: 500

  Assignment Overview


There are two discussion topics each week. Initial posts for each topic due on Wednesdays and Fridays, and responses to classmates’ posts in both weekly topics due on Sundays (except in Week 8, when responses are due on Saturday.) All original posts should be 2-3 paragraphs in length or approximately 500 words. The two required responses to classmates’ postings for each discussion must be approximately one paragraph in length. 

You must post an initial response to the discussion prompt before you will be able to see your classmates' posts. See the assignment expectations in the Content area for more details about expectations and grading criteria.


You will write three papers in this course. The first and second papers are worth 50 points each. The third paper is worth 100 points. Each paper will be graded on the basis of analytical and critical thinking skills, completeness, correct spelling, correct formatting and citations, and neatness. The papers amount to 40% of your final grade.

Requirements for first and second papers: Single spaced, 12 pt. font, normal margins, 2 pages required, APA format required (cite authors in textbook for the theoretical perspectives you discuss throughout paper with year, include full references at the end of the paper. You do not need a title page or abstract for these papers.) Due Sunday 11:59 p.m. CT of Week 2 (first paper) and 5 (second paper).

Requirements for third paper: Double spaced, 12 pt. font, normal margins, 8 pages required (this includes the title, abstract and reference page), APA formatting required (this includes title, abstract, and reference page). Due Friday 11:59 p.m. CT of Week 8.

Thesis statement required in bold. You are expected to do library research, which can include but must go beyond the texts used for this class. You must use at least six academic sources, including books or journal articles.  If you use popular press articles (such as Time magazine) or online sources other than academic journals you found online, these are not included as part of your six academic sources. You can use them as supplements, but you must have at least six academic sources in addition to such supplemental sources.


This course includes a midterm and a final exam, each worth 100 points. Together, at 200 points, the exams comprise 40% of your final grade.  Only the Midterm is proctored. The final exam can be taken at home or office.

You must submit the “Student Proctor Information Submission Form” to the Proctor Information Dropbox by the end of Week 2. This form and additional information about Proctoring is located in the Content area of the course. Each Columbia College site has its own hours and methods for handling proctoring.

Each exam consists of 13 multiple-choice/T/F questions (25 points) and 5 short essay questions worth 15 points each for a total of 100 points. Both exams are taken online in the D2L course environment. The Midterm exam (with an approved proctor) is taken between Tuesday and Sunday of Week 4 and the Final Exam is taken between Tuesday and Saturday of Week 8.

Two hours are allowed to complete each exam. Exam review sheets are posted in the course and sent by email on Monday of Week 3 and 6. Please use the review sheet, as it is the best preparation for your midterm exam. The midterm is comprised of questions from topics covered in Weeks 1-4 and the final is comprised of questions from topics covered in Weeks 5-8.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.


Women's Voices: Chapters 1 (pg. 1-33) & 3 (pg. 116-134)

Feminist Frontiers: “Night to His Day”: The Social Construction of Gender,” Judith Lorber (Part 1, Section 2)

Introduction Discussion

Please introduce yourself.  Give us more than your name. Include your profession, hobbies, interests, background in sociology, and any other information that can help us get to know you. Be sure to tell us what interested you in this course. 

Activity: Tell two people you are taking a Women’s Studies class and note their reactions. Share with the group and add your thoughts.

Discussion 1

After reading Chapter 1 in the Shaw text, describe the history of the women’s movement in the U.S.  How has the women’s movement affected your life? Women’s movements occur globally. Describe a brief history of the women’s movement in one of the countries listed in the “Global Feminisms Learning Activity” in chapter 1 (pg. 16).

Discussion 2

What is the distinction between sex and gender? Explain the complexity of this distinction. Define the terms transgender and androgyny and explain their differences. What does gender queer mean? What is cis-gender?


Women's Voices: Chapter 2 & Hill Collins essay (pg. 49-78)

Feminist Frontiers: Girls and Boys Together . . . but Mostly Apart: Gender Arrangements in Elementary Schools, Barrie Thorne (Part 2, Section 4)

Discussion 3
What does it mean to say that humans are marked by difference? In what kinds of ways are women different from each other? In what ways are “differences” institutionalized into hierarchies of inequality and privilege in your neighborhood, the high school you attended, your college or university, church, workplace, etc.?
Discussion 4
According to Hill Collins, where does change start and what must be the primary site for social change? What are the three suggestions she gives for overcoming the barriers of systems of inequality and privilege and building coalitions?
Paper 1
Explain in your own words how gender and sex are distinct (although interacting) concepts. Using the Lorber and Thorne essay from the Feminist Frontiers text and the readings from Chapter 3 in the Women's Voices text, describe what it means to say gender is a “performance”? Explain what it means to say that gender performance is more than a voluntary act. What does it mean to say gender is socially constructed? What are contemporary norms associated with femininity and masculinity? Give examples of the various institutions that maintain these norms.
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.

Women's Voices: Vivian May (pg. 79-84)

Feminist Frontiers

  • Where I Come from Is Like This, Paula Gunn Allen (Part 1, Section 1)
  • Hair Still Matters, Ingrid Banks (Part 1, Section3)
  • The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House, Audre Lorde (Part 1, Section 1)
Discussion 5

Define what the author means by intersectionality. Locate yourself in this conversation. What are your salient identities and how has the intersection of these provided you with certain resources and experiences? Have you experienced forms of discrimination or oppression? Give examples.

Discussion 6

Reflect on at least one of the three essays from Feminist Frontiers and answer one of the following questions pertaining to the particular essay:

  1. What are the competing expectations of womanhood that Paula Gunn Allen was exposed to growing up?Why did she witness such competing expectations?
  2. What does Lorde mean when she says, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House?” Give an example of the “master’s tools.”
  3. What does Banks mean by her title, ‘Hair still matters?’To whom does it matter and why does it matter?In other words, why does she argue that hairstyles are not simply matters of aesthetics?

Women's Voices: Chapter 9 (pg. 470-501) and The Triumph of the Working Mother, Stephanie Coontz (pg. 515-516)

Feminist Frontiers: Sex Segregation in the U.S. Labor Force, Christine E. Bose and Rachel Bridges Whaley (Part 3, Section 5)

Discussion 7
Why do women in the world tend to work longer hours than men? What is the relationship between expectations of gender, women’s domestic labor, and the kinds of work women tend to do in the labor force?
Discussion 8
Overview the changing status of women working outside the home and parenting over the past 50 years, according to Coontz. This part should be the bulk of your post. Then briefly describe your mother, or other maternal figure, or the person who most closely raised you as a child and find out about her/his work history. If they worked outside the home, who took care of you while they worked? If you can interview them, ask them to describe what their experience was like.
Midterm Exam

The midterm exam, worth 100 points, must be taken with a proctor between Tuesday and Sunday of Week 4. You must submit the “Student Proctor Information Submission Form” to the Proctor Information Dropbox by the end of Week 2. This form and additional information about Proctoring is located in the Content area of the course. Each Columbia College site has its own hours and methods for handling proctoring.

The exam consists of 13 multiple-choice/T/F questions (25 points) and 5 short essay questions worth 15 points each for a total of 100 points. You will be allowed two hours to complete the exam.

Exam review sheets will be posted in the course and sent by email on Monday of Week 3. Please use the review sheet as it is the best preparation for your midterm exam. The midterm is comprised of questions from topics covered in Weeks 1-4.


Women’s Voices: Chapter 10 (pg. 537-564) and Sex Trafficking in the U.S. by Rachel Chinapen (pg. 568-570)

Feminist Frontiers: Fraternities and Rape on Campus, Patricia Yancey Martin and Robert A. Hummer, Part 3, Section 9

Discussion 9
Based on this week’s readings, what legislation has passed to address violence against college women? Name the “date rape” drugs and explain how they work and how women can try to protect themselves. What is the relationship between rape and alcohol? What aspect of college life tends to provide the greatest risk for women?
Discussion 10
Based on this week’s readings, why do men batter or physically abuse women? Summarize battering statistics. What are the reasons why women might stay in an abusive relationship?
Paper 2

What are the 4 key points discussed in chapter 10 that provide the framework for understanding misogynous violence? Explain the meaning and context associated with the discussion of “backlash.” What is misogyny and provide an example of it. How are women blamed for their own victimization?


Women’s Voices: Chapter 7 (pg. 362-394).

Feminist Frontiers

  • Doing Desire: Adolescent Girls’ Struggles for/with Sexuality, Deborah L. Tolman, Part 3, Section 7
  • Beyond Pro-Choice Versus Pro-Life: Women of Color and Reproductive Justice, Andrea Smith, Part 3, Section 8
  • The Bare Bones of Sex: Part 1—Sex and Gender, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Part 3, Section 8
Discussion 11

The Smith essay questions the approach of both sides of the abortion debate from the perspectives of women of color, poor women, and women with disabilities and argues that neither attend to the issues of marginalized women. What does she mean by this? What does she suggest needs to happen?

Discussion 12

Begin your post by defining what is meant by the sexual double standard.  Provide evidence from the Tolman essay that the sexual double standard is evident in adolescent girls’ narratives.  Do you think the sexual double standard is alive today?  If so, provide an example.

Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.

Women’s Voices: Chapter 4 (pg. 181-204) & Chapter 5 (pg. 250-275)

Feminist Frontiers: “A Way Outa No Way”: Eating Problems Among African-American, Latina, and White Women, Becky Wangsgaard Thompson, Part 3, Section 8

Discussion 13
Consume some media– watch television, pay attention to commercials, scan magazines or newspapers, etc. - keeping the following questions in mind:  How are women portrayed in the mass media? Men? What role do such images play in our culture? Describe your findings. Using information from readings, identify what impact media portrayals can have on women and men.  Have media images affected you?  If so, describe in what ways.
Discussion 14
Drawing on “A Way Outa No Way” by Becky Wangsgaard Thompson describe how mainstream white feminist analyses of eating problems marginalize the real life experiences of women of color.

Women’s Voices: Chapter 11 (pg. 582-605) & Looking Beyond the Wall by Robert Neustadt (pg. 620)

Feminist Frontiers: Gender in the Borderlands, Denise A. Segura and Patricia Zavella, Part 1, Section 2

Discussion 15

Explain what Segura and Zavella mean by “borderlands.” What is subjective transnationalism?  When women become the center of analysis, questions and assumptions change. Reflecting on recent debates about migration to the UShow are women migrants represented?

Discussion 16

How does the state function as a conduit for systems of inequality and privilege? What does “conduit” mean? When was the Equal Rights Amendment first introduced into Congress? What did it hope to counter? When was it rewritten? What does it say? Why did it fail and what is its current status? What is the “three-state strategy”?

Paper 3

The final research paper should analyze women’s roles in U.S. politics. Research women’s historical role and their current positions in the U.S. Briefly describe your findings (in less than 1.5 pages because this is not a history paper).

Then, review journal articles that discuss the trends of women in politics. After researching current trends and topics, choose to expand your analysis on a specific issue. Examples could include, but are not limited to:

  • Is there gender equality in U.S. politics in regards to representation? If not, why?
  • Do female politicians address different issues than men? If so, is this because of gendered expectations?
  • What is a male gatekeeper and how is this making progress more difficult?
Final Exam

The final exam is worth 100 points. It is NOT proctored; it can be taken at home or office between Tuesday and Saturday of Week 8.

The exam consists of 13 multiple-choice/T/F questions (25 points) and 5 short essay questions worth 15 points each for a total of 100 points. You will have 2 hours to complete the exam.

Exam review sheets will be posted in the course and sent by email on Monday of Week 6. Please use the review sheet as it is the best preparation for your exam. The final is comprised of questions from topics covered in Weeks 5-8.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late assignments are accepted in this class. No late discussion posts are accepted in this class.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.