SOCL 320 (Perspective Class)

After experiencing online classes in Spring 2020, I knew I was able to keep up with the workload and follow the schedule easily so I decided to take SOCL 320 over Summer 2020. Each week we were given a PowerPoint to take notes on, a reading to complete, a media type assignment to listen or watch, and then a discussion where we would apply what we learned. I found this class structure to be extremely beneficial because it could be applied to any learning preference and actually required students to apply their knowledge. This class focused on the different types of education and the effects different surroundings or areas can have on students. For example, we listened to a podcast that was centered around a school located in downtown Chicago with a very high crime rate. In turn, many of the students at this school were struggling, not attending class, or participating in illegal activities. This affected their ability to learn and also affected their classmates as well. Some other topics we discussed in the class were charter schools, the achievement gap, and inequalities in the education system such as socioeconomic status and race/ ethnicity. As a future educator, I found this class to be extremely eye-opening and relevant to my future.

Towards the end of the class, we were required to complete an annotated bibliography where we were assigned to research an inequality in the education system. For my assignment, I decided to research gender equality in the classroom. This annotated bibliography was one of our biggest assignments within the course so I thought it would be a great artifact to include in this blog as a way to demonstrate my knowledge and understanding of this course.

(The paper exceeded the limit so I had to copy and past the text)

Winslow, S., & Davis, S. N. (2016). Gender inequality across the academic life course. Sociology Compass10(5), 404–416.

In Gender Inequality Across the Academic Life Course, authors Sarah Winslow and Shannon N. David introduce and analyze the many inequalities women face in academics and propose several solutions. Much of their research is based on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1991 report on women’s status in sciences. The MIT report was eye-opening based on the fact it reported inequalities ranging from office space, salaries, teaching assignments, and even decision making. Winslow and David decided to advance this idea and apply it to modern academics. Upon further investigation, they discovered modern women are surpassing men in college graduation rates yet there is still segregation in the labor market. The authors contend that much of this is due to caretaking responsibilities for women.  Although women have higher graduation rates, often times it takes women longer than men to complete these degrees. Women are forced to face real- life issues such as pregnancy that may hinder their opportunities in education and the workforce. Because of the way gender is institutionalized in the United States, women are expected to prioritize their family and leave behind their career or education. Winslow and David contend this to be unfair and a large reason for the growing gender gap in academics for women. The authors propose women be provided with academic and work benefits to alleviate stress. Some of the benefits could be on-site lactation rooms for nursing mothers, access to low-cost child care, and longer maternity leave. The authors argue these benefits have been proven to be successful and should be put into practice throughout the country. Along with caretaking tasks, the authors argue women need successful mentors. Mentors will provide the women with model strategies for balancing the two life responsibilities. By providing women with mentors, they will learn how to navigate and balance both education and the workforce thus allowing them to do both.

Sarah Winslow and Shannon N. David, authors of Gender Inequality Across the Academic Life Course, both originate from educationally rich backgrounds and successful careers. Winslow received her Bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College in Psychology-sociology and Women’s Studies and went on to receive her Master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in Sociology. Winslow devotes her research to specifically gender and family and has been published several times. Currently, she is working at Clemson University serving as Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of National Scholars Program. Shannon N. Davis received her BA in Sociology from the University of North Carolina and went on to receive her MA and Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in Sociology. Furthermore, she went on to follow that with a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Davis devotes her research to understanding the reproduction of gender inequality in institutions in higher education and with families. Similar to Winslow, David has published many pieces including co-writing a textbook. Currently, she is working at George Mason University serving as Associate Professor of Sociology. Together, they were able to research many topics and inform many people of the gender oppressions occurring. Although they didn’t provide readers with much of their own research, they were able to prove their arguments using data from other projects with similar interest. The use of their data along with other respected professionals’ data created a very concrete article that was eye-opening.

Throughout the article, the authors heavily focused on the idea of providing women with work and academic benefits. Creating longer maternity leaves seems simple, but in reality, that could unwind a whole realm of problems. Some companies may use this as another way to discriminate against women, and could potentially even refrain from hiring women or allowing them to attend school under these pretenses. Unless mandated by the United States for every institution, longer maternity leave would be another way to isolate women and push them out of education/ the workforce. Although longer maternity leave can be seen as a weakness, the implementation of lactating rooms can be seen as a strength from the solution. The implementation of these rooms would help women feel more comfortable during these stressful times and allow them to work during it. Furthermore, on-site daycares or low-cost childcare centers would be a great asset and help motivate/ allow women to stay active in their education or career. Beyond caretaking solutions, the authors proposed the idea of mentors for struggling women. Although this seems beneficial, after further research the authors reported that mentoring systems were rare especially in higher education. Along with that, it was reported most successful mentors chosen were white male men because they are institutionalized as ideal workers. Pairing struggling women with male mentors could potentially lead to more gendered challenges and defeat the whole purpose of the idea. Creating a more structured mentoring system that used mainly women could lead to greater success and be more beneficial in the long run. Throughout the article, Sarah Winslow and Shannon N. David introduced many interesting ideas and proposed many solutions that I hope to see implemented in our country soon.

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