Gradual improvements in the economic, occupational and political circumstances of women in the United
States may challenge the argument that the condition of women is still fundamentally characterized by
gender inequality. Do you think that such improvements mean that gender inequality will soon be a
problem of the past?
Part One: Summarize the Changes in Womens Status (two or three paragraphs)
Which changes in the status of women in the last generation or two have been the most
significant in eroding gender inequality? Consider the various arenas in which womens status
has improved. For example, how has the status of women improved in the economy (jobs,
income), education, politics, or in interpersonal relations? Hint: focus on only one or two of
In which ways (and to what extent) are women still subject to gender inequality and
discrimination? Again, consider the various arenas above and narrow your focus.
Part Two: Evaluate Whether Womens Status Is Still Basically Characterized by Gender Inequality
(about a paragraph)
Based on the evidence you presented above, do you think that it makes sense to focus on
inequality and discrimination in order to understand the status of women in the contemporary
United States? Is seeing women as a minority group (as sociologists use that term) useful or
Is gender equality even possible (or desirable) given the biological differences between men and
How to answer this question effectively:
Although this is asking your opinion, you should present specific, measurable evidence, not
anecdotes, stories and personal examples. This is especially important for part one.
The kinds of evidence which might be relevant include items listed below. Do not try to discuss
all of these. Focus on the two or three you consider to be the most important.
o proportions of women in positions of power (e.g. Congress, corporate boardrooms)
o changes in the occupations of women, particularly higher status occupations (e.g. law,
o changes in income and poverty over time (particularly relative to men)
o college admission and completion rates over time
o incidences of domestic abuse and other violence against women
o incidences of hate crimes directed against women
o surveys of (changing) gender attitudes
o cultural (media) depictions and expectations of women
o gender scripts and the social construction of gender
Your essay should be about 500 words in total (about two pages typed). Your grade will be based on
how well you apply the concepts discussed in the text to the broader question and on the external
evidence you bring to bear on your argument. Thus, you should demonstrate understanding of the
concepts themselves and how they apply to the question, and also find and apply relevant, objective
evidence to back up your argument.