The purpose of this lesson is to acquaint students with historic
and current-day factors that have an impact on their economic
status. Students will reconfigure the Help Wanted section of their
local newspaper to reflect the male and female
jobs that were the order of the day before the Civil Rights Amendment
was passed; conduct an oral history interview to learn about how
womens lives have been shaped by the times in which they
have lived; write an editorial addressing the issues of the current-day
wage gap; and consider what can be done about economic inequities
on a personal, national and international level.
Before the Civil Rights Amendment was passed, newspapers
Help Wanted ads were divided into male and female sections.
In this lesson students take the help wanted section from a
local newspaper and separate the ads into male jobs
and female jobs.
1. Divide students into groups of odd numbers (three or five
2. Give each group the Help Wanted section.
3. Tell students that they are to divide the jobs into male
and female jobs as was done before the Civil Rights
Amendment was passed.
4. Have each group discuss whether to place the ad under female
or male, based on societys gender assumptions. As there
will most likely be a number of disagreements as to where to
place the ads, voting is a fair way (hence the odd number of
students in each group) to settle disagreements.
5. After the students have finished separating the ads, ask
them to glue the male ads on one piece of paper and the female
ads on another.
6. Ask students to answer the following questions:
Had you known that Help Wanted ads used to be categorized
under male and female jobs?
How did it feel to divide jobs along gender lines?
How would you react if todays newspapers still
categorized their Help Wanted ads this way?
Think about the jobs glued on each piece of paper.
Do you know people who have any jobs like these? If you do,
are they male or female?
Do you think females are still clustered into traditional
female jobs? Explain.
Look at the wage that each job pays. Compare the wages
on the male help wanted poster to the wages on
the female help wanted poster. Are there any noticeable
Do you think the roles of women in the workforce will
continue to change? How?
Do you think women today are still feeling the effects
from this division of jobs based on gender? Explain.
ACTIVITY ONE: ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW
The purpose of this activity is to give students an understanding
of how womens lives were shaped by the times in which
1. Divide the class into small research groups. Have each student
interview several women of varied ages.
2. The following is a list of interview questions:
In what year were you born? (The answers to the questions
will be compiled based on date of birth.)
What do you think womens roles and womens
rights in society should be?
What is your occupation?
What was your mothers and grandmothers
What do you think of the Womens Movement? How
did it affect your life?
When you were growing up were your assigned chores
different than those of any males in your family?
The answers to the following two questions also are to be
used in the next activity.
For women who were/are stay-at-home moms:
Discuss the reasons you decided to be a stay-at-home
mom after your children were born. Did you discuss the option
of your partner staying home instead of you? Do you think
that societys expectations about women's roles had an
impact on your decision? How?
For mothers who work full time:
Generally speaking, is it you or your husband who
leaves work to pick your children up from school or child
care? Takes your children to doctor appointments? Stays home
with them when they are sick? Explain why.
3. Have each group create one chart that contains the answers
from all of the women that the group members interviewed. Chart
the answers by the decade in which the interviewee was born.
4. Have each student answer the following questions:
What was the most surprising thing you learned from
What was the most interesting thing you learned?
Did any of the information make you angry? Describe.
Compare the answers to the same questions given by
women from different decades. What do you notice? Explain.
Write a summary about how you think womens lives
have changed based on the answers to your questions.
Did you notice that certain things havent changed
very much? Explain.
ACTIVITY TWO: THE WAGE-GAP
1. Write the following statement on the board:
Today, White women are paid 74 cents for every dollar
White men are paid; the difference is even greater for women
of color African-American women are paid 63 cents and
Latina women 55 cents for every dollar white men are paid.
2. Involve the class in a discussion about some possible reasons
for these statistics.
3. Have students read the article Wage-Gap Myth.
(You may also choose to copy the article and pass it out to
This URL is the articles current location. as of January
This URL is where the article will be permanently housed
after it is replaced by another article on the main page.
4. Read the following quote from the article:
Its true that women take time out of the workforce
to raise children more often than men do. This is partly due
to expectations that they will do so, and partly due to the
fact that they are likely to be the lower-wage earner in a
Refer the students back to their interview question about stay-at-home
moms, and have them answer the following:
Did the women in your research study decide to stay
at home because of societal expectations, because they were
the lower-wage earner in the family or for other reasons?
(If the latter, explain what the other reasons were.)
5. Share the following excerpt from the article:
The time out factor is the main reason
women have lower lifetime earnings than men, meaning lower
pension and Social Security benefits. It is also the main
reason more elderly women live in poverty. In 1997, the poverty
rate of elderly women was nearly double the poverty rate of
elderly men: 13.1 percent for women, 7.0 percent for men.
Isnt that a nice thank you to our moms for
staying home with us?
Ask the students the following:
Do you think this is fair? What could be done about
6. Read the following to the class:
Many of the things stay-at-home moms learn and do would
be considered valid work experience on any resume
- if they were being paid for them.
Discuss the following questions:
Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
Brainstorm ideas to that would help resolve this issue.
7. Read this excerpt to the class:
Even if women do continue working full-time after having
children, they dont work as many hours as men working
full time. They take time off to take the kids to the doctor,
pick them up from school, dont work as many nights and
weekends ... how can you expect employers to pay them the
Ask the students the following:
Were the women that you interviewed more likely to
take time off work to attend to their childs needs than
the fathers were?
What do you think could be done about this problem?
8. Ask the class to envision the following scenario: A letter
to the editor appeared in todays newspaper. The letter
says that the wage gap is a myth. The writer says that women
don't get paid as much as men because they don't deserve to
be paid as much as men. He goes on to say that most women arent
as experienced as men and havent worked at their jobs
as long as men have; therefore dont deserve to make as
much money as men.
Ask the students to use the information they have learned from
reading this article and write a letter responding to the editor
entitled The Wage Gap is Not a Myth.
ACTIVITY THREE: THE THIRD WAVE
Your students will soon be out in the workforce, and unless
a miracle occurs, the females will be earning less money than
males. This lesson looks at what students can do about this
problem on a personal, national and international level.(Students
may work individually or in small groups for this project.)
1. Write the following message on the board and discuss it
with your class: You will soon be out in the workforce. Do you
think it is fair that females of your generation will most likely
still be earning less money than males?
2. How will a womens equality amendment help women economically?
Read Patricia Irelands Womens Less Than Full
Equality Under the U.S. Constitution section of the NOW
Web site. (Another option would be to print the information
from the site and make copies.) http://now.org/issues/economic/cea/ireland.html
Ask students to do the following after reading the information:
Record three interesting historical facts from the
How will the passing of a womens equality amendment
help women economically?
Read the following statement from the Web site: We
look to the young women and men who are addressing issues
of equality and justice in high schools across the country.
We are confident that this third wave will soon
be ready to accept the baton.
Ask students what they know about the third
wave and have each student or group generate a list
of things their generation can do in the fight for equal rights.
Share and discuss the results recording the responses on the
board or on chart paper.
3. Have students read The Facts About Women and Work
http://www.academic.org/work.html. Then ask the students
to write a letter to a young girl, giving her advice on how
she could best be preparing herself to enter the workforce of
the future. Ask the students to explain the reasons behind the
advice they are giving.
4. Send students to What Parents Can Do at Home
(Another option would be to print the information and make copies
Ask students to write down at least 10 items that speak to
them on a personal level as they read the information. As a
class, discuss what students think of the suggestions on the
site. Ask them which of the listed suggestions are employed
in their own homes.
Have the students pick five different topics or points from
the site and write about them as they relate to their personal
5. Heifer Project International helps impoverished women worldwide.
Through a gift of livestock, women gain new confidence, because
they own property, and they become leaders in their community.
Send students to the Heifer Project International Web site to
learn more about this project. http://catalog.heifer.org/index.cfm.
Assign or allow students to choose one animal to research.
Have students answer the following questions:
What animal did you pick?
In what kinds of areas is this animal placed?
How does this animal benefit the area in which it
is placed? Why?
How does this animal have an impact on the economic
life of the owner?
Write a brief synopsis of the personal story of the
owner of this animal.
Share the results with the class.