1. Students will collect data which portrays women in the media.
2. Students will discuss the values underlying the portrayal
of women in media.
3. Students will conduct Internet research.
4. Students will critique varied media portrayals of women.
5. Students will write a letter expressing their viewpoints.
6. Students will complete a survey.
7. Students will create a mock television commerical.
8. Students will read two versions of the fairy tale Cinderella
and discuss the cultural assumptions about women that are evident
9. Students will research, discuss and critique the role of
toys in popular culture.
ACTIVITY ONE: A CRITICAL LOOK
This activity centers on a Web site that focuses on how
women are portrayed in advertisements. It contains a gallery
of advertisements and what the authors find objectionable about
1. Share the following Web site with the class: http://www.about-face.org./.
Click on http://www.about-face.org./gallery/index.html
and discuss the ads.
2. Divide the class into small discussion groups. Have the
groups review each using the following questions as guides:
Are women portrayed in a positive manner?
Does the advertisement contain an overt or underlying
threat of violence?
Is there a realistic connection between the actual
product and the woman in the ad? (e.g., a scantily clad woman
selling a software program).
Many advertisements fail to show women looking directly
into the camera. What do you think some of the reasons for
this might be? Are the women in your ads looking into the
What are the larger cultural values that each advertisement
3. Have each group present the content of their discussion
to the whole class.
4. Ask each student to choose one advertisement (either from
the Web site or from the class collection) and complete one
of theses writing tasks.
Write a letter about the ad to a fourth- or fifth-
grade girl, explaining your view of what it says about women.
Write a letter to one of the advertisers expressing
your views of their advertisement.
ACTIVITY TWO: HOW MUCH HAVE THINGS CHANGED?
Many students hold the perception that things have changed
dramatically for women since the beginning of the 1900s. In
this activity, students are encouraged to think critically about
the idea that in todays world women are judged solely
on their accomplishments.
1. Show the segment from Half the People that contains the
Maxwell House coffee advertisement (about seven minutes into
Ask the students the following questions:
What do you think these advertisements say about women?
How are womens roles different today?
2. Ask the students if they agree or disagree with the following
In todays world women are judged solely on the
basis of their accomplishments.
3. a) Write the following statements on the board and
have the students copy them.
I dress to please ________________.
If a friend criticizes my looks, I _________________.
I think beauty pageants are ____________________.
I think fashion magazines are _____________________.
People who pay attention to their looks are _____________.
I am attracted to people who ___________________.
b) Divide the class into pairs to share their answers with
4. Rewrite the Maxwell House ad.
5. Divide the class into small groups. Ask each group to create
a list of factors by which people can measure their performance
as employees. (e.g., attitude, motivation, punctuality, knowledge,
6. Create a class list based on the individual groups
7. Visit the Web site of the Miss America Pageant at http://www.missamerica.org/
Review the categories in which contestants are judged. Compare
this list with the list generated in number 6 above.
8. Discuss the differences between the lists. Ask the class
what role they think gender plays in how people are judged.
9. Revisit the advertisements that students brought to class
and discuss students views as to whether advertisements
have substantially or fundamentally changed since the 1950s
based on their viewing of Half the People.
10. Have students write and act out a current version of the
Maxwell House commercial that reflects their understanding of
womens roles today.
ACTIVITY THREE: EXPECTATIONS AND FAIRY TALES
1. Students should respond to the following question in their
What are your expectations for the division of gender
roles in relationships?
Divide the class into pairs and have them share their responses.
2. Read and listen to a traditional version of Cinderella
from the Web site http://www.hiyah.com/library/cinderella.html.
3. Share with the class Ellen Jacksons book Cinder
Edna, which compares the traditional story of Cinderella
with the nontraditional story of Cinder Edna, who takes a more
active role in her own happiness.
4. Create a class chart comparing the two tales.
5. Discuss the underlying assumptions about gender expectations
that each tale represents.
6. Small groups should share what they have learned with the
ACTIVITY ONE: SPORTSWOMEN
1. Visit the Web site Sports Illustrated for Women at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/siforwomen/
and write a critique of how women are portrayed.
2. Find an advertisement or Web site that shows a different
portayal of women than the Sports Illustrated for Women site.
Present your findings to the whole class.
ACTIVITY TWO: INFLUENTIAL WOMEN THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
1. Have students read a biography of an influential woman and
prepare a Womens Hall of Fame display for the class. Amelie
Weldens Girls Who Rocked the World is a good source
to begin with.
ACTIVITY THREE: EXPANDING THE DREAM
1. Read the book Fannys Dream, by Caralyn Buehner,
which is a modern twist on the fairy tale Cinderella.
Create an artistic response that represents your interpretation
of the book.