Psychology of Gender

Psychology 264; WGSS 264

Fall 2011


Professor:    Joan Ostrove

                                Olin-Rice 325




Office hours:   Wednesdays, 1–3 p.m., and by appointment



Welcome to the Psychology of Gender!  Although the existence of the psychology of gender as a specific way of thinking about and doing work in the field of psychology has only existed officially since around the time of the second wave of the U.S. women’s movement (that is, the early 1970s), its conceptual and empirical reach is both deep and wide and its history is (relatively) long.  The emergence of the psychology of gender in the U.S. was deeply influenced by feminism and the women’s movement; feminist perspectives will therefore be very prominent in this course.  Because gender operates and exists in virtually every dimension of our lives, pretty much every way of thinking about and doing psychology can also involve or be informed by an analysis of gender.  This class will introduce you to only some of the myriad ways in which psychologists and people in related disciplines have begun to understand the biological, psychological, social, and cultural meanings and implications of gender and its intersections with class, race, physical ability, sexuality, etc.  It is my expectation that you will be excited, challenged, frustrated, annoyed, and maybe occasionally bored by and with the material in the class.  I hope you will be inspired to learn more about and delve more deeply into this fascinating and important way of thinking about psychology.



Š          Understand a variety of feminist perspectives on psychology and psychological research

Š          Understand and analyze the ways in which theorists and researchers address issues of sexism and other forms of discrimination that affect people’s psychological experiences

Š          Apply knowledge beyond the classroom by analyzing the world around you using tools and concepts developed in this course




It is your primary responsibility to come to class prepared, having read and thought about the readings for the day.  This is a relatively reading-heavy course for an intermediate-level class, and you will be reading quite a bit of the “primary” literature in psychology (that is, you will be reading original research, not just summaries of it like you will read in the text book).  I don’t expect you to understand everything you’re reading (especially the sections of papers that describe the statistical analyses of data), but I do expect you to make your best attempt to read everything that is assigned and to ask questions in class or come to me for help when you don’t understand something or would like additional assistance.  During class time, participation may mean a lot of different things:  sharing your ideas and thoughts; listening well to others’ ideas; asking questions; connecting the course material to issues in your life or the lives of other people you know, and/or to issues on campus and in the world, etc. 


In addition, the course has the following requirements:



Percentage of final grade



    Essay #1 (gender socialization)


    Essay #2 (gendered bodies)


    Gender in the workplace


   Reaction papers


    Final project proposal and outline


    Final project



The following required books are available at the campus bookstore:

The following readings are available on the course Moodle site:



Class schedule (subject to change!)





Th, 9/8

Introduction to course and each other


Tu, 9/13

What is the psychology of gender?

Crawford, Ch 1

Th, 9/15

Meanings of difference, continued

Crawford, Ch 4

Landrine et al.

RP #1 due

Tu, 9/20

Gender, status, and power

Crawford, Ch 2

Th, 9/22

Meanings and implications of sex and gender

Crawford, Ch 5

Tu, 9/27

Growing up gendered

Crawford, Ch 6

Th, 9/29

No class:  Rosh Hashanah


Tu, 10/4


Martin (1998)

Wood et al.

Th, 10/6


Phoenix et al.

Tolman et al.

Morgan et al.

RP #2 due

Tu, 10/11

Constructing sexuality


Crawford, Ch 8


Th, 10/13

Constructing sexuality, continued


Tonight at 8 p.m.: “I ¤ Orgasm”

Martin (2009)

Chae & Ayala

Shapiro et al.

Tu, 10/18

Gendered bodies

Crawford, Ch 7

Essay #1 due

Th, 10/20

Gendered bodies, continued



Tu, 10/25

Bodies, health, and food

Guest:  Erica Rivera



RP #3 due

Th, 10/27

No class:  Fall break


Tu, 11/1


Crawford, Ch 11

Th, 11/3

Work, continued

Gender and work analysis due

Tu, 11/8

Images and stereotypes

Crawford, Ch 3

Th, 11/10

Film:  Killing Us Softly 4

Essay #2 due

Tu, 11/15

Covering (a form of “doing” gender, sexuality, race, etc.?)

Yoshino (to p. 141)

Th, 11/17

Covering, continued

Yoshino (p. 142 to end)


Tu, 11/22

Guest:  Keith Edwards

Final paper proposal due

Th, 11/24

No class: Thanksgiving break


Tu, 11/29

Power and violence



RP #4 due

Th, 12/1

Pornography and masculinity

Jensen (entire book)

Tu, 12/6

Gender and well-being

Crawford, Ch 13

Th, 12/8

Gender and well-being, continued

Schick et al.

Zucker & Landry

Tu, 12/13

Making a difference

Crawford, Ch 14

Fri, 12/16




All assignments must be turned in through the Moodle site.  Every assignment is due by 5 p.m. on the date noted, and the Moodle site will not accept late submissions (see the late work policy below).


Course policies:

Š          Accommodations for students with disabilities:  I will provide any reasonable accommodation for students with disabilities that will assist in making this course accessible and will provide an optimal educational experience for everyone. Please speak to me at the beginning of the semester so that we can make an effective plan.  See for additional information and assistance.

Š          Cell phones:  Please turn your cell phones and other mobile devices off or to a (completely) silent (vibrate is not silent!) mode while in class.  Except under extraordinary circumstances, you may not make or accept phone calls or text messages during class.  If you know you are expecting a call or text in an emergency situation, please try to let me know in advance of class that this may happen.  If you must take a call, do so quietly outside of the classroom.



Below are the guidelines I follow when assigning grades to essays and final papers.  I use plusses and minuses when the work falls in between the qualities associated with each letter grade.  Grades are based both on content and on writing style.  I encourage you to ask for help from me, the MAX Center, or any other reasonable source if you’d like assistance with writing.  Please acknowledge resources you use in a footnote to your paper.

o     “NC” grades are hardly ever given if a student has put even some work into the paper/essay.  However, if the content is totally irrelevant, or the writing is such that it is simply impossible for me to follow the arguments, then I would assign a failing grade.