Perspectives on Gender Inequality in the Labor Force: Gloria Steinem & Sheryl Sandberg


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Scholars argue that we have reached a period of “stalled” gender equality at work: the wage gap between men and women persists, and men and women continue to be concentrated in different types of occupations with differential rewards. The literature on work and gender provides several supply-side and demand-side explanations for gender inequality in labor markets. On the supply side, theories include human capital explanations and gender role theory. On the demand side, scholars offer more structural explanations. In this exercise, students watch two videos presenting different explanations for and solutions to gender inequality in the U.S. labor market. One perspective is presented by Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer for Facebook, in an interview with 60 Minutes. The second perspective is presented in a PBS interview with Gloria Steinem, a noted feminist, activist, and journalist. After watching the videos, students discuss the similarities and differences in the perspectives and approaches from the videos, and will apply different theories for gender inequality, based on readings and class lecture, to the videos.


Resource Type(s):
Class Activity, Video 
Holly Straut Eppsteiner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Work and Labor Markets 
Class Level:
Class Size:

Usage Notes:

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This activity is appropriate for college students in classes covering topics related to the sociology of work and labor markets and sex and gender inequality. The total approximate time for this exercise is 55 minutes. This accounts for the run time of the two videos (23 minutes), plus 15 minutes...

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
1. Students will apply scholarly theories of gender inequalities in the labor market to real-world discourse.
Assessment 1:
1. Students will complete an in-class activity in small groups in which they apply scholarly theories of gender inequality in the labor market to explanations presented by Gloria Steinem and Sheryl Sandberg in two video clips.
Goal 2:
2. Students will be able to differentiate between “supply-side” and “demand-side” explanations of inequality
Assessment 2:
2. In small group guided discussions, students will specifically identify which of Sandberg’s and Steinem’s points focus on supply-side vs. demand-side explanations of inequality.
Goal 3:
3. Students will adjudicate between different theories of and solutions to gender inequality
Assessment 3:
3. In a class discussion, students will evaluate the strengths and limitations of each presenter’s proposed solutions.

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