print Print    Share Share  

Women's History Teacher's Guide

Five-Day Lesson Plan

The Struggle for Women's Equality
The Origins and Ideas of the Contemporary Feminist Movement
The Accomplishments of the Modern Day Women's Movement
The Methods of the Women's Movement
The Continuing Struggle for Women's Rights

Day One: The Struggle for Women's Equality

In Preparation for Class:
· Have students read pages 1-35 of The Feminist Chronicles, the essay entitled "...a passion for the possible," and have them look at pp. 159-163, 247.

Materials Used in Class:
· NOW 20th Anniversary Show, Introductory Module (37 minutes)
· The Feminist Chronicles (pp.159-163, p. 247)

Goal: To help students understand the modern day contemporary struggle for women's equality, its origins, ideas, victories and losses, and to reflect on the women's movement's impact on their own lives.

Homework Assignments

1. Write a short essay on how the feminist movement has or has not impacted your life or your future. In writing the essay, think of the goals of the feminist movement for women's political, economic, and social equality.

2. Write an essay on what it means to be a feminist, which according to the dictionary is someone who supports political, economic, and social equality for women.

1. Introduce the Introductory Module of the videotape.

Includes the founding of NOW, its statement of purpose to encourage full participation of women in the mainstream of American life in full partnership with men, the segment on the defeat of the Vermont Equal Rights Amendment "We Will Never Give Up" and the fight for job equality for women.

The introduction could include the following commentary: "The modern day feminist movement in the United States was launched by President John F. Kennedy's appointment of a President's Commission on the Status of Women in 1961 at the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt, the former first lady of the United States, 1932-1945. Eleanor Roosevelt had been the first U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and was anxious for the U.S. to ratify the United Nations Human Rights Charter which called for women's equality.

"The first step was for the President to appoint a commission to review women's status. The President's Commission found massive discrimination against women in our laws, in employment, education, credit - in all walks of life. In 1966, at the Third Annual Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women, the Natinal Organization for Women was formed in response to the govemment's failure to enforce sex discrimination laws.

Take yourself back to the day when few women had the opportunity to be lawyers, doctors, police officers, telephone repair technicians... you name the job or profession... simply because they were women.

As you look at the video, think of the struggle of the "Wilmar 8" and their fight for promotions and equal pay - how has their struggle and the fight for women's equality helped you?"

2. Watch the first 37 minutes of the video.

3. Discussion: What are the goals of the movement as seen in the video?

* Political, social and economic equality for women.
* Ending discrimination against women in all aspects of life.
* Constitutional equality for women.
* Integration of male-only clubs.
* Election of women to political office.
* Increasing women's wages and job opportunities.
* Ending violence against women.
* Improving women's access to health care.
* Ensuring equal educational opportunities for women and girls.
* Improving the image of women in the media.
* Ensuring reproductive rights.
* Ending discrimination on the basis of sex, race, sexual orientation, marital status, physical disability, age, religion, creed, or ethnicity.

4. Are you surprised by the goals of the women's rights movement? Are they what you thought they would be?

Day Two: The origins and ideas of the contemporary feminist movement.

Materials Used in Class:
· The Feminist Chronicles (pp.39, 48-53, 103, 124)

Goal: Students will learn how social movements emerge - what events, which leaders and what circumstances produced the modern day women's movement.

Homework Assignment

Ask friends and family members to describe how the women's movement has affected their lives.

1. What events and which leaders inspired the emergence of the modern women's movement in the 1960's?

2. Discuss the role of the government and political officials in the development and growth of the second wave of feminism.

3. The Equal Rights Amendment has been a central priority for the women's movement from its introduction in 1923 until today. What would women gain from passage of the federal equal rights amendment? Why was the campaign to pass the ERA so crucial to the growth of the women's movement?

4. In view of your homework essay, the video and what we have read this week, on which issue would you choose to work if you were active in the women's movement ? Why would you choose this particular issue?

Day Three: The Accomplishments of the Modern Day Women's Movement

Materials Used in Class:
· NOW 20th Anniversary Show, Title IX (Sports) module
· The Feminist Chronicles (pp. 46-47, 62, 84, 144-145)

Goal: Students will identify how society and their own lives have changed as a result of the women's movement.

Homework Assignment:

Write a short essay on what you think has been the most important accomplishment of the modem day women's movement.

1. Review homework assignment. Discuss how the women's movement has influenced the lives of family members and friends.

2. Describe some of the specific accomplishments of the feminist movement over the past thirty years.

· Dramatically increasing the numbers of women in higher education including significantly improving the representation of women in medical, law, business, veterinary, engineering, dentistry, and architectural as well as Ph.D. programs.
· Integrating male clubs.
· Increasing the numbers of women and girls in sports.
· Developing strong public support for women's rights.
· Establishing affirmative action programs that expand job opportunities for women.
· Winning higher pay for women.
· Ending sex-segregated want ads.
· Legalizing abortion.
· Passing women's rights legislation such as Title IX of the Educational Amendments which prohibits sex discrimination in federally-funded educational institutions, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 which restored the effectiveness of Title IX after the Supreme Court gutted the law, the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991 which banned sex and race discrimination in employment, Equal Pay Act of 1963 which requires employers to pay women and men at the same rate for the same jobs, Equal Credit Act (1975) which banned discrimination in credit, and state equal rights amendments guaranteeing women constitutional equality, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 which prohibits job discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.

3. How do you think that a girl's life today is different from her mother's life or her grandmother's life? Why do you think things are different for girls today?

4. How has the women's movement helped men and boys?

5. Show Title IX segment of video. How did Title IX improve the lives of women and girls?

· Educational and athletic opportunities for women and girls expanded.
· More women and girls could participate in sports in school.
· More women became Olympic and professional athletes and more women won in competitions.
· Athletic scholarships for women increased.
· Participation in sports improved health of women and girls.
· Women and girls perceived as strong competitors.

6. What happened when the Supreme Court gutted Title IX, with their Grove City v. Bell decision?

· Schools cut back on educational and athletic opportunities for girls and women.
· Women's movement mobilized to overtum the Supreme Court decision with an act of Congress, the Civil Rights Restoration Act which passed in 1988.

Day Four: The Methods of the Women's Movement

Materials Used in Class:
· The Feminist Chronicles (pp. 55, 66, 98-100, 127, 135)

Goal: Students will identify the ingredients of the women's movement success - the tactics that the movement employs to achieve equality for women.

Homework Assignment:

Write an essay describing examples of inequalities between women and men that still exist at your school, in your home, or in your community.

1. Review homework assignment. Discuss the ways in which the feminist movement has reached people of all ages across the country.

2. What kind of methods or tactics did the feminist movement use to win greater equality for women on the job?

· Protests including strikes, pickets, and marches.
· Lawsuits against employers by women who have been discriminated against. - Federal legislation including the Equal Pay Act, the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988, and state equal rights amendments.
· Reform of rape and marital laws.
· Public education such as use of the media including television, radio and newspapers; mass mailings; and telephone and door-to-door canvassing. Using the "590" buttons (see above) to publicize the wage gap between male and female workers is an example of a public education strategy feminists used in 1981 as part of the drive for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
· Organizing people.
· Recruiting and electing public officials.
· State referenda campaigns.

3. Class Exercises:

Exercise I - Organizing for Women's Rights

Ask students to volunteer to participate in a role play exercise. Assign one set of students to be women's rights activists going door to door in a neighborhood asking residents to sign a petition in support of increasing funding for girl's athletics and to join a women's rights organization. Assign another set of students to be residents who answer the door.

Questions to class:

a. What were the most effective arguments the canvassers used?
b. Why did the residents sign or not sign the petition?
c. Why did the residents join or not join the organization?

Class Exercise 2 - Lobbying for Women's Rights

Ask students to volunteer to participate in a role play exercise. Assign one set of students to be women's rights advocates lobbying for a bill to increase women's job opportunities and another set of students to be legislators.

Questions to class:

a. What were the most effective arguments the women's rights advocates used?
b. Why did the legislators agree to support or decide to oppose the legislation?
c. What further steps can the women's rights advocates take to win the legislator's support?

Day Five: The Continuing Struggle for Women's Rights

· The Feminist Chronicles (pp. 150-156)

Goal: Students will examine current campaigns for women's equality, identifying future goals of the feminist movement and remaining obstacles to women's equality.

1. Review homework assignment. Discuss inequalities between women and men and boys and girls that students have identified.

2. Describe the areas in which women still need to achieve equality with men.

· Pay, hiring, and promotion.
· Safe access to abortion clinics free of violence.
· Easily available birth control and abortion services.
· Election of women to political office.
· Top management positions in business.
· Ending violence against women, both inside and outside the home.
· Strengthening affirmative action programs to increase the numbers of women and minorities in all fields such as police, construction, tenured professors, etc.

3. What are the obstacles to women's equality?

· Employers that benefit from underpaying women workers.
· Women are underrepresented in decision making positions such as in Congress and in corporate board rooms.
· Conservative organizations and religious groups that oppose equality for women beause they fear it will injure the traditional family.
· Enduring sexism, racism, and classism, as well as bias on the basis of sexual orientation or disability.

4. Discuss examples of discrimination against women or of sexism that you have experienced or observed.

a. Who was affected by this discrimination?
b. How did you and others respond?
c. What action could you take to change the situation?
d. What do you think is likely to happen if you take this course of action?