Cornell University

March 25 2014

Equity on the Job

"The Gendered Workplace" draws lecturers across ILR disciplines

Infusing students with intellectual insight that will also serve them on a practical level is the goal of "The Gendered Workplace" course, according to Professor Ileen DeVault.

The learning covers a lot of ground, including sex segregation, norms of masculinity, race, disability, family, pay equity, bullying, union representation and the legal rights of workers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.

"I can tell you, they do leave with a different understanding of how gender impacts workplace experiences," said DeVault, who initiated development of the course with Workplace Issues Director KC Wagner of the Worker Institute.

The two-credit, pass-fail undergraduate course is part of the institute’s Equity at Work Initiative led by co-chairs DeVault and Wagner, and Assistant Professor Beth Livingston.

Equity at Work projects include research on restaurant employment, street harassment and the gendered nature of caregiving.

“The Gendered Workplace,” being taught this semester for the third time, points out gender issues that influence workplace cultures.

One student said the course prompted him, for the first time, to look at his world through the lens of gender differences.

The course, another said, "included some information I knew and a lot that I did not. More importantly, it made me think about all the information in a completely new way."

Several said they were inspired to learn about opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

The course grew from a meeting to which DeVault and Wagner invited colleagues engaged in gender-centric research and outreach.

Collectively, the group came up with "The Gendered Workplace," which features a guest lecturer each week.

Topics and presenters this year include:

  • pay disparities between men and women
    Institute for Compensation Studies Executive Director Linda Barrington
  • work-family issues
    Assistant Professor Beth Livingston
  • framing gender issues for economic development
    Professor Mildred Warner, M.S. CALS '85, Ph.D. CALS '97
  • the 2011 Wal-Mart class-action bias case
    Labor and Employment Law Program Director Esta Bigler '70
  • analysis of social networks to promote workplace gender equality
    Assistant Professor Brian Rubineau
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers in unions
    Professor and Associate Dean for External Relations Richard Hurd
    Online Labor Studies Director Linda Donahue
  • the legal rights of workers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender
    Senior Extension Associate Lee Adler
  • protections union contracts give women
    NYS AFL-CIO/Cornell Union Leadership Institute Co-Director Sally Alvarez
  • patterns of newly organized workers and those who organize them
    Labor Education Research Director Kate Bronfenbrenner, A&S '76, Ph.D. '93
  • how green jobs can help support gender equality in the workplace
    Worker Institute Associate Director Lara Skinner
  • the additional layer of difference that disability contributes to the gendered workplace
    Employment and Disability Institute Associate Nancy Hinkley
  • women in the workplace: exploring considerations of occupational safety
    Director of Workplace Health & Safety Programs, Lead Programs Manager Nellie Brown
  • the growing proportion and impact of women entrepreneurs
    Assistant Professor Michele Williams
  • sexual harassment as a form of workplace discrimination
    Workplace Issues Director KC Wagner
  • when and why women entered the modern workplace
    Professor Ileen DeVault