Collage featuring the titles of TSP’s Partner and Community Pages, all of which afford high-interest and accessible sociological content that’s great for teaching.

Previously we posted “Using TSP to Teach Online.” This week we’re featuring content from our partner and community pages. In addition to producing in-house content, The Society Pages is an online hub for blogs written and curated by other social scientists. We can’t feature them all here, but you can find the full list at the bottom of our homepage.

Sociological Images” is designed to encourage people to exercise and develop their sociological imagination by presenting brief discussions of compelling and timely imagery that spans the breadth of sociological inquiry.

Contexts”  is a sociology magazine produced by the American Sociological Association. 

Council on Contemporary Families” shares research and best-practice findings on American families. 

Give Methods a Chance” is a series of conversations about research methods, demystifying how we know what we ‘know’.

Engaging Sports,” provides sociologically-informed analysis to help readers think about sports in a way that goes beyond the scores, highlights, and statistics.

Cyborgology” reflects on the promise and perils of living in constant contact with technology.

Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies” at the University of Minnesota promotes academic research, education and public awareness on the Holocaust, other genocides and current forms of mass violence.

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting for the University of Minnesota’s SOC 8090 course, also known as TSP’s graduate editorial board.

As instructors move their courses online, we at The Society Pages want to help out by offering a guide to our site. We have lots of sociological content that can be used in teaching, from new research coming out of journals to podcast interviews with sociologists. We strive to make our content clear, concise, and public-facing — perfect for undergraduates! 

What kind of content do we have? (and how can you use it to teach?)

There’s Research on That!” – In this blog, we curate sociological research that speaks to things that are happening in the world.

  • Have students read “#SayHerName and Black Women’s Experiences with Police” for an overview of research on Black women’s experiences with police, including distrust of police and the challenges that come with motherhood. Then, ask them to respond with a short post about the racialized and gendered challenges that lie ahead in developing police-community trust.

Discoveries” – In this blog, we review new and exciting research coming out of peer-reviewed journals, vetted and summarized by our graduate editorial board. 

  • Have students think about which groups are having more same-sex sex and register their hypotheses through an online poll (available in Zoom or Google Hangouts). Then have them read “Who Is Having More Same-Sex Sex?, a summary of new research in Gender & Society that shows that younger people demonstrate more same-sex sexual behavior than older people, with a greater increase for women and black men. Finally, encourage them to explain why they think women are reporting more same-sex sex by collectively editing a set of google slides. 

Teaching TSP” – We produce a variety of teaching-related posts, from classroom activities and assignments, to new research published on teaching and learning.

Features” – Long-form articles meant to give a broad, social scientific view on an issue or topic without the usual academic jargon. This category includes white papers, special features, and roundtables. Roundtables bring together several sociologists and social scientists to give context to what’s happening in the world. 

Office Hours” – Podcast conversations with sociologists about their research, often from recently published books. 

Clippings” – When sociologists’ work gets picked up by the news, we highlight the coverage. These articles emphasize the usefulness of sociological thinking for understanding real-world events.

Editors Desk” – Writing by our Editors in Chief, Doug Hartmann and Chris Uggen, as well as our weekly roundups where you can read what we’ve published that week. You can sign up for our roundups HERE

How can I find the content I’m looking for? 

  1. Use the search icon (looks like a magnifying glass) in the top right corner of the banner at the top of the page. You can search by keyword, blog name, or author name. 
  2. Search on a specific blog. From each blog’s page you can use the search icon (usually a magnifying glass) to search only content on that specific blog. For example, from the “Discoveries” page, you can search only “Discoveries” posts. You’ll also notice on the “Discoveries” and “There’s Research on That” pages, you can also search by category.
  3. Browse our topics pages. On the homepage, you’ll notice tabs labeled with different topic areas commonly studied by sociologists (health, gender, crime, etc.). Each topic page features curated content at the top of the page, recent posts that relate to that topic on the lower left side of the page, and places to find data and news about that topic on the lower right side of the page (if you are using the desktop site). 

Photo by Heather, Flickr CC

If you’re anything like me, when you need a break from your work, you spend some time binge watching TV. Of course, I only watch the most intellectually stimulating shows — which brings me to The Great British Baking Show. Over my holiday break, I watched all six seasons and the holiday special. While this isn’t my proudest accomplishment, it did get me thinking about student feedback and The Great British Baking Show as a pedagogical model.

Photo of Paul Hollywood by helen, Flickr CC

If you haven’t seen the show, the set-up is that in each episode, the bakers have three baked goods that are judged before one of the contestants is eliminated. The bakers know about and plan for two of the challenges, but the third is a surprise. As you can imagine, each week there is a range of success, and therefore a range of feedback given.

Over the course of the episodes, I began to notice that judge Paul Hollywood stood out — not just for his icy, blue eyes but also for the comments he made and the advice he gave the contestants each week. Paul is especially efficient and concrete in his feedback to contestants. Paul and Mary Berry, the other judge, follow many of the tactics that research shows to be best practices in providing effective feedback. I want to highlight a few of them.

  • Be specific. Research shows that specific feedback is more effective than general feedback in helping students reach certain goals (Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Locke & Latham, 1984). Specific feedback encourages the student to really focus on that specific task for future assignments. This is something that I noticed immediately on the Great British Baking Show. For example, if a baker presents a four-tiered cake with three different cake batters, two types of icing, and various other flavored decorations, the judges don’t just say “good job.” Instead, they comment on each individual flavor, texture, and aspect of the visual presentation, letting the baker know that his or her cake was moist but the flavor left something to be desired or that the decorations were pretty but had an off-putting texture.
  • Give weight to what is most important. As faculty, we try to do this with our rubrics. We need to make sure that we allocate more points to the aspects that we think are most important. This gives our students information about what they should focus on when completing their assignments. The judges in the show also do this. Throughout all of the seasons, they focus on flavor. While the appearance of each baked good matters, they are more concerned with what it tastes like. On numerous occasions, Paul mentions that some bakers are concerned more with “style over substance.” This shows that the judges prioritize the taste and flavor of the food. As faculty, we need to do decide what the most important learning outcome is and focus on it within our rubrics and grading.
  • Help students advance. Hattie and Timperley (2007) also encourage faculty to provide specific feedback that helps students work toward their ultimate goal. We need to use proactive language to help students further their work. Paul and Mary do this with each of the contestants. After tasting their food and giving specific feedback on each aspect, they provide information about how to improve. For example, if Paul notices that a cake is “too close-textured” or has cracked, he may advise the baker to knead the dough less or prove the dough more. (I say this like I have any idea what that means)
  • Ask pointed questions. Throughout the seasons, the judges ask specific questions of the contestants. For example, Paul may notice the bakers rolling the dough or braiding their plaited bread in a non-traditional way. He is known to stop and ask the contestants about the benefits of their method. In order to answer the questions, the baker is forced to think through their knowledge of baking basics. The same goes for our students. By including specific questions in our feedback, we encourage students to think and formulate ideas for themselves.

I know we all get crunched for time and fall back on our go-to grading phrases. But as our semester progresses and the papers start rolling in, I plan to think about The Great British Baking Show. Paul and Mary really do offer great examples of specific, proactive feedback — much better than a simple “good job.”

Dr. Andrea Krieg is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Elmhurst College. She earned her PhD from Bowling Green State University in Sociology. She teaches a variety of courses and loves her time in the classroom.

The winning submission for this year’s ‘Teach with TSP’ Contest features a semester-long project for Introduction to Sociology courses by Clare Forstie. In this project, students develop their own “There’s Research on That!” article. Below, Forstie shares guidelines for the project, a detailed timeline, and a peer review worksheet and rubric. Congrats, Clare!

The Basic Idea (for students)

You’ll be writing a short blog post in the style of a specific sociology blog, “There’s Research On That!” ( According to the TROT website, the TROT blog’s goal is “Offering up great research from across the social sciences that speaks to the big events of the day.” The aim of this project is to familiarize yourself with sociological research on a topic or question important to you, then summarize that research in a compelling way for a public audience. Before finalizing your blog post, you’ll review and summarize TROT blog posts most relevant to your interests, formulate your topic and question, find and summarize sociological articles that speak to your question, and draft your blog post for in-class peer review. Each portion of this six-part project will be due throughout the semester, and specific instructions for each part may be found below.


Dr. Clare Forstie is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Farmingdale State College, and she is transitioning into a position at the Center for Educational Innovation at the University of Minnesota in January of 2020. Her research and teaching interests include gender and sexuality, community, identities, emotions, and technology, as well as queer and feminist theories and methodologies.

Image from rear of stadium seat lecture hall facing forward, photo by nikolayhg, pixabay CC

Jessica A. Cebulak and John F. Zipp. 2019. “Using Racial and Class Differences in Infant Mortality to Teach about White Privilege: A Cooperative Group Activity.” Teaching Sociology

White college students often struggle to understand, recognize, and learn about white privilege. Many students prefer a “color-blind” approach that denies racial inequalities altogether. Although there are other teaching strategies that try to overcome this, too many simply shift the conversation to inequalities in social class. These strategies fail to address the complicated relationship between race and class. As a result, students struggle to understand, for instance, why affluent, well-educated Black women still have higher infant mortality in the United States than low income, poorly educated white women.

Recent experimental research by Jessica Cebulak and John Zipp tests a new method for teaching about white privilege. The researchers designed an intervention to find out whether exposure to white privilege instruction through cooperative learning, group exercises increases understanding of white privilege for everyone. Then, they brought their intervention to the classroom, providing students with two days of videos, targeted instruction, and small group discussion on race and white privilege, followed by a semester-long cooperative learning group activity. To see whether the intervention was effective, the researchers tested students’ racial attitudes at the beginning and at the end of the semester.

The key finding of their study is that white students’ awareness of white privilege and understanding of racial inequality increased when they were taught in a mixed-race, cooperative learning setting. Students of color also had significantly greater understanding of the concept of white privilege after the intervention, though experienced stressful emotions when working in groups with white students. Instructors need to consider whether the potential benefits outweigh the potential impact and emotional stress these types of interactions have on students of color.

The 2018 ‘Teach with TSP’ Winning Submission. Click to view full post.

Here at The Society Pages we are committed to making sociology accessible and clear to everyone, and we’d like to honor the people who are taking TSP from the web to the classroom! To do this, we’re announcing the second annual “Teach with TSP” Contest. Tell us how you use TSP in your classes — whether as part of an assignment, lecture, or discussion activity —and we’ll publish our favorites and share them widely with our followers!

Any TSP content is fair game, from core to community pages, CCF to Cyborgology, TROT, Discoveries, Sociological Images, and more. Winners will have their work featured on the site and get some TSP swag!

To submit your nomination, send a short overview (no longer than one page) on how you use TSP materials in an assignment, classroom activity, or lecture to with the subject line “Teach with TSP Submission.” Feel free to attach pictures or sample materials as well! The deadline for submissions is Friday November 16, 2019.

Four young adults stand in a circle facing each other. They are all smiling. One is holding a piece of paper.
Photo by US Coast Guard Academy, Flickr CC

As a sociology instructor, I have been thinking about how ice breakers can be used for students to get to know each other and to seamlessly move into course content. There are a lot of good ideas for ice breakers online, including some that do a great job of building community in the classroom. However, I find myself moving away from them because they seem to be a one-trick pony.

Here are three examples of ice breakers that could be used to connect students with each other, as well as slide right into sociological content.

The Machine by Viola Spolin of Hull-House

Hull-House educators, Viola Spolin and Neva Boyd, used improvisation and theater games to help their students, who were often immigrants, become “fuller participants in democratic society.” The games created new ways to for immigrants to connect with each other, even if they had different cultures and backgrounds.

One of Viola Spolin’s activities was to have a team of people create a “machine.” Each person in the activity is a single “part” of the machine. It starts with one person making any motion and accompanying sound. It must be something that they can repeat over a few minutes. Then someone else adds another part to the machine, specifically, a motion and sound that works in reaction to the first motion and sound. Then someone else adds in another part and then another. The machine can speed up or slow down, adding a level of silliness.

Postcard image shows a large brick building with many windows on a street corner. The top corner of the postcard reads, The Hull House, Chicago.
Postcard of Hull House in the early 20th century. Wikipedia, public domain

With the right class, this would be a great way to break the ice during the beginning of class. In addition to being fun, this activity can be used to introduce a variety of topics. For instance, I might use this at the start of a Juvenile Delinquency class as a way to introduce the history of the juvenile justice system. Jane Addams and the entire Progressive Era are important because they reacted to the brutality found in the Houses of Refuge — all covered in my Juvenile Delinquency course. This activity could also be used in social work classes to introduce Jane Addams and various perspectives on helping people, or in a Methods class that uses the “Maps and Papers Nationality Map” to talk about early scholarly studies. Lastly, you could use this activity in an Introduction to Sociology course to illustrate the interconnectedness of society and its institutions.

Deviant Behavior Notecards

In this activity, I write down ten different deviant and criminal behaviors that range in seriousness from leaving a dog in a closed car to physical assault to using someone else’s Netflix account when you aren’t paying for it. Depending on the size of the class, I divide the students into small groups of three to six and give each group the same set of ten cards and ask them to place them in order from most to least serious. All group members must agree on the order. It gets the groups talking, and they always laugh about certain behaviors and how they think that they aren’t serious even though they know that they are.

After they have organized their list, I ask the students to identify three themes that they used to organize the list. Usually, they include things like the punishment that would come with the behavior, the harm done to the possible victim, and the moral consequences of the behavior. This leads me into a discussion about the social construction of deviance and how we determine what is deviant and what is criminal. I also use this as a way to teach students about the difference between deviance and criminality. You could use this second activity after the first, or on its own. In small groups, students separate the behaviors into a Venn diagram with sections for criminal behaviors, deviant behaviors, and then behaviors that are both. This activity could also be used in a Juvenile Delinquency, Criminology, or Deviance course.

Zoom Puzzles

This activity draws on children’s books called Zoom and Re-Zoom. These books have also been used as a form of team building by Launch Leadership and Andrea Johnson. In order to prepare for this ice breaker, you need to create the sequential pieces based off of the children’s books. Each piece should include one image. The next piece then consists of the previous image within another image. You can see an example with the roosters from the book below. You could also create your own Zoom puzzle. Once your puzzle is created, depending on your class size, you could split the class into small groups of four to six people. Give each group the same puzzle and simply ask them to solve the puzzle. They will need to piece together the story from the puzzle pieces.

At first, students look at the pieces and think that it’s a jigsaw puzzle so they start to move the pieces around. Eventually, someone notices that there is a similar image in multiple puzzle pieces. For example, as seen above, in Zoom, there is a rooster that shows up on numerous puzzle pieces from different vantage points. At that point, they start to realize that it is the same scene across all of the pieces; it is just further and further zoomed in. In order to complete the activity, students have to arrange the images from the farthest out to the closest in.

This is a fun activity for students because it gets them out of their seats and because there is something tangible for them to move around on their desks. They talk with each other and laugh once they realize how to solve the puzzle. This activity could be used in an Introduction to Sociology course to introduce the Sociological Imagination and the idea that students need to “zoom out” and look at the structural influences on their lives and behaviors. Personally, I would use this in a Juvenile Delinquency class to talk about the differences between macro- and micro-level theories. This would help students understand the differences in theories of crime and what these theories focus on as reasons for criminal behavior. I think it would work in a similar way in a sociological theory course.

We, as sociology instructors, often rely on ice breakers as a way to lay the foundation for active learning or future discussions, and I think that we could make them even more useful. I hope that one of these ideas may be helpful for you, not only to help students connect, but to help you to move directly into course content too.

Dr. Andrea Krieg is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Elmhurst College. She earned her PhD from Bowling Green State University in Sociology. She teaches a variety of courses and loves her time in the classroom.

Photo looking down on a person climbing up the side of a rock face. The person is wearing a blue helmet and a long sleeve shirt and is holding onto the rock with two hands.
Photo by Laurel F, Flickr CC

With the recent Oscar win for Free Solo, many students are likely to be interested in rock climbing. Jennifer Wigglesworth’s research and recent post on Engaging Sports about the sexism in rock climbing route names provides a perfect way to think about established concepts using popular culture phenomenon.

This is an interactive activity designed to get students out into their own communities and seeing them with new eyes. During this three-part activity, students will think about history and specifically how naming practices privilege or marginalize certain groups and histories. The activity begins with a critical examination of a pop culture concept — rock climbing — and then asks students to broaden that idea by examining the geography they circulate every day. The lesson concludes with an academic reading on the broader history of imperial naming practices in the United States. This activity would be good for Introduction to Sociology, Sociology of Gender, Race and Ethnicity, Sociology of Sport, Sociology of Culture, Theory, and Urban Sociology.


You bring:

  • copies of the two suggested readings
  • white board and markers for report back and discussion
  • physical or virtual map

Students bring:

  • copies of the two suggested readings
  • notes on what sources they consulted and what they found

The Activity

  1. Assign Jennifer Wigglesworth’s “What’s in a name? Sexism in rock climbing route names” to be read by students in advance.  
  2. Discuss the reading in class. Focus on students’ reactions. Were they surprised? Upset? Do they feel like there is something about the rock climbing environment that lends itself to these sexist naming practices or have they had similar experiences elsewhere? The discussion does not need to be long but should give students a chance to talk through their feelings about the piece.
  3. Place students into groups of 4 and assign each group to find 3 local place/site names to research: at least one should be on campus, and at least one should be off campus. You may want to divide up a map. This activity could be done either between class periods, students could leave class during a long class period, or they could do it virtually over the internet. It is ideal if students physically walk or drive around and find the place names to research however so that they are seeing their environment with new eyes.

For each place/site name, each group should answer the following:

  • What is the name?
    • Who named it? When? What is the history of the name?
    • What does the name mean?
    • Note: you may want to discuss in advance what sources of information are appropriate for this activity in advance. Because of the local nature of this activity, I would suggest that any source that students can find would be OK (for example, Wikipedia will probably be very helpful) but they should be encouraged to keep track of what sources they consult.
  • In class, have each group report back their findings. Probe the groups for any thoughts or reactions. What surprised them? Do not be disappointed at this point if most groups did not notice anything surprising or problematic. Part of the exercise is to discuss why we might not initially find a place name problematic, but as we dig deeper we may find troubling roots.
  • Assign students to read C. Richard King’s chapter “De/Scribing Sq*aw: Indigenous Women and Imperial Idioms in the United States,” from Unsettling America, 2013, Rowman and Littlefield, pp 93-106. 
  • After students have read King’s chapter, use it to revisit the previous two discussions with them. What might the group have missed, and why? Looking at King’s examples, are there local examples that seem less innocuous now? Is there anything in Wigglesworth’s research that parallels the history that King describes? In this discussion, using King’s helpful example of people’s differing awareness and reaction to sq*aw, focus on exploring with students how racism and sexism become embedded in place.

Possible modifications

For methods or other upper level courses, students could be assigned to mimic Wigglesworth’s research and conduct interviews or surveys to understand how people negotiate the meaning of problematic place names in their community.

Additional resources

Dr. Meghan Krausch studies race, gender, disability, and other forms of marginalization throughout the Americas and in particular how grassroots communities have developed ways to resist their own marginalization. Read more of Meg’s writing at The Rebel Professor or get in touch directly at

Lit-up sign by the road that reads, US Border Patrol.
Photo by Jonathan McIntosh, Flickr CC

Teaching about immigration can be tough because students come to our classrooms with the battle lines already drawn and believing their minds are already made up. We know, for example, that “the border” occupies a large conceptual space in our collective minds and that certain racialized populations suffer from perceptions of illegality. I have successfully re-centered my classroom conversation in a more constructive direction by starting with something most students seem to have a complete lack of information about: how the U.S. immigration system actually works.

Below I share some resources and ideas for leading an hour long discussion on “everything you wanted to know about the immigration system but were afraid to ask.” The activity below would be a great fit for any course where you are going to spend several class days on migration in the United States: Global Sociology, Social Problems, Migration, Race & Ethnicity, or Crime & Deviance. This activity is intended to take advantage of the fact that a classroom is a special place designated for learning, where everyone (including the instructor) can always learn something new without feeling embarrassed of our ignorance.


You bring:

  • White board and marker
  • Projector/internet/resources to look at a website in class
  • Links to resources on immigration you want to show (suggested below)
  • You’ll probably want a printed copy of the immigration preferences and especially yearly numerical limits handy for your own reference (you may also want a few extra copies to pass around)

Students bring:

In-Class Activity

  1. Ask students what questions they have about the immigration system. Write the questions on the white board as students say them out loud.
  2. When you have a good number of questions on the board, including some basic ones, start with the most basic questions and begin answering them. Do this based on your own knowledge and, when helpful or necessary, show the students the immigration preference system and yearly numerical limits. Other resources for answering the questions can be found at the American Immigration Council Immigration 101 and, of course, the Department of Homeland Security. The fact that the DHS website is a bit complex and it may be hard to find the answer to many of the students’ questions is OK; that will be educational and make the larger point about the immigration system.
  3. Ask if anyone has ever traveled to another country. Ask the student(s) who answers where it was, what happened when they entered that country, whether they needed a passport, etc. Prompt the group to think about what would happen in the converse situation if a person from that country came into the United States. Would the same kind of situation occur? (It is important at some point in this conversation to encourage students to get at the fact that the U.S. has more power internationally than anyone else; we can go almost anywhere without applying for a visa in advance but the opposite is not true. This fact is invisible to most of us.)
  4. If there are other questions that seem essential to you, prompt the students to ask them or ask the students yourself to see if anyone knows the answer. It is essential to this exercise that your class understands that for the vast majority of migrants to the United States, there is not only no “legal path to citizenship,” there is no legal path to entry. I have found by having these discussions that most of my students did not understand the difference between citizenship and visas.

Discussion Tip

As you are standing in front of the room fielding questions, be sure to remember to acknowledge that some folks in the room may have more knowledge of the system (e.g., international or immigrant students), but do not make anyone feel as if they need to speak about their experiences or act as though they are experts. I think it is enough to say that of course some of us may have experienced this first hand. Some migrant or international faculty may talk about their own experiences while others may want to avoid that. It is my own belief that those of us who are white and U.S. born should take on the task of teaching these lessons so that others are not put in the awkward position of fielding these potentially hostile or awkward questions on their own.

Possible Variations

One way to vary this activity would be to assign the questions to different groups in the class and have each group research the answers on the Department of Homeland Security website. A possible pitfall of this is that many of the answers can be a little detailed, confusing, and interrelated, so the instructor would need to keep an eye on making sure there is plenty of time for debriefing and not too much time spent in the groups.

It is also a great idea to spend a little time either at the beginning or end of this class period simply learning about the experiences of undocumented migrants in the United States. This can be done through a video like this one or assigning a reading; if done in advance, a video or reading could be a great way to get the questions for this activity started with some curiosity toward learning more about what we don’t understand about immigration status.

Additional Resources

“Drop the I Word” resources for help discussing why “illegal” is not an appropriate term in a sociology classroom (or journalism)

Visual example of the Latinx experience from SocImages

Contexts “in brief” on the additional stresses experienced by undocumented parents

Dr. Meghan Krausch studies race, gender, disability, and other forms of marginalization throughout the Americas and in particular how grassroots communities have developed ways to resist their own marginalization. Read more of Meg’s writing at The Rebel Professor or get in touch directly at

Photo of a sign depicting a stick figure in a dress outside of a women’s restroom. Photo by Brendan Riley, Flickr CC

Like many instructors of the sociology of gender and feminist theory, I teach Simone de Beauvoir’s foundational text, “Introduction to the Second Sex.” Not only is Beauvoir part of the feminist cannon, but in some ways it seems even more relevant in today’s sociology classroom as Beauvoir deconstructs the very category of “woman.” She provides fertile groundwork for anyone looking to teach about sex and gender beyond the constructed gender binary. Unfortunately the reading can be a little difficult for undergraduate students to digest; this is where Sociological Images comes to the rescue! In this activity the instructor will show students contemporary, everyday examples of Beauvoir’s concept of women as “other” and engage them in a discussion about its continued relevance. This active and visual engagement is designed to incorporate Beauvoir into students’ working vocabulary.

This activity is ideal for Sociology of Gender and classes that teach feminist theory, but it could be modified for use in classes that explore gender in smaller doses like Family or Introduction to Sociology.


You bring:

  • Projector/internet/resources to look at a website in class
  • Links to the Sociological Images posts you want to show

Students bring:

  • Copy of Beauvoir’s “Introduction to the Second Sex,” assigned in advance


  1. Assign Simone de Beauvoir’s “Introduction to the Second Sex” to be read by students in advance.
  2. Open the class by discussing the reading a little bit so that the main questions and topics are in the foreground of students’ minds. This could also be done by lecturing for the first section of class if that better suits your teaching style. For example, I ask the students to identify some of the key sentences of the reading, and what they think Beauvoir’s key question is. There are of course many important concepts in this reading, and in order to stimulate a comfortable discussion, it’s important to just let students nominate any and all sentences and ideas.
    The ideas that I’ll focus on in the next steps are Beauvoir’s concept of woman as “other,” or, as she says, “A man is in the right in being a man; it is the woman who is in the wrong” (xxi); and “thus humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him” (xxii). Keep going until someone comes up with this; you can leave other questions and concepts that come up here on the backburner to come back to later in this class to see how the reading fits together as a whole.
  3. Once you have students puzzling over this idea of women as other, pull up this post from Sociological Images for your class. The SocImages team refers to this same concept as “women versus people.”
  4. Expand each image in the post one at a time by clicking on it and ask the students “what do you see?” I do not show my students the pre-written analysis on the post but ask them to do the analytic work together in our discussion. Allow the students to start to discussing and problematizing each image out loud as a group as you go through each one by one.
  5. At the bottom of the post there are links to more; two of my favorites are scientists and females scientists and Body Worlds, although that example is not visual and will have to be read in advance and explained.
  6. Throughout this discussion it is important to clarify that the problem is not necessarily the segregation of the items or that there are separate women’s items (t-shirts are a great example here); it’s that, just as Beauvoir describes, one item is for “everybody,” while another item is specifically for women. Are women not part of everybody? You can draw the students back into a discussion of Beauvoir and her continued relevance today by engaging the question of what is hidden under these universal categories. How does one dominant group remain unmarked while others end up marked?

Possible modifications

  • You could also give an assignment to students after this exercise to find their own local examples. (I have often had students come back and tell me in later class periods that they couldn’t stop seeing this concept at work in the world.) This could work well for discussion board posts, or an extra credit assignment, especially if coupled with a short paragraph explaining how the visual/example they found illustrates the concept with citations from the reading.

Additional resources

TROT on the Social Construction of Gender and Sex

A list of 5 reasons why pointlessly gendered products are a problem (even if they aren’t “women vs people”) from Sociological Images

A different example to illustrate the broader concept of how privilege operates for those in the “unmarked” group from Sociological Images


Dr. Meghan Krausch studies race, gender, disability, and other forms of marginalization throughout the Americas and in particular how grassroots communities have developed ways to resist their own marginalization. Read more of Meg’s writing at The Rebel Professor or get in touch directly at