Gender and Communication

Dr. Marcia D. Dixson

Building Bridges Between the Sexes

through Understanding of our Differences and Similarities



Return to homepage

Email Dr. Dixson


Spring, 2009

Office hours: TR 12:00 - 1:30; W 4:00-5:30 and by appt.
Office: NF 230B
Phone: 481-6558 Email:

Course objectives:

1) To understand the influence of sexist communication on thoughts and behaviors;
2) To recognize sexist practices in interpersonal, family, organizational and mediated contexts;
3) To value equality and fairness for men and women.

Teaching philosophy:

My job here is to facilitate your learning; to provide you with a variety of opportunities to learn the content of this course. That includes applying it to the "real world" and considering your own role in a gendered society. To achieve these goals, I am willing to work with any student who is willing to work as well. But, I expect you to work. If you do your part; i.e., come to class prepared, having read and considered the material, completed assignments thoroughly and on time, I absolutely enjoy doing my part. If you have questions or concerns about the class, assignments or content, you should consult with me about those either in person or via email. My services as a facilitator and guide come with the tuition you paid for the course, do not be shy about using them!

Course textbook:

text image

Ivy, D.K. & Backlund, P. (2008). Genderspeak: Personal Effectiveness in Gender and Communication. Fourth Edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Note: Be sure you get the new edition as both the third and fourth editions are in the bookstore.

Course requirements:

COM 410
Mini - projects (5): Teams
Gender Issues Project
90 - 93% A-
94 - 100% A
80 - 82% B-
83 - 86% B
87 - 89% B+
70 - 72% C-
73 - 76% C
77 - 79% C+
60 - 62% D-
63 - 66%; D
67 - 69% D+
0 - 59% F







Group mini-projects: You will be required to do five mini-projects which ask you to apply what you are learning to the rest of the world to see where/when sexist practices might still be going on. For each of these you will make a short presentation (around 10 minutes) and add what you have learned to your group webpage. These may include web or popular media based empirical research, they are not academic journal research projects. Grading criteria. Weblinks for group projects

Group webpage: A compilation of what your group has learned about the various topics of the mini-projects and what you present in your Gender Issues Presentation. This is part of the grade for each of these assignments.

Midterm and Final: Individual tests over the content in the book, class discussions and lectures, and all presentations of mini-projects, and your gender issues presentation. More detailed information to come.

Participation/Preparation: A good deal of what you will learn in this class will be from scholarly discussion with your peers. Therefore, attendance is important to your learning. Be here, be prepared, contribute! Most weeks there will be questions to guide your reading of the text chapters as well as occasional extra readings from the Internet. You are expected to have answers prepared for those questions although you, generally, will not be turning these in.

Gender issues group project: This is a research project (not a paper) and presentation (15 - 20 minutes) about a gender topic of interest to your group. It may be something we cover in class that you want to look into more deeply, it may be a topic we do not get to in class: i.e., women or gays in the military, gay marriage, discrimination in other nations, religious discrimination etc. This is a research (scholarly journal articles and academic books) based presentation. I encourage you to delve deeper into some of the sources your book mentions. It may also include original research (coding, interviews, surveys etc.) Grading criteria Information on outlines


Course policies:

Assignments: Papers are expected to be typed, double-spaced. Turn them in on time. Late assignments (papers, presentations etc.) (up to one class period) are subject to up to a 20% reduction of points (two letter grades). If you have a bona fide excuse (hospitalization, car accident etc.), talk to me.

Missed classes: If you cannot or do not attend class, get the notes from someone. Group presentation points can only obtained by being here and active. If you know you must miss class, talk to me and your group ahead of time. In case of emergency, call ASAP. Treat this like you would a job! Good work habits are an asset in many situations.

Grade complaint/question policy: Except in the case of error (I added wrong), all grades are final. I will be happy to discuss your grade, i.e., why you received it, how you can improve it the next time, etc. I won’t change it.

Civility expectations: While you are not required to agree with everyone's opinions, you are required to respect them in class. However, because you have an opinion, does not mean it is a valid opinion! Back up your statements with facts, direct experiences etc.

Helpful places on campus:
Services for Students with a Disability: If you have a disability or acquire one and want to find out about what special services and accommodations are available, you may contact Services for Students with Disabilities in WALB 113.
Writing Center: Can help you with general writing problems or specific assignments (including APA research papers) in KT G19.
CASA (Center for Academic Support and Advancement): Offers many kinds of services to students including tutoring in KT G23.

Helmke Library offers research librarians who can help you find what you need.



13 Orientation: What is this course about? Meet your team! Work on prologue and consider which mini-projects you might want to work on.

15 Prologue: Time to consider gender issues projects.

20 and 22: Chapter One: Gender Jargon

27 and 29: Gender Jargon projects; Chapter 2 Gender Socialization and Standpoint Theory


3 and 5: Socialization projects; Chapter 3 Gender and Media and Social Construction Theory

10 and 12: Media Projects; Chapter 4 Gendered Language and Muted Group Theory

17 and 19: Sexist Language Projects; Chapter 5: Relationships and gender

24 Relationship projects

26 Midterm


3 and 5: Time to work on gender issues projects - outlines due March 5

10 and 12: Spring Break

17 and 19: Chapter 6: Friendships

24 and 26: Friendship projects; Chapter 7 Romantic relationships

31 and 2: Romantic relationship projects; Chapter 8 Power and gender


7 and 9: Power projects; Chapter 9 Workplace and gender

14 and 16: Workplace projects; Chapter 10 Education and Gender

21 and 23: Education projects; Work on gender issues projects

28 and 30: Gender issues presentations


5 10:30 - 12:30 Final