Women at Work: Beliefs and Behaviors

by Venette Cook

Read these ideas. Then, discuss this information with your classmates and teacher:

Changing our opinionsor our beliefs is sometimes easy and sometimes difficult. Changing our behavioris sometimes difficult and sometimes easy, too. Have you ever changed your opinion? Have you ever changed your behavior? Talk about what happened.

Have you ever changed someoneelsešsbehavior or beliefs? Many people say we cannot change others, we can only change ourselves. What do you think?

Sometimes we would like to stop a beliefwhich may cause behaviorsuch as sexual discrimination or racial discrimination. We may decide to speak up about beliefs with which we do not agree. In this way, we may bring new ideas of fairness and equality to people. People may not change their beliefs easily. Sometimes, we decide to stop behaviors when we cannot change beliefs.

What's the difference? For each sentence below, circle Belief or Behavior. Discuss your choice with another student.

Belief     Behavior     1. A man does not let women speak at company meetings.

Belief     Behavior     2. A woman wears very short skirts and dresses to work.

Belief     Behavior     3. A man calls the women at work, "My girls."

Belief     Behavior     4. A man puts sexual photographs on the walls near his desk at work.

Belief     Behavior     5. A man thinks women workers are too slow.

Belief     Behavior     6. A company thinks men are not careful enough for a job.

Belief     Behavior     7. A boss tells an employee that he/she will get a raise after he/she takes a weekend vacation with the boss.

Belief    Behavior     8. A woman does not like to work with men because they are never polite or helpful.

What's your plan?      Choose an action.

1. Brainstorm some other difficult, but realistic, situations with your classmates. Create a dialog or a roleplay for one of the situations above.

2. Write in your class journal about one of these situations or a similar situation which you have experienced.

3. Write a letter asking for help or expressing your concerns about a situation that is unfair or discriminatory.

4. Start an email discussion about this topic. Write a summary of your classmate's discussions and suggestions.

5. Use the Internet or your local library to research sexual disrimination. Report back to your class on the information that you find.

A Note to Teachers -

This page is intended for classroom use with intemediate ESL students. Depending on what you have been covering in class, you will need to prep vocabulary and some discussion language. I have used this material at City College of San Francisco and found it useful and effective. I welcome comments or suggestions.
Keep the faith, friends, students, and colleagues!

Venette Cook

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