Discussion Dyads / Small Group Discussion

Creating a Great Place to Work: Telecommuting Lessons from the “100 Best”

Activity Description: 

A PowerPoint presentation by Amy Lyman of the Great Place to Work Institute about what it take to make the “100 Best” list and how telecommuting is used effectively by these companies.

Autobiographical Accounts, A Suggested Work and Family Class Activity

Activity Description: 

Purpose
To encourage students to reflect on the connections between rites of passage and family transitions

Steps
Students themselves are rich sources of primary data about the importance of ritual occasions in the lives of American families and how these rites serve as symbolic "sign posts" in autobiographical conceptions of the self.

     1. In a class exercise, they might pair off and interview one another about key ritual events in their memories of their own lives and of their family. What important family vocations or legendary holidays do they recall or know of (perhaps including some before they were born)? Class discussion might compare these findings and search for salient commonalities and distinctions.

     2. It is often interesting to analyze the rites with attention to gender and generation: what explicit and implicit messages do the various ceremonies convey about masculinity and femininity, or about the proper relations between youths and elders? Students from immigrant families often have access to especially rich data on ritual innovation and synthesis: to what extent have rituals in their family assimilated over time to a mainstream American norm, developed marked and elaborate ethnic inflections, or hit upon ingenious symbolic compromises?

Activity Source: 

Content contributed by Mark Auslander as a Suggested Work and Family Class Activity for the Sloan Networks’ Resources for Teaching section.

Gendered Division of Labor, A Suggested Work and Family Class Activity

Activity Description: 

Purpose

To illustrate the gendered division of labor within dual-earner couples

Steps

1. Each student will interview two couples, one with children in the home and one without children in the home. Students should ask each member of the couple the following:

  • Please estimate the amount of time that you spent performing housework yesterday. This includes shopping, cooking, cleaning, and home maintenance.
  • Please estimate the amount of time per week that you spend performing housework. This includes shopping, cooking, cleaning, and home maintenance.
  • Please estimate the amount of time per week that your spouse spends performing housework. This includes shopping, cooking, cleaning, and home maintenance.
  • Approximately how many hours per week do you work at your paid job?
  • Please tell me who usually is in charge of the following tasks:
  • Paying bills
  • Cleaning the bathroom
  • Cooking meals
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Grocery shopping
  • Gardening
  • Planning meals
  • Shoveling snow (if applicable)
  • Cleaning up after meals
  • Household repairs
  • Vacuuming
  • Mending clothes
  • Dusting
  • Emptying the dishwasher
  • Washing clothes
  • Changing linens/sheets
  • Mopping the floor
  • Washing windows

If children are present in the home ask the following questions (when applicable):

  • Changing diapers
  • Getting children ready for school/day care
  • Helping with homework
  • Supervising play time
  • Driving children to school/day care
  • Arranging for play dates
  • Arranging rides/car pools
  • Making doctor and dentist appointments
  • Driving to activities
  • Bathing
  • Transporting to and from doctor and dentist
  • Arranging for day care

2. Students break into small groups to compare interview responses. Have students address the following questions: 

  • What patterns did the students notice?
  • Did husband and wife agree on who was responsible for the different chores? If not, was there a pattern?
  • Were the women typically in charge of stereotypically female tasks and the men in charge of stereotypically male tasks?
  • Was there a greater division of labor among couples with children than among couples without children? 

3. Identify the percent of companies that tout family-friendly values and benefits. 

  • Average amount of time spent by husband and by wife on household tasks
  • Average amount of time spent by husband and by wife on paid work
  • For each task, the percent of the women surveyed that were responsible for the task and the percent of men that were responsible for the task (decide as a class what to do when spouses disagreed about who was responsible for a task)

4. Pool tabulations from the different groups and determine whether the results from the class show a gendered division of labor.

5. Discuss the patterns that students found in terms of division of labor. Ask students to identify the factors that might influence the division of labor in a home (e.g. relative income disparity between husband and wife, socio-economic status, presence and age of children).

 

Activity Source: 

Content contributed by Patricia V. Roehling, Ph.D., Hope College and Phyllis Moen, Ph.D., Cornell University as a Suggested Work and Family Class Activity for the Sloan Networks’ Resources for Teaching section.

Career Stages, A Suggested Work and Family Class Activity

Activity Description: 

Purpose To understand forces influencing women's career decisions and repercussions of those decisions

Steps

  1. Identify a woman in your life who you are interested in interviewing about her career path. 
  2. Prepare interview questions designed to stimulate a discussion regarding different career stages she has experienced and where she is at this point in her life. Include questions about different periods when her career stage shifted, and what the triggers and consequences of those shifts have been. 
  3. Interview a woman who matters to you. 
  4. Analyze the information gathered during the interview. 
  5. Write a summary of the interview process and your interpretation of the 
Activity Source: 

Content contributed by Krysia Wrobel, Patricia Raskin, Vivian Maranzano, Judith Leibholz Frankel, and Amy Beacom as a Suggested Work and Family Class Activity for the Sloan Networks’ Resources for Teaching section.

Organizational Pressures, A Suggested Work and Family Class Activity

Activity Description: 

Purpose

To consider all the various pressures organizations and key management face in decision making. Initial group discussion followed by a larger class discussion.

Steps

  1. Divide the class into groups of five people. Each group represents the top management team of a prominent organization.
  2. Each group needs to identify pressures their organization faces as a result of being prominent in society (i.e. be kind to the environment, treat employees well, give back to the community, etc.). 
  3. Further, each group should identify the stakeholders associated with each pressure (i.e. investors, employees, etc.). 
  4. Reconvene as a class for a short time period to ensure all students have identified the appropriate pressures.
  5. Return to the groups, or if preferable, discuss as a class, how these pressures and stakeholder influences affect the firm's decision to adopt a work-life policy.
  6. As a research tie-in, discuss the results of Arthur's (2003) findings that announcements of work-life initiatives increased firm share price (likely contrary to what students may think).
Activity Source: 

Content contributed by Alison Cook as a Suggested Work and Family Class Activity for the Sloan Networks’ Resources for Teaching section.

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