Group / Class Discussion

Accommodating Employees with Hidden Disabilities

Activity Description: 

This handout provides examples of sample accommodations that were created by employees with disabilities and employers in various employment situations.

To access this handout, visit:

Activity Source: 

Americans with Disabilities Act and accommodating employees with hidden disabilities. International Journal of Humanities and Peace Annual 2003, 19(1), p. 98.

Textbooks for Use in Work-Family Courses

Activity Description: 

The textbooks listed below have been used in work-family courses.

Activity Source: 

The following textbooks are abstracted from Sweet, S., Pitt-Catsouphes, M. (2006). Teaching work and family: Strategies, activities, and syllabi. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association, and syllabi posted on the Sloan Work and Family Network (

Download the PDF: TextbooksWorkFamilyCourses.pdf

Personal Circumstances and Work Performance, A Suggested Work and Family Class Activity

Activity Description: 


To encourage students to reflect on how personal circumstances matter in the workplace;  notably how gender and non-work commitments impact the way employees are perceived at work. To start a discussion on whether personal circumstances should matter or not when taking a management decision.


The case is adapted from a real-life situation, in a French bank. The person fired was Mike and not Kelly, because the manager was concerned Kelly had children to provide for. He thought that Mike, being younger and single, would find another job easier. This case can start a discussion on cross-cultural differences as well, as personal circumstances have a different status in Europe and the US.


Give students 10 minutes to read the Bacofis Bank case individually and answer the questions individually. Then divide the class in small groups, ideally 3-4 students, and give them 10 minutes to reach a group decision. Each group explains its decision to the class.

A quicker alternative would be to give them 10 minutes individually, organize a vote and ask volunteers from each position to argue for it, starting with the minority group.

Bacofis Bank Case
Bacofis Bank operates in the financial markets and is structured as such:

  • The front office takes positions in the market, selling and buying stocks, bonds, commodities, futures and options;
  • The middle office manages portfolio risks;
  • The back office handles the administration of the positions taken during the day, ensuring that stocks are transferred to the bank that bought them, and so forth.

You are a manager at Bacofis Bank, in charge of the back office team that handles administration for all futures and options sold and bought by the traders. 

Your team is comprised of six persons. Because of the recent economic downturn, you have been told two weeks ago that you have to downsize and let go of one person. You are to select the person to fire, and the Head of the back office will make his final decision based on your recommendation.

You have been examining last year’s performance appraisals and considering the unique skills that you cannot afford to lose in your team. There are two persons that you could let go, who are the lesser performers and who do not possess indispensable expertise.

Kelly is 45 years old. She has been with Bacofis Bank for 10 years now. She is a mother of 3, the youngest child being 5. She is reliable in her work and her error ratio on operations handled is only 4%. Yet, she sometimes needs to miss work because of a sick child or other unexpected duties and this has been bothering you because operations need to be handled the day they are initiated.

Mike is 29 years old. He has been with Bacofis Bank for 3 years and is single. He seems to be less focused in his work than Kelly, maybe less committed as well, and as a result his error ratio on operations handled is 8%. However, he is more readily available than Kelly and typically covers for her when she needs to be off.

Both Kelly and Mike are well integrated in the team.

Who should you fire? Based on what criteria are you going to make that decision? How are you going to communicate it to the person you let go of and to the team?

Indications for debriefing

Ideal worker norms

Decision criteria:

  • Performance, career potential (lesser for the working mother)
  • Legal implications (severance pay linked to tenure, discrimination issues; in France: legal coefficients to protect those with a family)
  • Work climate -" insecurity for all if the most tenured is fired ; on the contrary send a signal that high performance is required
  • Personal circumstances (less in the US than France).
Activity Source: 

Suggestion submitted by Ariane Ollier-Malaterre, Rouen Business School

Effective Diversity: Understanding Employee Needs and Employer Advantages, a Class Activity

Activity Description: 

Author: Cynthia Ozeki, California State University Dominguez Hills

Purpose: To help students think about what employees from different groups need from their managers and organizations to be effective, and the advantages of hiring and supporting them.  This exercise was developed for use in a human resource management course but could be adapted to many other types of classes.

1) Introduction: discuss the way the workforce is changing, with white males who have a full-time spouse at home being replaced by working mothers and fathers, people in dual-career relationships, people with eldercare responsibilities and workers with different racial and ethnic backgrounds.  Explain that this presents both challenges and opportunities for employers.

2) Divide the students into small groups.  In a diverse class, students can be asked to choose a group that they identify with. In a less diverse class with mainly young, single students you may wish to assign students to adopt the perspective of a group they don’t necessarily belong to.  Groups may include:

  • eldercare givers
  • parents of children under 12
  • parents of teens and older 4
  • those in dual-career relationships without children
  • age under 25
  • age over 50
  • working women
  • grew up speaking language other than English
  • other strong ethnic/racial identity (fit to groups represented in class and/or community)

3) Ask the each group to think about the type of people they have been assigned.

  • What do they need?  What kinds of support would they like from their managers and organizations?  What benefits, policies, and management approaches would they find most helpful? 
  • What can they add to the organization that should make employers want to provide that support?  What special skills, knowledge, or attributes do they have? 

4) Have each group report back to the class, and list their responses to those two topics on the board.  Compare the needs and advantages that are presented.  Usually, students representing ALL groups will say that flexibility, understanding and respect are important to them.  They also usually recognize that employees who have strong outside relationships and commitments to family tend to have good people skills and a sense of responsibility at work, as well.  Workers from different groups also bring new perspectives that may help an organization understand new types of potential customers.
5) Highlight conclusions: Having a diverse set of workers does present challenges, but hiring those workers and supporting them can bring benefits for employers.

Activity Source: 

Content contributed by Cynthia Ozeki as a Suggested Work and Family Class Activity for the Sloan Network’s Resources for Teaching Section

Group Discussion on Work & Family Policies and Strategies

Activity Description: 

Author: E. Brooke Kelly, University of North Carolina — Pembroke

This class discussion and exercise helps students begin to grasp the ways problems can be addressed at the micro level (such as counseling individuals) and the macro level (such as at the level of federal policy). It helps them to think about the different ways individuals or groups might address any social problems and the potential strengths and limitations of individual vs. policy solutions.

The following is an in-class exercise created for the section on work and family in an undergraduate sociology course on families, but it could be used or adapted for courses on work and family or sociology of work. When I teach the family course, I place particular emphasis on diverse family forms, inequalities, and the interaction between micro and macro. This exercise helps students think more concretely about potential strategies for addressing work and family conflicts. After students participate in one of the three assigned discussion exercises below, we then discuss all of them as a class.

For this discussion, we will be breaking up into groups of 4-5 students who will serve as family policy experts and/ or work/family balance counselors. Groups will be assigned to address one of the following work/family issues:

A) Strategies for Individual Families

You specialize as work/family balance counselors. Your task is to help families deal with work and family conflicts at the micro level of individual families. You are gathered here today as a team of counselors, with the task of brainstorming and sharing possible strategies with your colleagues.

  1. Based on class lecture and readings, what are some of the work and family conflicts that families may face? In other words, for what problems might your clientele come to you? (Create at least two scenarios of work/family balance issues that you are likely to face as professionals.)
  2. What are some strategies that you would recommend to individual families and family members for dealing with work/family balance issues? (Be specific.) In other words, what solutions would you recommend based on your scenarios of work/family problems?
  3. Think about your recommendations. Would your proposed solutions be effective for all families? Is there anything that would make your strategies difficult for some families? Why? How? Provide further recommendations for dealing with this. Are there additional solutions/strategies that you would recommend to account for diverse family forms and circumstances?
  4. [This question is not usually addressed until our class discussion.] Finally, are there any limitations to your approach to solving work and family strategies at the level of individual families? Can this approach solve most work and family conflicts? Are there other levels (i.e., social policies…) at which solutions need to be implemented? If so, what other strategies or solutions are needed?

B) Work & Family Policy: Child Care

You are here as a group of child advocates and family policy specialists. Your task is to think about possible proposals for resolving child care dilemmas in the U.S. To structure your discussion, think about the following questions.

  1. Based on class lecture and readings, outline the child care dilemmas that families in the United States face? What are some of the structural forces that contribute to these child care issues for families? How do child care situations vary by family formation or structure? by other factors of family diversity? In other words, what are the child care needs of families in the United States, keeping in mind that needs will differ?
  2. What are some possible ways to resolve these dilemmas for families? What solutions would your group propose for dealing with child care issues? Would you propose strategies for individual families? government policies? regulations for businesses? something else? or a combination of these different approaches? Specifically outline a proposal.
  3. What obstacles would you face as a group in implementing your proposal?

C) Work and Family Policy: Revising the Family & Medical Leave Act

You are gathered here as a group of family policy experts. Your task today is to critique and revise the “Family and Medical Leave Act” of 1993.

  1. Based on course lecture and readings, what are some of the sources and consequences of work and family conflict for contemporary families in the United States? What obstacles/issues should a federal policy implemented to help employees balance work and family life address and/or resolve?
  2. With this in mind, carefully review the “Family Medical Leave Act” as outlined in the enclosed reference guide from UNCP. [I distribute information on the Family Medical Leave Act outlined on my university’s web-site.] Does this policy leave out any crucial issues related to work & family conflict that your group discussed? Are there diverse families or family circumstances whose needs are not served by this policy? Critique this policy.
  3. How would you revise this policy so that it better addresses the needs of employees? Specifically outline the changes you would make in the policy or start from scratch and create your own federal policy to better address work and family balance.
  4. Once you have composed a revised proposal, talk about what obstacles you would face in getting this new policy implemented? How do you propose to deal with this in promoting your new policy?
Activity Source: 

Sweet, Stephen, Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Joshua Mumm, Judith Casey, and Christina Matz. 2006. Teaching Work and Family: Strategies, Activities, and Syllabi. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.

Family Panels to Build a Sociological Perspective on Work-Family Connections

Activity Description: 

Authors: Michael Gortari, Erik Schwinger, Rebecca M. Thomas, and Clayton D. Peoples, University of Nevada, Reno

The relationship between work and family is crucial, and conveying this is one of the key tasks of teaching sociological perspectives on the family. But conveying this reality can be difficult given that directly demonstrating family life situations in the classroom is very difficult. In this paper, we describe an exercise that brings work/family situations into the classroom indirectly via a “family panel” of guest speakers trained in sociology talking openly about their own families. We expound upon a recent family panel we conducted, and evaluate its effectiveness. We find the panel is a positive learning experience for students and makes themes/concepts related to the crucial work/family connection more real and understandable.
The dynamic interplay between work and family is undeniably important. From the spillover of work stress into family life to the balancing of family and work responsibilities, the linkages between work and family are immutably significant. In fact, some argue that conveying the reality that work and family are inseparable is a critical task of teaching sociological perspectives on the family (e.g. Baca Zinn and Eitzen 1988). But accomplishing this task can be difficult given that directly demonstrating family life situations in the classroom is very difficult (Gunter 1974).

In this paper, we describe an exercise that brings work/family situations into the classroom indirectly via a “family panel” of guest speakers trained in sociology talking openly about their own families. After a brief review of the literature, we describe the exercise in some detail, providing illustrative work/family quotes from a recent panel we conducted. We then discuss the pros and cons of the exercise. Finally, we conclude by discussing the panel’s effectiveness and relevance for teaching about the work/family connection.

The relationship between work and family is crucial. One of the many characteristics of this crucial relationship is that it is far-reaching, often both intra- and intergenerational in its impact. The examples noted in the introduction carry both intra- and intergenerational importance—spillover can significantly affect both intimate and parent/child relationships; and parents are often concerned with balancing time with their children and the demands of work. Other examples of the work/family connection are similarly far-reaching. For instance, the well-documented effect of work structure on values is both intra- and intergenerational in impact, as work-derived values are both shared with contemporaries and passed down to the next generation (Kohn 1969).

While the relationship between work and family is clearly important, it is often under-recognized by those who are less familiar with the sociological perspective. This is likely the motivation behind calls for making the work/family connection a central theme of sociological portrayals of the family in the classroom (e.g. Baca Zinn and Eitzen 1988). But how to do so is a key question. A number of techniques have been developed to help accomplish this goal.

One technique involves utilizing the family experiences of students. For instance, Kerckoff and Baytala (1969) propose conducting surveys of the family situations of students at the beginning of a term, and then using those survey results later to highlight key points such as the work/family connection. Herald, Eastwood, Empringham, Gall, and McKendry (1973) recommend having students in the class serve as discussion leaders on different family-related topics, sharing their experiences. And Aminoff (1995) suggests the usage of detailed family histories to help students better understand their own family situations. While all of these exercises are likely helpful, they are somewhat restrictive in that they rely solely on the experiences of the students.

Another technique involves bringing outside family situations to students. But while literally exposing students to a real family situation in the classroom may be ideal, this is difficult as noted earlier. As such, some have attempted to do so indirectly. For example, Cosbey (1997) and Hall (2000) both argue for the use, and subsequent critique, of fiction novels in family sociology courses. Smarden and Margosian (1973) suggest conducting critical content analyses of magazines. Yet all of these exercises may be limited in making family situations more real given they are based on magazines and fiction. An alternative approach would be to expose students to real family situations outside the classroom. Gunter (1974) proposes sending students out to the community to spend time with a family. While likely very useful, such an exercise may not be feasible, and may be limited in its ability to relay a sociological perspective on the families observed. In this paper, we forward an exercise that (1) indirectly brings work/family situations into the classroom and (2) has a sociological perspective essentially built in.

The Exercise:
In our exercise, we gather a “family panel” of guest speakers who are all trained in sociology, and have them come speak openly in a given class session about their own family situations. Recent work praises the use of panels in the sociology classroom. For instance, Kubal, Meyler, Stone, and Mauney (2003) suggest that the diversity brought into the classroom by panels is rewarding for many students. Moreover, Crone (1997) shows that panels stimulate student involvement in class, motivate instructors, and reinforce material already covered in class. We therefore feel confident that our panel provides these general benefits in addition to illustrating the work/family connection.

For our panel, the number of panelists is not necessarily a set figure, and is partially contingent upon the how many volunteer to participate (but at least two or three participants would make it a ‘panel’ and provide some diversity). To put together our panel, we send out an e-mail announcement to at the beginning of the term to all sociology graduate students and/or faculty, describing the panel and requesting their participation. We generally receive good response to our e-mail requests (although we do recognize that in exceptionally small departments, getting enough panelists within the sociology department may be more difficult, but can likely still be done by calling on the participation of colleagues in related fields and/or advanced undergraduates).

We typically do not request that panelists discuss the work/family relationship, specifically, but, instead, prefer to keep our request open-ended to allow panelists to discuss whatever they feel comfortable discussing. It is our implicit assumption that among a group of sociologists the work/family relationship will emerge as one of the key themes of their family narratives. This assumption is inevitably confirmed. For instance, in a recent panel, which we will qualitatively expound shortly, the fifty-five minute session yielded over forty references to various facets of the work/family connection.

In terms of the structure of the panel session, while this is up to the individual instructor(s), we typically allow a set amount of time for each panelist to speak, permit a few questions directly after each speaker, and then open it up for more questions at the end, concluding by summarizing the ways in which key sociological views on the family (such as the centrality of the work/family connection) emerged in the panel.
Qualitative Expounding of a Panel:
The particular panel we expound upon here was composed of three graduate students. Two of the students are single, male sociology MA students in their twenties. The third panelist is a single mother and social psychology PhD student in her forties. These three panelists are from working class families. Their fathers were/are employed as an iron miner, a railroad worker, and a rehabilitation assistant in a psychiatric center; the mother of one of the panelists was diagnosed with a disease and was not employed, one died while the panelist was young, and one worked in hospital admission. A recurring theme in this panel was the intergenerational impact of the work patterns of the panelists’ parents on their familial relationships, roles, and values. Another key theme was the balancing of work and family responsibilities.

Two of the three panelists had split-shifting parents. One discussed split-shifting in a nuclear family situation: “I [got] home…whenever school [let] out; then, my father [got] home shortly thereafter, my mom [took] off for work and my dad [was] responsible for cooking us dinner, etc.” Another panelist noted split-shifting within a multi-generational extended family situation: “My grandfather was a bricklayer, [he] worked like 7-4…my grandma waited [tables] in the nighttime, so she would cook us dinner and put it all in foil and he would come home, she would go to work and then he would heat it up and feed us….”

The work patterns of the panelists’ parents affected their familial relationships and the roles the panelists adopted in their lives. For example, as noted above, one panelist’s father took on a homemaking role during the evenings by cooking, and the panelist noted that this pattern has continued in his own life. “I’ve lived with two girlfriends in the past… in both of those relationships I was the one doing the cooking every night.” Another panelist recalled assuming the caretaker role at a young age due to her mother’s illness and her father’s heavy work load. “I actually remember missing school to go to…functions to serve as [my younger sister’s] parent because my mom couldn’t go and my dad was working.”

The intergenerational transfer of work- and class-related values was exhibited in several instances during this panel exercise. For instance, one panelist recollected that she always wanted to become a college professor, but she lamented, “I was never encouraged to do that and there was much this expectation that when I got out of high school, I would get married and have kids.” She blamed this for delaying her entry into higher education. Another panelist noted pressure from his family to embrace working-class values and work ethic. He recounted his father telling him, “You don’t need to love your job, you don’t need to do something that’s going to make you happy, you need to do something that’s going to pay your bills, and be there in ten years as a job, in twenty years as a job.” The panelist noted that this pressure continues due to the fact that he is still in school and working part time. He said his family often asks him, “When are you going to get a job?”

The balancing of work and family responsibilities also emerged as a key theme in this panel. For instance, a student directed a question toward one of the panelists related to this theme, asking, “How do you balan e, even now, school and kids?” The panelist’s response highlighted this balancing act well, answering, “The truth of it is…you get up every day and you do it. There are days when you’re exhausted, and days when you do a really good job and you are proud of yourself, and days when you worry about how the electric bill is going to get paid.”

Evaluation of Exercise:
We believe this exercise was effective. It certainly facilitated lively discussion. On over 35 occasions during the panel, students posed insightful questions and comments on topics such as the effect of work on family relations and roles. Our observation was that students showed a genuine interest in the discussion and were able to relate the experiences of the panel members to topics covered in class. But to further examine the effectiveness of the exercise, we conducted an evaluation.

At the end of the panel, the students we gave the students anonymous evaluation forms to complete. The first five questions asked students to rate the experience from 1 to 4, strongly disagree to strongly agree. An additional 3 open-ended questions allowed students to express any likes, dislikes and to evaluate how effective they felt the panel was in helping them learn about families in new or different ways. The final question gave students the opportunity to provide any additional comments about the panel.
Overall, students found the panel helpful in making “family situations more real” to them: 92% of students agreed or strongly agreed on this point. Around 96% said the family panel helped them “better understand some of the family situations in the text,” and 92% agreed or strongly agreed that the family panel was a “learning experience” for them.

The open ended questions corresponded well with the answers given in the scale questions. When asked what they disliked about the panel, a few students noted a lack of racial and economic diversity in the panel (all panelists were white and came from either working class or poor backgrounds), with one student commenting, “I wish we had a more diverse panel as far as income situations go….” Most students, however, said there was nothing they disliked about the panel.
When asked to evaluate the effectiveness of the panel in helping them learn about new or different family situations, the most frequently cited response was that it made family situations more “real.” One student commented, “It was a great ‘hands on’ way of looking at peoples real life situations…,” and another, “It was good to have a concrete situation which we were able to see how specific families work and how they vary.” Students also mentioned that it made them start looking at their own family situations and how that relates to who they are today, with one student stating, “I always like to hear about other people’s experiences…and it even made me start analyzing my own family.”

When asked to evaluate how effective the panel was in helping them learn about family situations already covered in class, the student consensus was that it was effective, and that terms and themes from class made more sense to them now that they had a concrete reference point. For instance, students noted familiar concepts that emerged in the panel such as “split-shifting,” “conformity,” “traditional family “gender roles,” “poverty,” and “working class.” And one student remarked, “[The panel] helped to be able to recognize [concepts] in real life families.”

In conclusion, we feel putting together a “family panel” of people trained in sociology to talk about their own family situations is an effective way of bringing real family situations to the students (at least indirectly) and building a sociological perspective on the family. And it is clear that important themes—particularly the critical work/family connection—emerge from such panels, enriching students’ knowledge and understanding of the dynamic interplay between work and family in both intra- and intergenerational forms. Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, based on our evaluation of the particular panel expounded in this paper, students themselves overwhelmingly agree that family panels make family situations more real, help them better understand material, and make for an overall good learning experience. We therefore highly recommend using a family panel exercise to reinforce sociological themes/concepts and make the crucial work/family connection more real and understandable.

Aminoff, Susan M. 1995. “The Family History Exercise: Developing Positive Awareness in Culturally Diverse College Classrooms.” Teaching Sociology 23:155-8.

Baca Zinn, Maxine and Stanley Eitzen. 1988. “Transforming the Sociology of the Family: New Directions for Teachings and Texts.” Teaching Sociology 16:180-4.

Cosbey, Janet. 1997. “Using Contemporary Fiction to Teach Family Issues.” Teaching Sociology 25:227-33.

Crone, James A. 1997. “Using Panel Debates to Increase Student Involvement in the Introductory Sociology Class.” Teaching Sociology 25:214-8.

Gunter, B. G. 1974. “Using Volunteer Families in Teaching Family Sociology.” The Family Coordinator 23:261-7.

Hall, Kelley J. 2000. “Putting the Pieces Together: Using Jane Smiley’s ‘A Thousand Acres’ in Sociology of Families.” Teaching Sociology 28:370-78.

Herald, Edward S., Janice Eastwood, Charlotte Empringham, Beverly Gall, and Shirley McKendry. 1973. “Human Sexuality: A Student Taught Course.” The Family Coordinator 22:183-6.

Kerckhoff, Richard K. and Sandra P. Baytala. 1969. “Classroom Research as a Teaching Method in Family Life Education.” The Family Coordinator 18:14-21.
Kohn, Melvin L. 1969. Class and Conformity: A Study in Values. Homewood, IL: Dorsey Press.

Kubal, Timothy, Deanna Meyler, Rosalie Torres Stone, and Teelyn T. Mauney. 2003.

“Teaching Diversity and Learning Outcomes: Bringing Lived Experience into the Classroom.” Teaching Sociology 31:441-55.

Smarden, Lawrence E. and Arthur H. Margosian. 1973. “Marriage in Magazines.” The Family Coordinator 22:177-82.

Activity Source: 

Sweet, Stephen, Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Joshua Mumm, Judith Casey, and Christina Matz. 2006. Teaching Work and Family: Strategies, Activities, and Syllabi. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.

Cross-National Comparisons of Work, Spouse, and Parental Roles, A Suggested Work and Family Class Activity

Activity Description: 

Purpose:  Explore the assumptions underlying work, spouse, and parental roles within dual-career families residing and working in different national contexts.

***For a 50 minute session***

Step 1: (Five minutes)

Divide the class into two groups and then assign one scenario to each group. (See the scenarios below). Explain the task. Each group has to read the scenario and discuss answers to the assigned questions. Each group has to select one member responsible for summarizing the discussion and presenting it to the other group.

Step 2: (Twenty minutes)

Have each group read the scenario, discuss the following questions, and summarize the discussion:
a. How are the responsibilities of the parental roles (father/mother) being handled?
b. Who is spending more time at work?  Why?
c. Who is spending more time at home?  Why?
d. What assumptions are being made about who is the best person to take care of the child?
e. What type of help is being obtained from outside the family?
f. Is any type of support being provided at work?
g. Think about the country in which the scenario is being enacted and identify the expectations that are made in that society about work, spouse, and parental roles. How are these expectations reflected in the scenario?

Step 3: (Ten minutes)

Each group presents the summary of the discussion.

Step 4: (Ten minutes)

The two groups then find similarities and differences between the two scenarios and relate these to the national context in which the scenarios are based.

Scenario 1
Julie and Richard Nolan live in New York City, U.S.A. They are a dual-career couple with Richard working as a Professor of Architecture at a state university and Julie employed as a Branch Manager for a large national bank. Recently, Julie gave birth to their first child, a son, and they are making the transition into their parental roles. Julie has taken four weeks of unpaid leave and was glad her mother could come for the two weeks right after the baby arrived. When she returns to work, their son will be attending a day-care center located close to her bank; she will drop off the baby every morning on her way to work and is counting on Richard to pick up the baby on his way back. Julie is a bit worried about how she is going to get caught up with things at work that have accumulated over the four weeks she was away. Fortunately the baby arrived when Richard’s semester was almost ending and he is looking forward to spending more time with the baby during the three weeks of break he has between semesters. Julie wants to use this time to sit down with Richard and create some schedules that would help them figure out ways of managing their responsibilities at work and at home in an effective and efficient manner.

Scenario 2

Asha and Hemant Bharve live in Pune, India. They are a dual-career couple with Hemant working as Professor of Engineering at the University and Asha employed as the Branch Manager of a large national bank. Recently, Asha gave birth to their first child, a son, and they are making the transition into their parental roles. Asha’s mother came to stay with them right before the birth of the baby and will remain with them for about six months. When she leaves, Hemant’s parents will arrive and live them for six months. Though there are several good quality day-care centers available, the new parents prefer to have their families come and help out. They believe this is an opportunity for the newborn to get to know his grandparents and for Asha to get some assistance as she tries to handle work and parental responsibilities. When Asha’s maternity leave (twelve weeks of paid leave) expires and she returns to work she is glad to have her mother (and later her in-laws) at home to take care of the baby. Hemant too is glad to have family members available to help out as he can continue to concentrate on his work especially as he has several deadlines coming up within the next few months.

Activity Source: 

Source:  Content contributed by Meera Komarraju as a Suggested Work and Family Class Activity for the Sloan Networks’ Resources for Teaching section.

The Glass Ceiling Phenomenon, A Suggested Work and Family Class Activity

Activity Description: 


To help students critique the perspectives from which women and glass ceiling issues are addressed.


1.  Have students read the articles for homework.
2.  Ask students to prepare a 1-page response paper for each article.

BusinessWeek, December 22, 2003

  • Why should recruiters “look farther afield for candidates,” to increase “the likelihood of women landing seats?”
  • Which of the four perspectives does this represent?
  • What are the benefits and problems associated with this perspective?
  • Critique the conclusion that the share of women on boards is growing.

The Wall Street Journal, Feb 3, 2004, page B1

  • What are the stated differences between women and men?
  • What are the professional dangers associated with a willingness to be “grinds?”
  • What are the critical needs of women who desire to succeed in management?

3.  Put students in small groups to discuss responses to above questions.

4.  Ask each group to briefly present the group’s response to entire class.

5.  Engage the class in a discussion that is focused on perspectives that guide

  • organizational behavior,
  • research agendas, and
  • development of workplace policies.
Activity Source: 

Content contributed by Prudence L. Pollard, Ph.D. as a Suggested Work and Family Class Activity for the Sloan Networks’ Resources for Teaching section.

Making the Grade for Care

Activity Description: 


Go to:

Questions / Ideas to consider in class discussion:

  1. Evaluate the grading system. Is it fair? Accurate?
  2. Are students surprised about which States scored higher on the report card? Lower?


Activity Source: 

National Women's Law Center (

Balance or Conflict? A Suggested Work and Family Class Activity

Activity Description: 

To understand the conflicts that working adults face when they attempt to fulfill work and family responsibilities. 

1. Before class, ask the students to go to the PBS website for the documentary, "Juggling Work and Family":

2. Click Case Study Three, Charlotte Gattenby. Watch the film clip.

3. Ask the students to note:
       • conflicts that result from not having sufficient time to meet both work and family responsibilities.
       • conflicts that result from an inability to attend to both work and family responsibilities at the same time.
       • conflicts that result from the strain of having a large number of work and family responsibilities.

Activity Source: 

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

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