Ideas for Gender, Sexuality, and Rights

Women in the Workplace: Are there a certain set of values located in the idea of “the workplace,” or does the workplace acquire values based on who works in it? How are different workplaces different in terms of the values they prize? What is required for “the workplace” to become a haven for equality? Or, alternatively, why shouldn’t equality be a primary concern in a particular workplace? Looking at historical examples, does a female CEO/President/etc. change the values or standards of a workplace?  Has there been any shift towards or away from thinking of domestic spaces as workplaces in their own right? What obstacles are their for women’s success in the workplace (think especially of careers in your major)? Should children be allowed in the workplace?

Mancession: The term “mancession” was coined during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, at which point men bore a disproportionate rate of job loss. How might one approach the idea of a “mancession”? Does this phenomenon simply reflect job inequality in the first place (e.g., the existence of certain male-dominated professions, higher pay rate), or is there a concern this will be a historical shift from which men will not recover? How might a “mancession” require us to update the values we associate with masculinity?

Women in the military: Should equality be observed in the most extreme of combat situations? In all branches of the military? What might account for the challenges (discrimination, harassment, assault) that women face in the military? What would it take to change these conditions?

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and state laws regarding same-sex marriage: Is marriage a right? Is the same-sex marriage question overshadowing other (more) important rights-based issues for the LBGTQ population? Why do people continue to disagree about same-sex marriage?

Gender/LGBTQ/human rights domestically and internationally:  Do Americans think any differently about questions of human and civil rights where other countries are concerned?  How do American opinions on human and civil rights stack up against international opinions on those same questions?  Can we learn anything, positive or negative, from other countries’ approaches to these questions? How have the rights of the LBGTQ population changed across time? In what ways is the formation of one group identity—individuals who lesbians, bisexuals, gays, transgender, and questioning—an asset or a liability? Does the marriage issue take attention/energy away from other important issues—e.g., LBGTQ youth who are homeless because alienated from their families? What’s the role of the media and popular culture in forming our understanding (or stereotypes) of these identity groups?