Gender, Care Giving and the Ideal Worker

Activity Description:


To start a discussion on students’ perceptions of the “ideal worker” and how gender and caregiving responsibilities play into these perceptions. This activity will work best if given as a homework assignment, with results presented in a following class to initiate discussion.  


Step 1: Prep

The instructor should make up at least 4 fictional employees and fill out the following three documents for them, altering gender, caregiving responsibilities, and number of children in each.

  1. Employee Information (see attachment 1 below):

You will fill this out with a fictional name

You will determine if this employee is a male or a female

You will determine if the employee is married and/or has children

There are three optional job descriptions given that you can choose from, though you may add or alter any of them.

  1. Performance Report (see attachment 2 below):

This will be used as a consistent variable for all employees.

  1. FMLA Record (see attachment 3 below):

You will fill out this record form.

You will determine the reason for leave and will check off the appropriate box.

Step 2: Class activity

Pass out completed personal records of 4 employees to students at random.

Ask students to read the information provided as if they were in the role of manager within this fictional organization.

After reading the information, the students will rate the employee assigned by filling out the Student Evaluation (see attachment 4 below).

Step 3: Discussion

Lead a discussion based on students’ perceptions of the “ideal worker” and how gender and care giving responsibilities play into these perceptions.

Activity Source:

Activity designed by Sarah Morrison, MSW student at Boston College’s Graduate School of Social Work.

Class activity adapted from:  Wayne, J. H., & Cordeiro, B. L.  (2003). Who is a good organizational citizen?  Social perception of male and female employees who use family leave.  Sex Roles, 49(5-6), 223-246.

Activity Links to Materials:

attachment1 (2)

attachment2 (1)

attachment3 (1)

attachment4 (1)