Thought Paper

The purpose of this thought paper is to synthesize theoretical discussions and provide critical analysis of selected reading assignments of the preceding weeks. The paper will specifically provide the author’s reading and understanding of Stephanie Coontz’s publication of the way we never were, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever publication of Woman don’t Ask, and Deborah Tannen’s work on the power of talk: who gets heard and why. The paper will also provide a synopsis of the movie “North Country”, and provide the writer’s personal assessment of the movie.

The way we never were

In Stephanie Coontz’s publication of the way we never were, she outlined several stereotypes about American families. She counter acted perceptions of the past and provided different conceptions of the changes in the structures of American families’ overtime. She provided an examination of family life in American from 1900 to 1990 in which she dispelled the perceptions of the past which have predisposed the present state of affairs of American families. In chapter one, three, and seven of her publication of the way we never were, Coontz provided elaborate arguments which she termed as myths of the 1950s that tend to perpetuate the perception of how American families ought to be.

Coontz in chapter one defined the crisis within American families which emanate from the perception that American families craves for the family value system of the early and middle 1900s. She argued that people are of the opinion problems in American families in present days emanates from the active determination and participation of women in changing the family structure. She continued to state that some believe families are in crisis as women work outside home at the cost of their families and children, thus putting the relationship and marriage in jeopardy. She further revealed that people reminiscing family values of the 1950s argued that the rate of domestic violence was lower than what it is today due to past traditional family values. She furthered, many are of the opinion that “parents spend less time with their children today than in 1965” (Coontz, 1992, p. 20). In addition, she continued that many believe the rise in teenage pregnancy and abortion rate has been attributed to the gender equality and role reversal in families’ overtime.

In countering the perceptions of American families of the past, Coontz argued that families in America have been dominated by male for centuries. She maintained men were considered breadwinners, while the role of women was limited to the home (Coontz, 1992, p. 10). She asserted there was a notion that only men had the aptitude to handle the burden of the family by providing bacon and direction to the family, while women stay home and manage the affairs of the home and children. Coontz further argued that the perception about America 1950s are fallacies and “false optimisms about renewing family values” Carlson and Edgar (2010). She claimed the perceptions of American families of the 1950s are delusional in that people illusion themselves about the irreversible transformation family trend has taken. She disagreed with those harboring the misconception that if American families only recommitted themselves to marriage and children, American families could circumvent all of the new impasses posed by the revolution in gender and economic role of the family.

Women Don’t Ask

In Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever publication of women doesn’t ask they provided empirical evidence to establish why women lack the aptitude to ask for what they want. Before establishing the hypothesis for why women don’t ask, Linda observed a disparity among her male and female students in asking for whatever they needed. Linda “realized that her male graduate students asked for all sorts of things—travel money to go to conferences, exemptions from course requirements, opportunities to teach courses of their own—that the female students rarely asked for” (Babcock and Laschever, 2010).

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In Linda’s quest to investigate why her female students didn’t ask and her male students were more proactive in asking for what they wanted, she embarked upon a collaborative research project with Sara Laschever who surveyed 100 participants, both men and women from around the U.S. At the close of their research, Linda and Sara discovered their studies produced similar findings. Linda and Sara respective studies gathered that “women are much less likely than men to ask for what they want and to use negotiation as a tool to promote their own ambitions or desires, and men use negotiation to get ahead and get what they want between two and nine times as often as women do” (Babcock and Laschever, 2010).

In their research, Linda and Sara outlined salient statistical findings. Considering selected results from their findings, Linda and Sara disclosed that “women don’t like to negotiate” (Babcock and Laschever, 2010). They argued that 2.5 times more women than men said they feel “a great deal of apprehension” about negotiating, men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women, and 20% of adult women (22 million people) say they never negotiate at all, even though they often recognize negotiation as appropriate and even necessary. They further argued that “women have lower expectations and lack knowledge of their worth” (Babcock and Laschever, 2010). They claimed women are often not aware of their market value, as they report salary expectations between 3% and 32% lower than those of men for the same jobs. They also claimed in their findings that men expect to earn 13% more than women during their first year of full-time work and 32% more at their career peaks.

In providing an explanation to the causes emanating from why women don’t ask, Linda and Sara attributes their work to the wealth of psychological research that explains the diverse ways in which boys and girls interact. They argued by the kinds of toys that are considered boy’s and girl’s, the diverse types of chores typically assigned to girls and boys, and the un similar types of games that adults guide them toward playing, they can “show what these chores and toys teach girls about their appropriate role in society and what the games they play teach them about compliance versus independence” (Babcock and Laschever, 2010). They also claimed from their research, “society has a strong expectation that women will abide by their assigned roles and reacts very negatively when they don’t” (Babcock and Laschever, 2010). Linda and Sara further argued behaviors exhibited by men that portrays them as a straight shooter or a no-nonsense guy can lead a woman to be seen as too “pushy and aggressive” (Babcock and Laschever, 2010).

The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why

In this segment of this thought paper, a review of Deborah Tannen’s publication entitled The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why was made. In her publication, she outlined several points affecting gender behaviors and role in the corporate world. In her work, she mentioned her effort in researching the power of linguistic style on human conversation and relationships. In her quest, she claimed to have extended her research to the workplace where she discovered that our “ways of speaking learned in childhood affect judgments of competence and confidence, as well as who gets heard, who gets credit, and what gets done” (Tannen, 1995, p. 323). She categorized linguistic styles into two cardinal factors: language communicates ideas which she claimed we all are familiar with and language also negotiate relationships which she claimed is mostly invisible, but plays an important role in communication.

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From the ideology of language also negotiates communications, Tannen asserts that during the early stages of live when a child plays he/she learn certain rituals that enhances their communicating and negotiating skills. She differentiates by stating “girls tend to learn conversational rituals that focus on the rapport dimension of relationships whereas boys tend to learn rituals that focus on the status dimension” (Tannen, 1995, p. 325). She argues it is those tendencies that boys and girls learn from childhood plays and interactions that we bring into our adult and professional lives. She continued by giving examples of how men and women use languages and how the use of those languages affects the way we hear one another with different interpretations. She gives an example by stating men and women use different pronouns to personify themselves. She claimed men uses the pronoun “I” and women are inclined to drift towards the pronoun “we”. She further continued her conversational rituals by arguing women tend to downplay their certainty in situations, whereas men in similar situations will avow his lack of accountability in case of fault, or claim accomplishments in situation where there is success.

Tannen also provided several arguments on women and self confidence. She argued that unlike men, women lack self-confidence. They tend to avoid face-losing, not making known their opposition, and avoids asking questions. Tannen further argued that women do not attempt to be heard. They fail to be direct in telling subordinates what is expected of them and fail to draw attention to their ideas and accomplishments. She asserted that women prefer not to ask for what they need and deserve, rather they wait for someone to notice their needs.

In closing arguments on the variances between men and women linguistic styles, Tannen provides some solutions in closing the communication gap between the genders and levels of communications. Even though she acknowledges there is no one best way, Tannen however declared that instead of managers using one mode of communication (meetings), managers must be “aware of the workings and power of linguistic styles, to make sure that people with something valuable to contribute get heard” (Tannen, 1995, p. 336).

North Country

In week five of the first phase of this course (CNR 630) a dramatized video entitled “North Country was viewed. The film is an emotionally charged Hollywood drama performed by Charlize Theron in which she starred as Josey Aimes.

Synopsis of the Movie

The movie is about a single mother who separated from her abusive husband and moved back to her hometown of Minnesota. In her quest to sustain herself and two kids Josey ventured into acquiring a job at a local mine to the displeasure of her father and male coworkers. Josey came to realize her male coworkers did not appreciate their jobs being occupied by women, and the men would do anything to keep them away. Stereotypically, the men felt that mining was a man’s job and the women rather stay at home to perform domestic work, but Josey contended all she needed was to make her own money, feed her kids, and work like everyone else. However, after suffering numerous harassments and humiliations Josey decides to form partnership with the other women at the mine to expose the indignities minted out against the women. In frustration from the lack of cooperation from her family and female coworkers due to fear of reprisal or possible termination, Josey sought to singlehandedly pursue a class action suit against the mining company which even subjected her to more humiliating moments, as her past life involving a rape incident was unearthed.

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Assessment of North Country

After viewing the film “North Country”, it was compelling to develop a personal opinion of the movie. One thing that came to my mind is the fascinating way in which Hollywood stars sought to depict social ills within our society, most especially the purported sexual harassment case at Eveleth Mines. Irrespective of timeline or how people felt about sexual harassment back in the days and now, I ‘m of the opinion that the movie had several short comings, despite its attempts to dramatize a class action suite saturated with gender intricacies.

In identifying some of the shortcomings of the movie, it is important to draw on the perception driven by the movie that all the men at the mine were villains, and the women were victims of heinous indignities committed by their male coworkers. The movie duration of 126 minutes cannot in anyway depict the full length of what actually transpired at the mine. Despite claims of the film being inspired by a true story, it is feasible to argue that the actual length of the movie (126 minutes) of manufactured dramatization was presumably characterized by exaggeration, omission of facts, or choosing of selected events for commercialization by the film producer and actors. The film leaves one to wonder if the true intent of Josey taking the mining company to task was to champion the cause of bridging the gender divide, making sure the indignities perpetrated against the women at the mine was ceased, or if her antipathies with the mine operations were intended to dish out financial reparation.

Despite all of the intricacies and skepticisms surrounding the movie, it is worth noting the importance of being sensitive to those issues that tend to raise eyebrows along gender lines. In particular, sexual harassment has sprung out to be one of the serious workplace issues that have led to many organizations formulating and instituting policies to guide the conduct of people in the workplace. However, a mere presence of a sexual harassment policy does not mean that a workplace will automatically be free of all potential sexual violations. Hence, whatever an employer’s responsibility may be cannot close its eyes when confronted with incidents of sexual harassment, like depicted in the movie North Country. Employers have the obligation to determine the scope of the problem and take necessary steps to curtail or alleviate it.

After providing a review and synopsis of the gender issues contributed by Coontz, Babcock and Laschever, Tannen, and Theron, it is compelling to conclude that whatever the circumstances, the issues outlined by the authors on gender roles, behaviors, perceptions, and indignities will continued to be thought provoking in the quest for gender equality, economic empowerment, and tolerance.


Babcock, L. & Laschever, S. (2010). Women Don’t Ask- Negotiation and the gender Divide-Interesting Statistics. Retrieved from online on February 23, 2010-

Babcock, L. & Laschever, S. (2010). Women Don’t Ask- Negotiation and the gender Divide- A Conversation with Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. Retrieved from online on February 23, 2010-

Carlson, J., & Englar, A. J. (2010). A Conversation with Stephanie Coontz. The Family Journal. Retrieved from the UNCG database on February 23, 2010-

Tannen, D. (1995). The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why. Individual Differences: Negotiation- Reading, Exercises, and Cases 323-336). Retrieved from the UNCG e-Reserve database on February 22, 2010-

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