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COML 530

Women, Communication,
and Leadership

Course Description

This course will look at gender differences in leadership styles and efficacy as well as
specific communication issues women face in attaining and retaining leadership
positions. Through readings, discussions, videos, and projects that critically examine
images and gender stereotypes of women leaders, the course is designed to give students
practical skills they can use to be better communicators and leaders.

Course Objectives

After taking this course, students will be able to

• Identify the major theoretical issues related to research on women,
communication, and leadership
• Gain communication and presentation skills that help students become more
effective communicators
• Design an original project on women and leadership that involves the local
• Recognize one’s own leadership goals in relation to striving for inclusive


Wood, J. T. (2015). Gendered lives: Communication, gender, & culture (11th Edition)
Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage.

Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead. New York: Alfred A.

Cunningham, C., Crandall, M., & Dare, A. (2017). Gender, communication, and
leadership. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Posted Readings on BB as assigned

Course Evaluation

Assignment Pts

Profile of Woman Leader 10

Lean-in Presentation 10

Interview of local woman leader 10

Discussion Board posts 20

Final Project 35

Participation 15

Total 100

Assignment Descriptions (see course calendar for due dates)

**Note: please post all assignments (except reflections) on both the Digital
Dropbox and the Discussion Board so we can all learn from each other.

1) Profile a historical or contemporary woman leader – (10 pts)

a. Choose someone who is or was considered an important leader.

b. In a 2-3 page paper, write about the person’s fame as a leader (Who is
she? what is she known for leading?). Write about the kind of leader she is,
and her style of communication in her leadership.

2) Lean-in presentations (10 pts), 10-slide group presentation.

a. Your group will be assigned a chapter of Lean In to give a 10-slide group

presentation. Presentations should include an introduction, some
organized main points, and a conclusion. They should not exceed
the slide limit and should be something you yourself would want to
listen to as an audience member.

b. In your presentation answer: What were the chapter’s main points? What
are some examples from your own life that support her argument? What
are some strengths and weaknesses of this argument? Examples make
presentations interesting and relatable.

c. On your last slide, provide two discussion questions that will engage the

d. Students will respond to two of their classmates' discussion questions.

3) Interview local woman leader (10 pts)

a. Find a local woman leader in your community who will agree to be
interviewed for this assignment. Tell her the interview should only take
30-45 minutes. Ask if you can record it, but take notes also. If she declines
to be recorded, that is okay. Your notes should be enough. Don’t forget to
concentrate more on the conversation than on the note-taking.

b. Once you have completed your interview, reflect on how what this person
told you about her experience(s) leading others compared with our course
material and course discussions.

c. Write a 2-3 page paper wherein you 1) introduce the person to us, 2)
identify what kind of leadership style this person relies on most, use an
example from the interview to support your claim and connect to course
material, 3) What was surprising to you about what this person had to say.
Why? If nothing surprised you, apply two concepts from the readings that
you noticed from the results of your interview.

4) Discussion Board Posts (5 pts each= 20 pts)

a. Reflection 1:

Jesuit Pedagogy is a five-part process. It asks that you consider context,

your experience, some reflection, followed by action (you should not act
until you have thought it through, thoroughly), and finally evaluation.

For Post 1, focus on the first three.

Context questions: What course content has captured your


Experience questions: What is your experience with this

content? In what ways can you relate or not relate to this material?

Reflection: Given the context and your experience, what meaning

does this create? Is there something you have not considered? Is there
another way?

b. Reflection 2: Creating a Rubric for making decisions in the workplace. See

instructions on Blackboard

c. Reflection 3: Debate assignment

For this assignment you will be put into groups of two. In your group you
will pick a topic related to gender and leadership and decide who will
argue the pro side and who will argue the con side. Each member will
have 3-5 minutes to argue their side. After viewing the debate, you will
offer a 1 minute rebuttal. Some topics may include gender-neutral
bathrooms, Title IX, quotas for women in leadership positions,
mandatory gender sensitivity training, etc. Your debates will be recorded
and submitted with the Kaltura Media tool.
d. Reflection 4: Women’s Movements: After watching the PBS series Makers,
discuss what you found surprising about the documentary. What can we
apply from the documentary to work toward gender equality today?

5) Final Project (35 pts)

a. For your final project, you have the opportunity to create an outreach
project around the topic of women and leadership. The goal is to create a
hands-on project that can be useful for women’s leadership development.
The project should reflect the concepts and theories we have discussed in
class this semester. More details are posted on BB.

b. Some possible topics include:

• Presentation and discussion on representations of women leaders

in media for high school students
• Leadership training for girls on topics such as gender differences
in communication, negotiation, importance of mentoring, etc.
• Youtube video that explores women and leadership
• Website that offers resource materials on women and leadership.
• Designing a Girl Scout Badge for leadership.

c. There are three components of this project:

1. Proposals for Final (5 pts)

2. Progress Report (5 pts)
3. Final Projects (20 pts)
4. Presentation (5 pts)

6) Participation (15 Pts)

The fifteen points available for “Participation” will be determined based on your
ability to generate and sustain a class culture in which we co-construct
knowledge. It will be assessed over the entirety of the course based on your
contribution in class, your willingness to take the conversation in new directions,
your ability to make connections to the course readings, and to otherwise create a
strong academic community of learning.

Course Policies

You are expected to participate in class regularly and be on time, read assigned material
before class, and be prepared to participate constructively in class discussions. Your
participation in class activities is essential to the functioning of this course. There will be
several individual and group assignments throughout the session. Additionally, we will
discuss current events related to course material.

Late Work Policy

No late work is accepted. If you think your work will be late, try to get it to hit the “not
yet competent” column of the rubric because some points are better than none.

Academic Dishonesty

All work presented must be the original work of the student. Plagiarism is the offering of
the words or ideas of another as one’s own. A student found to be plagiarizing in this
course will automatically fail the course. Any questions regarding potential plagiarism
should be discussed with the professor before including the material in in the class work.

Email Communication

Email should be used to inform the instructors about general questions about the course,
or to set up appointments. Email should not be used to inquire about grades in the
course. These topics can be discussed by appointment. If you send an email to to me
after 5 P.M., it will not be read or answered until the following day. Slower responses can
be expected over the weekend.

Special Needs

Any students who need special accommodations for learning or who have particular
needs are invited to share these concerns or requests with me as soon as possible. You
must be registered with DREAM in order to receive special accommodations for this
course. If you have accommodations for taking exams or completing assignments, please
contact us
Course Calendar
*subject to change

Module 1: Foundations: Gender and Leadership

Week 1 Wood: Introduction

Wood CH 1: The Study of Communication, Gender and Culture

Wood CH 2: Theoretical Approaches to Gender Development

Wood CH 5: Gendered Verbal Communication

Wood CH 6: Gendered Nonverbal Communication

Cunningham, et al.: Introduction

Cunningham, et al.: Part I

West & Zimmerman PDF on BB: “Doing Gender”

Visit this URL and read:

“Wears Jump Suit. Sensible Shoes. Uses Husband's Last Name”

article by Deborah Tannen

Assignments Introductions
Discussion Post 1

Week 2 Vetter, “Overview: Feminist Theories of Leadership” (PDF on BB)

Billing and Alvesson, “Questioning the Notion of Feminine Leadership”

(PDF on BB)

Wendy Davis article (PDF on BB)

Sandberg and Grant, “Speaking While Female”

Bryant, “Finding and Owning Their Voice”

Assignments Woman leader profile

View Module video

PPT on leadership styles
Module 2: Gender Differences in Communication/Power

Week 3 Lean In

Assignments Lean-In Presentations

Week 4
Readings Wood CH 12: Gendered Power and Violence

Cunningham, et al.: Ch. 3-7

“A City Manager Thought His Staff Needed Training to Deal With Women”

Assignments Reflection 2
Local leader profile

View Module Video

Jackson Katz, Violence Against Women, It's a Men's Issue.

Module 3: Institutions, Organizations, Mass Media

Week 5: Wood CH 10: Gendered Organizational Communication

Cunningham, et al.: Ch. 8-11

Assignments: Debate Part 1

Final project proposals due

Week 6 Wood CH 11: Gendered Media

Cunningham, et al.: Ch. 13, Ch. 18

Gill, “Postfeminist Media Culture” (PDF on BB)

Parry-Giles, “Mediating Hillary Rodham Clinton: Television News

Practices and Image-Making in the Postmodern Age” (PDF on BB)

Assignments: Debate part 2

Final project progress report

Module 4: Social Change, Technology, and Global Contexts

Week 7: Wood CH 3: Rhetorical Shaping of Gender: Women’s Movements

Hess, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet”
View PBS series Makers:

Season 2: Episode 5 "Women in Business" and Episode 6, “Women in


Assignment Reflection-Women’s Movements

Week 8 Nanivadekar, “Overview: Women’s Leadership in the Global Context”

(PDF on BB)

Wacjman, “Feminist Theories of Technology” (PDF on BB)

Aarons-Mele, “Women as Leaders in the Digital Age” (PDF on BB)

Gambrell, Lakota Women as Leaders

Cunningham, et al., CH. 16, 17

Assignments Final Projects

10-side presentation of final projects
Course reflection