Multiple Forms of Oppression and Privilege

Creation Year
Monday, January 1, 2018 - 12:00
Year of most recent data
Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - 12:00

Lisa Miller, millerlr@eckerd.eduAssistant Professor of Sociology, Eckerd College, Sociology

Learning Goals


  • To understand how data supports the idea that there is a gender wage gap in the U.S.
  • To examine racial differences in earnings
  • Apply the concept of intersectionality, namely the intersection of different forms of oppression and privilege in shaping earnings

Quantitative Literacy

  • Identify the independent versus the dependent variable
  • Formulate hypotheses
  • Understand how to read and describe a univariate table
  • Understand how to read and describe a bivariate table
  • Understand the logic of control variables and why they are included
  • Interpret the results of a bivariate table when a control variable is included
Context for Use

This exercise was developed for a 200-level course on the sociology of gender, although it can also be used in introductory sociology, race/class/gender, and stratification courses. Ideally, this module would be assigned after the instructor has introduced the concept of intersectionality and/or to help students understand the intersection of gender and race.

This exercise is designed to help students understand the gender wage gap in America. In addition, the exercise is intended to help students better understand the concept of intersectionality, specifically the idea that it is not sufficient to solely look at one facet of identity when attempting to understand experiences with social life. Here, students see that racial minority women experience multiple forms of oppression (i.e., sexism and racism) that result in them receiving lower pay than white women. Simultaneously, this module pushes students to understand that there are racial differences in men’s experiences in the workplace, as well. In addition, the exercise is designed to help students consider how the intersection of two privileged categories (being white and male) shapes a social outcome, such as earnings.

Description and Teaching Materials

The module breaks a student assignment into two components. Part I requires students to analyze gender differences in earnings using the WebCHIP cross-tabulation program. Part II requires students to report the research methods and the findings of the analysis in a 1,250-1,500 word paper.

Attached to this module is a:

  1. PowerPoint Presentation: 15 slides to walk students through basic concepts and terms
  2. Module Assignment: 7 page assignment for distribution to students
  3. Quantitative Skill Assessment: a short multiple choice/short answer instrument to assess students’ understanding of quantitative concepts

A quantitative assessment instrument is attached to this module.

The primary aim of this module is for students to use American Community Survey data from 2014 to understand the intersection of gender and race in shaping earnings in America. Students begin by examining whether a gender wage gap exists in America. Afterwards, they control for race to see if these findings still hold. In doing so, they investigate whether the gender wage gap is eliminated or reduced among certain racial minority groups. The students also answer the following questions: what do racial differences in earnings look like among women? And what do racial differences look like among men?

Part I requires students to use WebChip to analyze U.S. Census data and answer a series of questions about the data. Part II requires students to write a research report where they describe their findings. Ideally, students will get feedback on Part I from their instructor prior to submitting the research report for Part II.

References and Resources

This exercise is adapted from modules by Dr. Jill Bouma (Berea College) and Dr. Kathy Rowell (Sinclair Community College).