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Programme & Unit Catalogues

PL51030: The politics of gender inequality

[Page last updated: 05 August 2021]

Academic Year: 2021/2
Owning Department/School: Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: CW 45%, ES 55%
Assessment Detail:
  • Coursework (CW 15%)
  • Coursework (CW 15%)
  • Coursework (CW 15%)
  • Essay (ES 55%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Aims: Why are women underrepresented in national parliaments and as leaders of countries? What determines policy change to promote gender equality? Can policy interventions shift culture and gender norms, and how can we prevent backlash? This unit examines the causes and consequences of gender inequality broadly considered (in the workforce, political life, and the household) from an interdisciplinary perspective. We will draw on theory and literature from political science, economics, sociology and other disciplines to learn about cutting edge research in the field. Starting with definitions of gender and the evolution of gender norms and preferences over time, we will critically analyze links between gender identity and multiple facets of life, from reaching senior management roles to organizing child care within the family to running for office . The unit takes an in-depth look into areas where ongoing challenges exist, paying special attention to promising policies or interventions to promote gender equality. Additionally, the unit introduces students to the process of writing an independent research proposal, with a focus on selecting an appropriate method to answering the research question.

Learning Outcomes: The goals of the course are for students to become experts in the politics of gender inequality, to improve their writing, learn to give and receive academic feedback, and to hone critical thinking skills by analyzing potential solutions to gender inequality across democracies. By the end of the course, students will:
* Develop a comprehensive understanding of the current state of gender gaps in the corporate world, political opportunity, and within households
* Critically assess the efficacy (advantages and limitations) of various methods of closing these gender gaps
* Develop original perspectives of what we know and don't know yet about the causes, consequences, and proposed solutions to gender inequality, and debate these with peers
* Demonstrate self-direction and independence by designing a feasible empirical research proposal related to closing gender gaps, and giving constructive feedback to peers on their proposals.

Skills: Skills in critical analysis, clear writing, peer review, teamwork, selecting research methods and the planning/conduct/reporting of research are developed and assessed in this unit.

Content: The content of the course will include: defining gender, gender norms and gendered preferences, the second shift, the gender pay gap, the `baby penalty', women in leadership, gender quotas. The content will also include a refresher on political science research methods, with content on descriptive versus causal inference, and how to develop each step of a research proposal.

Programme availability:

PL51030 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies

PL51030 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2021/22 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2022/23 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2021/22.
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