19 Nov 2018

(Sociology of) Sex and Gender

SOC-UA 21

Robert Max Jackson

http://www.nyu.edu/classes/jackson/sex.and.gender




~~~ Gender Autobiographical Term Paper ~~~
~~~ Working Full Draft Feedback ~~~

~~~ Term Paper ~~~  
~~~Draft Feedback ~~~



The table below shows the assessments for the autobiography term papers.


ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
0199 very good / excellent excellent very good very good / excellent This is an exceptionally well-written paper. The biographical narrative is detailed, well organized, and compelling; the analytic effort is impressive; and the use of course materials is outstanding. We see a clear biographical trajectory and the organizing theme is a good strategy for such a paper. It works effectively here and is clearly organized. Still, we can see ways to improve. The paper should exercise more caution in attributing motives to others. We want to be wary of simply assuming or asserting that the motives of parents or others correspond to those used in a causal argument in the scholarly materials, for example, simply because their actions resemble those considered in the scholarly argument. For example, while many women have lost promotions to men due to some form of discrimination, some women (more as gender inequality declines) lose to men because they perform less well. As for the course materials, the draft uses a broad range and uses them accurately, it could show more depth. The principle of least interest, for example, is mentioned correctly in passing but without the attention or elaboration needed to make it meaningful (and without citation). More generally, consider if you could relate the causal or explanatory arguments in sources to the causes implied in your biography (rather than a behavioral similarity), the why's and how's. With regards to the presentation of the biographical material, you could consider doing a bit more "showing" through elaboration of specific anecdotes rather than "telling" with descriptive summaries. Your closing paragraphs add a nice consideration of where things might go forward. Again, however, these are paths to improve a very good draft. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
0956 good good / very good good good This paper provides a straightforward chronological account of developing gender identity (and, to a lesser degree, sexuality), with thoughtful interludes linking the biographical analysis to the class materials. It is clearly and coherently written. The material gives a fairly thorough biographical account, although its impact is somewhat limited by the distant and detached quality of the narrative. Nothing is quite concrete, mostly we read about patterns with little about events or any specifics. We get a reasonably good impression of the struggle with others' expectations about gender, but we don't get much about where this has led and why. From the beginning, we are facing questions of "so what?”, “where is this headed?" The paper would be more effective if it tried from the start to give more of a sense where it is going. The paper sets up a lot of material right from the start; is that so it can show how the biography challenges the material because of the author’s deviating from the norm (and why, and how) or is it to show how the author’s experience conformed? In other words, the paper could offer readers more of a sense from the beginning of what the argument is to be and then link every part to that goal. This will likely take care of the 'so what?' that the reader now keeps asking often as the paper is read. Similarly, while the efforts to tie in a wide range of readings are impressive, at times they wander a bit too far from the biographical material. For the final paper, it would be good if the paper could make tighter connections - that is, instead of it talking abstractly first and then concretely with examples, it could knit them together for a more powerful analysis. Also now that the paper has breadth, it would be good if it achieved greater depth, going deeper in its elaborations of how things work the way they do and for what reasons. Additionally, the paper should avoid making general statements about how the world is or how human behavior is without backing up those claims with evidence. If it is a claim paraphrased from an author, then the author's name should be mentioned prior to the paraphrasing to give some indication where those claims originate. Similarly, the paper would benefit from avoiding any lengthy presentations of the arguments in a scholarly piece. This is an analytic biography, which means that the scholarly materials largely should be applied to the biographical analysis, not presented separately from it. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
1005 good / very good good fairly good / good good / very good This paper shows some good biographical assessment and a good grasp of the course materials. The paper would benefit from a clearer theme or goal to tie it all together. Given that gender inequality commonly has an impact on most facets of a person's life, it is puzzling to a reader what was the basis for choosing the biographical situations discussed here. A clear theme or structure or argument would supply a rationale for the choices (it might also lead to changing some choices.) We want to recall that this paper is not about the gender related experiences we have had per se, but about the development of our gender identity. The paper would do better to ask what these stories say about the trajectory of gender identity, from where it began to where it is now, and what the future may bring. A stronger theme can give the paper more impact after revising it with respect to that theme or argument. Some parts of the paper now get a bit lost in discussions of gender issues in general or the related course materials. Although these are largely reasonable discussions, they are also distractions as they do not directly (or sometimes even indirectly) relate to the biographical account. Also, some of the analytic passages would benefit considerably from more in-depth exploration of the causal mechanisms. For example, the paper includes a quote by Kimmel about constructed standards of female beauty, but it does not go into what he says about why these standards take the specific shape they do, what is meant by 'beauty myths,' and why they are so unachievable. At another point the paper suggests that a part of Ridgeway's analysis is flawed but does not go further with that. In other words, when using quotes to help explore the causes and effects of biographical material, the paper will be more effective if it explored context and possible meanings of the referenced arguments instead of relying on quotes to be self-evident or to stand alone. Similarly, when offering a critique of someone's argument, the paper would do well to go further by discussing why it's flawed. Overall, the paper displays an impressive breadth of material. Going forward, the principal goal is for to flesh out the various connections the paper has made between scholarly material and the biography by going more in depth with each, taking the time to more fully explain the how things work, why they work the way they do, et cetera. Still, this is a good draft, offering a strong foundation for the final draft. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
1204 Nearing okay okay Nearing okay / okay good This draft shows good writing skills and provides some detailed biographical material. The topical focus is very interesting, but ultimately it is unclear how the biographical account relates to the subject's gender identity development. The presentation specifically denies that the subject assimilated the apparent implications of the youthful socialization experiences, so they did not become part of the emergent gender identity (although they presumably were supposed to). If they did affect gender identity beyond the accumulation of gendered experiences, we find no record of it in this paper. This draft also seems to have little to offer in the form of explaining why this gendered behavior exists. On the one hand it seems a bit out of place for the expected future of the relevant participants, given their economic class standing. On the other hand, it seems doubtful that parents were altogether ignorant of the way this school works, so they must consider the behavior normal and desirable in some fashion. Neither of these circumstances gets any attention in this draft. Of course, since this behavioral maelstrom seems not to have strongly affected the author's gender identity development, it is not apparent why it would be worthwhile to explore this behavioral pattern further. Instead, the revisions more likely should show something about what are the current characteristics of the author's gender identity, consider from where these came, and assess how they rather than other possibilities became prominent in the process of gender idenity development. This may include some way of showing that the experiences described in the initial draft have had long-term effects; this would involve both developing the biographical description for the gender identity in college and apparently making sense of why a powerful earlier socialization experience had such different effects than "expected." Beyond the biographical, the revisions should seek connections to a wider range of materials (as appropriate) and a delving deeper into sources so as to achieve depth as well as breadth. With the high quality writing and interesting biographical material, a good final paper is definitely in reach, but it will require significant work. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
1705 fairly good / good okay / fairly good okay / fairly good fairly good / good This draft is clear and easy to read, provides a good amount of biographical material, and does a fair job linking to course materials. In the end, however, we are left rather unclear what we are supposed to understand about the development of gender identity and what was the goal of the paper. It could really use a clearly defined argument, a theme with goals. What is it about gender identity that merits attention in this biographical account? What is it in the events and circumstances that make up this biography that were really important or revealing? It now reads too much as a collection of possibly interesting biographical things, that have some inherent order from their chronological occurrence but are other-wise just a bag of things. If the paper gains a stronger goal and resulting organization, it will also undoubtedly improve the links to the scholarly materials, because their value will be clearer in the service of an argument. The paper would improve if it consistently grounded claims in theory or data from the scholarly readings, as without that they come across as grand claims about how the world works. For example, the paper states that families have a significant impact on how we think of ourselves, but leaves us wondering, ""says who?"" In other words, when the paper makes claims about the world or social forces or family or whatever, the statements gain authority by using quotes or citations from readings. Also, the paper seems at times to stray from being an autobiography to being a story about parents. Parents and family are obviously relevant, but the focus should remain on the autobiographical story. Also, family in and of itself is not fully a cause. Certainly family can have a profound influence on who we are, how we behave and develop. But it's also important to understand why families reinforce and reproduce and pass on pre-existing cultural standards or traditions or norms and values. They are usually not the point of origin, but conveyors. For example, parents often exhibit a double standard about the sexual activities of sons and daughters. If this happens with our parents, it pro-vides an opportunity to assess what produces this reaction, and particularly to consider if there are relevant readings that illuminate this issue. Overall, the paper could use more analytic assessment and connections to scholarly ideas through-out, striving toward unpacking the causal processes and factors that shaped family interactions. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
2344 weak / Nearing okay Nearing okay / okay Nearing okay fairly good / good The initial draft appears to have a good start towards the final paper, although our ability to provide feedback is constrained for the obvious reasons. So far, the paper has some appropriate biographical material. With further development, it needs to stay focused on the author’s biographical experiences and development, not discussions of others inhabiting the same social worlds (except insofar as their behavior and expectations influenced the author’s biography). The draft so far only has hints on the use of scholarly material. Obviously, the final paper needs to refer to a much broader set of scholarly material, and it should aim for those links to focus more effectively on the compatibility between the main arguments in those materials and the causal analysis of the author’s biographical development. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
2897 very good very good very good good / very good This paper uses a creative and entertaining metaphor to tie together the three major parts; unfortunately, that metaphor becomes awkward and strained at some point. It would be good to either find a way to improve how it is being used or to substitute another metaphor with a similar intent that works better. This draft seems sometimes to be too simply attributing exclusively to gender inequality things that are less than optimal for women. Some may be, but for many such conditions gender inequality is a contributing cause but not the sole cause (e.g., adolescent girl's ignorance of their sexual biology or sexual potential reflects consequences of gender inequality, but adolescent boys are also typically not knowledgeable about the sexual biology of males, suggesting that more than gender inequality matters). Also, when gender inequality does contribute, it sometimes is an unintended or unanticipated result (e.g., probably few men want women to get less good health care then men). Similarly, we commonly cannot attribute specific events to gender inequality when other conditions might be decisive. When a man is promoted over a woman it could reflect gender inequality influences, but it also could be that he has displayed higher performance or that he is better like for reasons having nothing to do with gender - we need more information before we can hope to decide what was decisive. In some places the paper makes claims or judgments without any citations to scholarly work that would give weight to these claims – this is a pattern that can be fixed in revisions. The conclusion of the paper might usefully try to consider the analytical value of the metaphor used to organize the paper. Ultimately, how does it give us insight into the experience of gender identity development or into the way that gender inequality shapes people’s lives? ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
2956 weak weak / Nearing okay weak / Nearing okay okay This (incomplete) initial draft includes a fair range of topics but it does not really provide much biographical material. To turn this draft into a good paper will take a significant effort. At present, this is a chaotic set of disconnected and incomplete pieces. The discussions of scholarly material show appropriate concerns, but they are not clearly linked to biographical explanations and they sometimes fail to reflect accurately the intent of the scholarly argument. The repeated use of extreme modifiers (e.g. ""always"") and absolute claims (e.g., ""all men"") detracts from the paper, because the resulting statements are generally false. Such exaggeration may seem acceptable for casual conversations, but it is not appropriate for analytic, scholarly writing. Given that this must be a biography, the draft appears adrift when it talks about why gender inequality exists in general, which it often does. And for this draft to become a meaningful biography, it must have some sort of theme or structure (rather than just gathering together a variety of different examples of life experiences). This draft also largely neglects the principal goal of a gender biography, which is to describe the ways that gender has played a role in one’s life, how the subject’s gender identity has evolved, and how these biographical experiences might demonstrate conformity to or resistance of social influences. (Refer to the criteria for evaluating these papers). To turn this draft into an effective gender biography, the revisions need to flesh out the biographical anecdotes or events or aspects where gender was important, and when gender identity was changing or evolving. The revisions should bring in relevant readings or sources wherever the paper makes claims about how the world works, how some regional culture has an influence, or how some part of the social order is dominated by men. The paper should not assume that there are universal truths that are self-evident when making claims. It should always use scholarly materials to serve as evidence for statements about causal conditions and processes which give them much more power analytically. Also, the revisions should impose a sound organizational structure for the paper. This will help with the 'transitions' between parts, but it also will make for a more directed and careful analysis. The revisions may also involve selecting a smaller set of important biographical material that contribute clearly to a unified theme and that can be explored in depth. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
3608 okay Nearing okay / okay Nearing okay / okay good / very good This draft is well written and easy to read, it has clear biographical narratives, and it tries to connect those narratives to the scholarly materials. Unfortunately, the paper still leaves the reader with limited insight into the author’s gender identity and its development. We see a family asserting typical "traditional" gender expectations (with some of the usual reasons for being on the more conservative end of these expectations for a family in the US), and the child becoming gradually less comfortable with these as the family becomes less a center of life. This is fine, but it would be good to go deeper, both in terms of the development of gender identity and the scholarly materials. When thinking about the author’s current gender identity, what is atypical, conflicted, or challenging? Biographically, when has gender been significant to the author’s education, conception of the future, troubling events, and so forth? The paper could use a better organizational structure from the beginning - some way of setting up your paper so it's clear where it is headed. While there is an appearance of this on the first page, it is difficult to discern an overarching theme beyond the disadvantage of gender inequality – this is not really an effective organizational principle, particularly given that this is the theme of the entire course. This draft suggests a need for extra effort to focus on using the readings in a more developed and analytical way. In this draft, they largely appear in a cursory way with a limited depth of reasoning. Ideally, the references to the scholarly readings will show a careful selection of the ones that fit and will display an understanding of what they mean and how the concepts work. This includes avoiding references that do not fit or offering interpretations that are misleading – an example to consider here would be the use of evolutionary arguments, which we have seen are frequently misused. Also, this draft seems to sometimes lose its focus on the biography of the author to shift to explanations of others (which should only occur if that contributes to the analysis of the author’s gender biography). In brief, the revisions should shift the paper’s focus more onto analyzing the development of the author’s gender identity and seek to use the scholarly materials more effectively. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
3839 very good / excellent very good / excellent very good / excellent very good This draft has a clear theme, is easy to read, and displays good analytical skills. It is particularly notable how it thoughtfully considers when life experiences sometimes match the expectations of a scholarly argument and sometimes call such expectations in question. The paper also does an exceptional job of looking critically at the ways that subcultures may reproduce qualities of the dominant culture even as they see themselves as rebelling and escaping. The paper links the biographical material to a good range of the scholarly material we read and shows a strong understanding of that material. What can the paper go from here? Well, the writing could use some improvements, tightening the prose and the narrative (probably more in the first third), and strengthening the organization by improving transitions and ensuring that all parts clearly relate to the main themes. It is also always worth looking carefully at the ways you have linked to the scholarly materials - does the presentation make clear how the scholarly arguments apply (or do not), have relevant scholarly arguments been neglected? In a few places, the paper uses quotes and brings in concepts without defining them or going into much of the underlying logic. This is the case, for example, when the paper mentions Ridgeway's "primary category system" but does not define it or give us any of the context for it. This improves as the paper progresses, however. So, there is room for improvement, but this is really good work. Overall, it shows significant effort to use ideas from the scholarly works to interpret and analyze life experiences and biographical development in the ways we are hoping for. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
4316 okay okay Nearing okay / okay okay / fairly good This draft shows considerable effort, has some good biographical material, and provides some good connections to the course material. Still, the paper needs considerable work. The first few pages of this draft largely go back and forth between general statements and commentary on the author’s family - as such they don't add much in the way of biography or biographical analysis and could be reduced to at most one page with no loss. Pages five through the end do a better job. Also, while the tension between family traditions and culture and the author’s life in NYC is interesting and could provide a good analytical foundation, it relies too much on describing the parents and does not use enough concrete examples where these two cultures conflict when it comes to gender. Although the general characterizations of parents and the culture of their upbringing appear reasonable, suggesting that everyone from those circumstances have the same ideas and orientation is not convincing. Most noticeably, the paper needs stronger analysis and causal claims explored by bringing in class material. Substantial work will need to be done to make better and clearer connections to a diverse range of readings. The way that the readings are now sometimes used shows some misunderstandings with the logic of the arguments themselves. In a couple places, the paper refers positively toward ideas from the readings that were actually being criticized in those readings as being inaccurate or ill conceived - it would be wise to review all the referenced reading material to be sure that the interpretation used in the paper is consistent with that in the readings. The writing is generally clear, and the overall structure works okay, but flow is sometimes cumbersome, and the paper could use a careful edit for grammar and sentence structure. This draft seems to offer the start of a very good paper here, but it will take some serious revision work to bring it to that level. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
4989 poor / weak weak / Nearing okay poor / weak weak We see some beginning material here, but this paper has a long way to go. It shows little beyond putting together a couple weekly pieces. These include some biographical description, but we do not get much of a portrait of your gender identity or its development. The use of class materials is narrow and a bit shallow. The writing needs a lot of work. More generally, this paper needs significant work in all regards. It suffers from problems of organization, writing and a lack of understanding of the class concepts. While it conveys some of a gendered biography, there is not enough here to constitute a well-developed and thorough analysis. A starting point may be to come up with more examples of biographical material where gender played a significant role. Then think about what we have read or discussed in class that explains why something does or doesn't play out the way that it is expected to. Finally, the paper requires considerably more effort at elaborating concepts in order to show the reader awareness of the main ideas and an understanding of how to explain them and use them. From this draft the understanding is not clear. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
5015 good / very good very good very good / excellent very good / excellent This paper reads easily with a clear theme, tight organization, and good prose. It makes good use of the scholarly material, entering into thoughtful consideration of ways the ideas fit and don't fit your biographical experiences. Where to go from here? One obvious consideration would be to attempt a comparison with what would have occurred were you born with the opposite sex. Starting from that point, you'll may see a range of possibilities fan outwards, which could produce further insights into your actual biographical development. It is worth noting that the paper shifts back and forth between talking about the experience of identity, the performance of identity, and other people's perceptions and responses to perceived identity without appearing aware of the shifts between these three perspectives. Identifying exactly where and why the analysis makes these shifts might lead to some unexpected insights (at the least, it should lead to improvements in the presentation). The conclusion could be stronger. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
5110 good / very good good / very good good / very good good This paper has good analyses of thoughtful biographical material, pursuing a consistent theme. The flow is a bit choppy, jumping between specific topics with uneven transitions, and with the reasoning behind the order of the topics sometimes obscure. You could try creating an outline from this draft so that the organization is more apparent to you, potentially moving some topics into a more workable order, ensuring that the paper has an introduction that makes sense of the organization, and ensuring that the paper has smooth transitions between all topics. While the paper does a good job referencing class materials, it is rarely optimal to make those materials the subject with phrasing like "one thing I found interesting in ... "; instead mostly use the materials as scholarly support for the observations and interpretations reported in the narrative. Also, overall, the connections to class readings don't go quite far enough. When bringing in the principle of least interest, for example, the paper will succeed more if it goes further into the workings of this concept and elaborate both how it plays out more generally and then how it plays out in the relationships described in the paper. This sort of elaboration - getting much deeper and really delving into the causal mechanisms - is important for improving the analysis and giving the paper more of a purpose. In other words, the paper should strive for more depth and analysis now that it has achieved the breadth. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
5158 weak / Nearing okay weak / Nearing okay weak / Nearing okay Nearing okay / okay This paper is easy to read and offers some relevant biographical material. However, it does not get much beyond a general description of a child whose adoption of behaviors reflecting the surrounding culture disappoints parents from a different culture. The experiences of different cultural upbringing (especially in comparison or in tension with current experiences in NYC) could be a fruitful strategy, as it should provide many examples of relevant biographical anecdotes. In this draft, the variety of biographical anecdotes have no effective connecting theme to make a coherent paper. Instead, the draft feels strung together from the weekly biographies. The paper needs a fuller portrait of the author's gender identity or some part of that identity, and a clearer analysis of the circumstances that led to that identity (and those that worked against it). It also needs a broader and deeper effort to connect the biographical developments to the class materials. In its current form, the few references to class materials are largely superficial pointers to places that happen to touch on the topic in the narrative. We are looking for engagement with the scholarly material as a source of ideas against which to assess one’s biographical experiences. Also, we advise using a friend to proofread or outside writing help. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
5387 okay Nearing okay / okay Nearing okay fairly good This draft is well written and interesting, but it does not provide much insight into the development of gender identity. At the most general level, the problem is one of 'so what'? The paper focuses on one aspect of family relationships that of itself does not give us much insight into gender. Seemingly, the behavioral pattern had little lasting significance for the author’s gender identity (as described in the paper), which means it does not get us far. Yes, it may illustrate ways that people have different expectations for girls and boys, but, of itself, that does not provide insights into gender identity. (And, we should note that both boys and girls engage in such behavior as children, both with the same sex and opposite sex. More expected with boys than girls, yes, but this is a distributional difference, not a categorical one.) Indeed, seemingly the most notable thing about the central narrative is that a potentially highly gendered pattern of early behavior had no obvious implications for a young adult gender identity. Note also that the paper provides no support for the characterization of what is expected of a typical sibling relationship of the type considered on page 9 - and it is unlikely that most people share this expectation. The use of course materials here shows some promise, but it is rather narrow and selective. It tends to describe scholarly arguments more than using them as part of an analysis. In short, we are looking for some insight into your current gender identity and what produced it - this paper seems largely about what did not. It would be useful to broaden both the biographical narrative and the range of course materials considered as part of analyzing the causes and effects of gendered biographical experiences for gender identity. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
5404 weak / Nearing okay Nearing okay / okay Nearing okay okay This paper demonstrates strong writing skills, but it evades, more than it addresses, the goals of biography and analysis. Biographically, we do not see much description of biographical experiences or the path of development that gender identity followed. Rather we get general characterizations of biographical conditions mixed with generalized claims. Much of what appears in this draft could be condensed into a couple pages with no loss of information. We want to see a richer portrait of gender identity, how it developed over time, and what biographical experiences mattered. The paper should strive to use a broader set of the course materials that are relevant, being much more concise about them (we do not usually quote scholarly material extensively unless we have a reason to discuss that material analytically, we quote only the most important segment or paraphrase or simply reference). This paper should adopt more of the style of an analytic, academic argument and less of a personal essay. The paper shows some effort to use a range of readings, but these readings need to be used more accurately and effectively to make for a good paper. Currently, there is little sense of the 'so what' in reading; the writing appears more as an effort to think through the concepts and the biography as the writing occurs, rather than achieving a well-thought-through academic analysis of gendered experience. For the final paper, it might be a good strategy to broaden the biographical examples to include a few others - not necessarily connected to the gendered separation of children - to provide readers not only more relevant stories but also to offer more of a foundation for bringing in other concepts and readings, achieving greater breadth. Once that is accomplished, focus on really conveying an understanding of reading concepts beyond just quoting them. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
8093 okay okay Nearing okay / okay good / very good This is a highly readable draft with some good biographical material. It has made a start with linking to relevant scholarly materials, but that aspect of the paper needs significantly more development. A lot more materials are relevant, and the use of these materials would best aim more at the implications of their arguments for causal analyses. From the beginning, it is not clear where the paper is going – is it going to tell us about the author’s entire life? Parts of it? What is the theme or the organization of the paper? It would be helpful if the paper gave some sense of the organization up front. The biography includes both some atypical and typical aspects; it could go deeper into the implications of the clash between these aspects for the development of gender identity. The paper includes statements that assert an abstract entity like “society” or “my town” caused behaviors, responses, or outcomes; these claims are too generic and vague. We know, for example, that 'society as a whole' is not actually what causes or maintains or reveals inequality. At least not in any sort of direct way. Causal statements attributing events and outcomes to abstract entities lack a sufficient causal mechanism – we know that is not quite how it works. There is a whole lot more going on, so the paper will succeed much more if it takes readers through the process of how we get socialized or exposed to things or how norms and values shape our lives via institutions. Throughout, the paper will benefit from a focus on causal analysis, on why things happened as they did, on why identity developed as it did in response. Too often in the draft, the text neglects the question “why?”, “why does it work this way,” for example when discussing men exchanging sexist jokes – the paper neglects critical related questions such as why do male groups uses humor about women when they could bond through other kinds of jokes or what does it mean to characterize behavior as sexist. In short, this draft leaves significant room for improvement. Still, with the strong writing skills on display, this should turn into a very good paper. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
8690 poor / weak fairly good okay / fairly good good This is an extremely powerful paper, detailed in its biographical narrative and revelations, honest in its expressions of difficult emotions. And it is well written, building in pace and dramatic effect. All that is impressive. As such, this shows strong promise for a good analytical paper. Where it falls short is obvious, and that is the lack of connections to the course materials. Heading into the final paper, it will be important to bring in more themes and concepts from class readings. This has been done in some places already. Try to think more about how inequality frames the experiences you write about; how it is that inequality gives rise to these dynamics and experiences, even beyond the experiences of any given individual. There are themes in your paper that can - and do - connect quite clearly to a system of inequality: fear, vulnerability, aggression, sexual dominance, to name a few. So, let’s make thematic connections to gender inequality and clear use of arguments from scholarly materials the emphasis of the revisions. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
8702 excellent excellent very good / excellent good / very good Overall, this is a strong draft, with a lot of clear biographical narrative that is intelligently linked to strong interpretations of ideas developed throughout our class. It clearly conveys concepts and how they work (the mechanisms). The paper has a clear trajectory about gender identity development over time. It also shows the logical steps of the argument in a straightforward, concise, well-written way. Of course, there is room for improvement. The prose relies too much on passive voice, particularly in early pages. Not only does this detract from the writing, but it looks like a tactic (probably unrecognized) to avoid some "how and why" questions. Please introduce formal citations for all references to course/scholarly materials. This paper does an excellent job using ideas from the class, but it repeatedly neglects referencing the sources of the ideas. Also, we have to be wary of inferring that a general causal pattern is the decisive cause in a specific case or personal history without supporting evidence. For example, we know that various aspects of gender inequality sometimes obstruct women's promotions in workplaces - but women also lose competitions for promotion to men when the men are better at the job. We cannot know which kind of cause was decisive in a particular case without more details (and sometimes it is impossible to know). With respect to the writing, the movement between parts of the paper are a bit jarring, for example where it begins to discuss work experiences. Two plausible solutions (which you might combine) are: (1) introduce better transitional paragraphs that connect the preceding and following sections each time to the specified overarching theme of the paper; (2) use subheads to divide the paper into sections explicitly. This also suggests that the chronological organization is effective, but that highlighting a now implicit theme (clearer at the end) from the beginning would give the paper more power and make fitting the parts together easier. One specific place that the paper might draw upon more of the ideas presented in class readings is the analysis on pages 9-11; several pieces presented ideas that might be applied to explaining the processes described here. Again, this is an excellent initial draft, so these are ideas about strategies to make it an outstanding paper. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
8918 good fairly good / good fairly good / good good This paper has some good, forthright biographical material; it consistently seeks to analyze the biographical events developmental significance; and it shows a good grasp of the course materials. What could it use to do better? While the organization has chronological coherence, this draft is built on several weekly pieces that have been related to a common theme, but they are still only loosely connected; the transitions are weak or missing and the focus shifts sharply going from one section to the next. The analysis of parental effects would be more compelling if the paper compared what occurred with what would be expected if the caretaking parent and the child were both of the opposite sex from what is discussed here (to try and identify gender effects). Also, it is important here and elsewhere to keep the focus on the biographical subject (people like parents may be inherently interesting, but here we are interested only in their consequences for the biographical subject). The paper would also benefit from considering both the drawbacks and the advantages gained from the experienced arrangements. Another area that could be improved is a reliance on broad general or causal claims without much evidence backing them up. This includes, for example, statements that make very general claims about groups, such as if a paper were to say that all young men are aggressive, or the native culture of an immigrant parent will always affect their children. These sorts of causal claims are commonly inaccurate when offered as a generalization. It is best to substitute narrower claims that can be linked to readings that explicitly give a theoretical basis for such claims. Finally, while the paper displays a clear effort to make connections between biography and class material and draws on a few readings – all of which is good - the development of each of these links is rather scant. The paper will become more convincing if it goes a bit deeper with each connection to develop more completely how and why the relevant readings apply and also if it works at being more accurate with the material. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
8966 Nearing okay okay Nearing okay / okay fairly good The introduction points toward a reasonable theme - experiences of conflict with gender expectations. Unfortunately, these episodes appear like a string of weekly paper excerpts that lack a clear organization, transitions, and progressive narrative. Also, at least one is not about gender. The presentation also needs an effort to explain the biographical experiences. It is not enough to explain the behavior of those who conform to cultural expectations about gender, we also need to explain the choices and actions that contradict or defy those expectations. The references to course materials show a fair effort to make the right connections, but they are too often vague: the link appears only to be about discussion that is moderately related by subject rather than a specific argument that relates to the causal claim in question and to make it more problematic, the citations repeatedly point toward a whole book or article rather than specific pages. The paper's use of concepts from readings falls a bit short in this draft. In certain cases, it mentions a concept such as 'influence hierarchies" without defining the concept. It would work better if the paper provided an explanation of the concept (which might be a brief clause for simple ones or a couple sentences for more complex ones) and showing how the concept provides insight into the biographical process rather than just state that something in a person's life is what Ridgeway (or another author) might call X or Y. Rather than providing a descriptive assessment applying terms from readings, the paper should aim to investigate more of the "why's and how's" of the biographical developments. As it now stands, this initial draft starts to produce a "so what?" response part way through - it is unclear what the point might be. A brief attempt to address this issue appears at the end, but this is not a sufficient remedy. Rather, the paper needs to place such thematic ideas in the forefront, assert an argument about them, and organize the biographical analysis around explicating the central claims. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
9377 fairly good / good good fairly good / good good A highly readable and thoughtful paper that offers a serious attempt at self-examination. It's clear what the draft is trying to achieve, it has a clear connecting thread, and it shows a breadth of biographical examples that effectively connect to this theme. The flow of the paper is a bit awkward, in part due to an unsuccessful reliance on piecing together weekly pieces. It will be key in the final draft to develop transitions that connect the various sections of the paper. The paper uses course materials knowledgeably in places, but also neglects them in other places. While the analysis is underdeveloped, what has been written effectively elaborates relevant concepts; the paper does not just mention passages or concepts but takes the time to explain the logical steps or the causal processes that connect a reading or idea to the biographical account. If this is done to the fullest in the final draft, that will be even better. Go through and identify where the paper makes "claims" and where it offers biographical accounts; for each of these, ask if it has successfully connected them to course material. Also look for all generalizations and ask if they are defended or necessary (for example, a statement that begins “I feel like …”). A couple things neglected that are worth pursuing: (1) The paper discusses a dominant emotional outlook that varies from what most in similar circumstances would experience - what explains that difference? The paper does describe one family and one personal relationship that it suggests might be important, but they don't seem sufficient as presented here. The paper might consider how this emotional experience exists within a context of inequality and why inequality is so overwhelmingly important to thinking about and understanding the emotional experience. (2) The paper seems to describe a pattern where of repeatedly placing oneself into circumstances that are experienced as unpleasant - how do we account for this? (3) Also, the paper might consider where these things are headed. With respect to all these concerns, try to think through comparisons. How would the key experiences differ if you were of the opposite sex (how would you be treated differently, how would your perceptions differ)? How do we account for the differences in your biographical trajectory (and that of those who share your trajectory) from those who share your sex but have a very different trajectory? ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
9435 good / very good good good good / very good This paper presents some thoughtful and honest biographical material and makes a strong effort to connect it to the scholarly material from our class. This will be a good foundation for the final version, but it needs more development. At times, especially in the first half, the paper relies on general, sometimes vague, characterizations of biographical developments, neglecting to include descriptions of events, or more concrete conditions and experiences. This leaves parts of the paper feeling distant and elusive. The causal statements are at times too simplistic. For example, that men are the advantaged group does not mean that all cultural content represents men's choices and interests - men's interests are often ambiguous and often at odds with other men. Also, that women are disadvantaged does not mean they are simply passive and obedient or that their only concerns are men (e.g., women compete with other women). To simply attribute beauty standards to men, for example, is a dubious claim, although some people may have said this as political rhetoric. Women who use dress and use cosmetics with special care have been known to comment on men’s inability to recognize any of the subtle choices and variations. So, if men commonly cannot tell the difference, who is responsible and why are women concerned about these choices? And, why would it make any difference if the standards for beauty were influenced more by men or by women? Although the paper does present a theme that seems reasonable, the several segments of the paper now seem isolated from each other. So, in the revisions it would be a good idea to clarify the unifying theme(s), to ensure that every section illustrates it main biographical contentions with some concrete narratives, and to provide good transitions between sections (as well as seeing that each section has its relationship to the central theme made clear). The use of scholarly materials could be stronger throughout, but particularly in the late parts of the paper. For the most part, the connections made to specific readings are good in this draft but rather under-developed. The answers to “how?” and “why?” questions are critical to this type of analysis, but in this draft, they seem often overlooked. One good revision strategy for a paper like this is to examine each paragraph, from start to end, to ask if the paper offers a good sense of the how and why - the causal mechanisms driving the biographically relevant conditions and actions. Has the paper you gone far enough to explain how something works the way it does? This draft can become an outstanding paper, but it will take some focused effort to reach that goal. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments
9728 fairly good / good fairly good fairly good good The first half of the paper does a good job exploring one facet of your gender identity; the remainder of the paper seems a bit directionless and lacks similar depth. While the paper makes a strong effort to consider how diverse scholarly arguments might apply to the gender identity facet considered at length, some of the ideas seems strained. For example, while the discussion of Ridgeway's framing is sound, it seems an odd argument to apply here. So does the discussion of evolutionary psychology. In part, the issue is one of being more selective of scholarly arguments that help illuminate the behavior or conditions to which the paper applies them. In part, the presentation suffers because the text does not make clear how the ideas being discussed apply to the biographical and social issues in question. More generally, the paper could use a stronger organization and deeper analysis. Organization might be improved by focusing on the identity issue discussed in the first half of the paper, but considerably expanding breadth and depth of analysis. Alternatively, the paper could more fully develop the topics in the latter half or find its direction through a decision about what else is critical or revealing about the author’s gender identity. Analytically, the paper would benefit if it unpacked and further developed the how's and why's of the concepts and ideas used to assess the biographical material. This is the next step of analytical sophistication: going beyond just mentioning an idea or quote to really explaining what an author is saying and why they say it and how it works in real life. At the same time, the paper sometimes errs in the opposite direction by attributing thoughts and motivations to actors because their actions mirror actions discussed in theoretical accounts. While the actions we observe biographically may reflect the causal forces from scholarly analyses, they may also result from personalities or situations. For example, while some women will be denied promotions due to discrimination, cultural stereotypes, or the like, some other women will fail to get promoted for the same reasons that men do not get them: they are less competent, have less experience, or are less likeable. With these kinds of improvements, the draft can turn into a fine paper. ***
ID Use of Materials Analytical Biography Causal Analysis Quality of Writing Comments




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