First Advisor

Sarah Ensor

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and University Honors




Language arts (Secondary) -- Sex differences, Language arts (Secondary) -- Curricula, Language arts (Secondary) -- Social conditions, Academic achievement




In American schools, young women are routinely provided with examples of strong male characters and authors in the high school English classroom. Written curriculum (such as the syllabus, reading list, and grading practices) continues to contribute to the erasure of the female student. Furthermore, hidden curriculum (lessons that are taught “unintentionally” such as norms or values), such as a teacher’s use of gendered language, or time spent with students of different genders, reflects this same problem as teachers unintentionally disempower the female voice in the classroom. The result is female students who are less confident in the classroom and the workplace later in life. To combat this issue, I present an alternative to the traditional English curriculum that is more gender inclusive and empowering. The syllabus will include not only suggestions for literature, but also ideas for leading class discussion, workshops, and assignments that serve to empower the young female student and empower male students with the skills necessary to combat continued gender issues. Should this class be taught, students would finish with a strong understanding of literature, vocabulary, and writing. However, students would also leave the class with a better knowledge of the complex topic of women's rights. Female students would have developed a more confident approach to learning, and a more empowered discourse.


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