This article examines a course designed to help women better understand hockey and, as the organizers argue, thereby engage more fully in workplace pre-meeting chatter and improve their chances of promotion.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Careers, business studies, social studies

Key Questions to Explore:

  1. Should an office culture not be all-inclusive?
  2. Why should women have to take special courses to be included in the office culture?
  3. What about courses for men?
  4. Why is participation in office discussions and activities so important?

New Terminology:

Icebreaker, office culture

Materials Needed:

Copies of or access to the article

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

The disparity between men’s and women’s pay scales and corporate positions has been the centre of heated debate for a considerable time. Much has been made of the “glass ceiling” that has been said to limit women’s advancement, but there is now some belief that that ceiling is being broken and that the gap is closing. For many, however, the pace is too slow. This raises the question of whether or not business culture is still disadvantageous for women. Are corporate boardrooms still old boys’ clubs where women don’t fit in? Some well-meaning (and entrepreneurial) people have come forward with strategies to help women adapt to that culture. This lesson will have the students use the article as a basis to debate whether these initiatives are helpful or condescending to women. It raises the question of why such initiatives should even be deemed necessary. Are merit and ability not more important than gender?

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by explaining to the students that, even today, in many instances men’s and women’s pay scales are different.
  • Ask the students to offer their ideas as to why that might be the case.
  • Using this brief discussion as background, explain to them that some initiatives are being offered to help women fit into the informal office culture so that they will not be at a disadvantage when the opportunity of promotion comes along.
  • Provide the students with a copy of the article and allow them time to read it.
  • Get their responses to what they have read.
  • Take a poll of the class asking for an indication as to whether they think this is a good idea or an insult to women.
  • Divide the class into two groups depending upon their responses, and inform the groups that they are to prepare to debate the following statement:

Be it resolved that courses such as that on hockey appreciation are insulting to women and should not be needed in an enlightened society.

  • Allow the groups time to prepare their arguments.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Hold a loosely structured class debate during which the students can present their opinions and listen to opposing arguments.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

  • The students will understand the term ‘office culture’ and the role it plays in today’s business world
  • The students will appreciate the different challenges facing men and women as they endeavour to be part of an office culture.

Confirming Activity:

  • For homework assign the following essay question:

What do you believe should be done to ensure that any office culture is inclusive and respects each of the individuals in that setting? Be specific with your suggestions, including examples if appropriate.