Class Exercise: “How Would People Rate These Occupations?”


This class activity can be modified to take anywhere from 15-75 minutes of class time.

Its purpose is to illustrate core constructs in the theory in a way that also taps class members’ own experiences



Ø    The rating task is especially useful for introducing the following constructs


·        Occupational map: A key part of the Circumscription and Compromise theory is the occupational map. The rating task shows that people share essentially the same occupational map because each group (and all members in the group) will rate occupations in essentially the same way according to prestige and sextype. (There will be variation, of course, but all groups will produce highly similar graphs.) Note: Children begin to perceive and take seriously the sextype and prestige dimensions of work during the elementary school years and by age 13 share the same maps as adults. 

·        Social self-concept: An important aspect of the shared occupational map is that it relates mostly to the social, not the psychological, aspects of work—briefly, what kind of life an occupation provides outside of work.

·        Circumscription: By depicting the entire world of work, the occupational map helps illustrate the process of circumscription. Young people begin circumscribing (narrowing) their choices early in childhood without even realizing it. According to the theory, they first rule out sections of the map that are too masculine (if a girl) or too feminine (if a boy). They won’t reconsider these rejected options unless something forces or encourages them to. By age 9 or so, they begin to rule out occupations that are too “low” (in prestige) or too “high” (in education and ability requirements).

·        Social space (zone of acceptable alternatives): What is left after circumscription is the child’s social space—the sectors of the occupational world where they assume are socially suitable for them. This space often leaves out options for which the person actually has the interest and ability.



Ø    Rating task


1.     This exercise should be handed out at the previous class meeting so that students can complete their ratings of all occupations on the list before coming to class. It wastes time to have students do it in class.

2.     Break students into small groups when they get to class. Ask each group to pool their ratings to come up with a combined group rating for each occupation on the rating sheet.

3.     While they are pooling their ratings, draw an empty figure (see below) for each group on the chalkboard. Draw and label both axes (prestige and sextype).

4.     Groups will fill in the figures based on their combined ratings. Ask each group to write each occupation’s name in their empty figure according to the combined rating the group gave it for sextype and prestige. Each group should fill in its figure as soon as they finish getting a combined group rating for each occupation.

5.     If necessary, all these steps can be completed before class to save in-class time.

6.     If groups aggregate their ratings during class, circulate among them to observe and ask questions.



Ø    Figure: The shared occupational map


·        Show this figure on an overhead transparency projector after all groups have finished putting their ratings on the blackboard.



Ø     Supplementary graphics & cartoons


·        Can be used to illustrate many constructs in the theory