Gender-Focus Teaching Cases
"Labeling all discrimination “unconscious bias” only provides cover for those who are consciously biased to continue in unrepentant acts of prejudice."
The Double X Economy
Pressure is rising to produce cases that are more
inclusive, especially from a gender perspective.
- Linda Scott
Business schools make heavy use of “the case method,” a form of teaching in which short narratives pose problems confronting a company. The case studies teach students to put themselves in certain situations and use the given information to reason their way out.
Unfortunately, most of the case studies that have been produced for this purpose feature only men as the main characters, as well as mostly Western situations. Indeed the lessons usually are built around challenges peculiar to very large companies.
This “rich white male world” is quite a bit less relevant in the global economy and is seen as an exclusionary vision by many of today’s students. So, pressure is rising to produce cases that are more inclusive, especially from a gender perspective. For example, in January 2014, Nitin Nohria, Dean of Harvard Business School, promised his alumni that HBS would be adding cases where the protagonists are female, raising the number of such cases from 9% to 20% of the total in five years. The HBS Dean took a risk admitting that his school had a gender bias. After three years, however, they had to backtrack, saying that there just wasn’t enough material out there.
My team doesn’t have the resources of Harvard Business School, but I think we are onto a better model for gender-inclusive cases than just making the protagonists female. It isn’t really enough to change the names from “Bob” to “Sue.” If students are truly going to grasp how women interact with business, the real conditions of gender need to be reflected—from lesser access to capital to mobility constraints.
We have developed cases that address various gender issues within a business context. Most of them are also international in scope and several are set in developing countries. They are all free for download below:
CARE Bangladesh Rural Sales Program (RSP) - Teaching Case
CARE Bangladesh Rural Sales Program (RSP) - Teaching Note
Finance After Hours, DragonBank, China
Pampers and UNICEF, Teaching Note, Part 1
Pampers and UNICEF, Teaching Note, Part 2
Avon in Africa - Teaching Case
Avon in Africa - Teaching Note
Power Shift 2015 Teaching Case (MWEDO)