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Curriculum Level: 9-12

By Jessamyn Bailey from High Point Central High School

OVERVIEW OF LESSON: The goal of this lesson is to give students the background knowledge and critical thinking skills to analyze gender equality in different societies and to advocate for equity for all genders. The lesson presents global facts, a regional contemporary artist, and guided discussions on the topic of gender equality. This lesson covers the SDG Goal 5: Gender equality and its six targets. Students will explore a variety of activities to ground themselves in this topic. The lesson can stand alone, or be paired with Gender Equality, Gender Portraits for further exploration.

SUGGESTED GRADE LEVELS: This lesson is written for High School Art 2 but is adaptable for middle school and high school students, 7th-12th grade and for class periods of different lengths.

SUBJECT: Visual Art (It could also be adapted for use in an ELA or social studies classroom.)


Visual Literacy:

I.V.1.4: Analyze images through the process of deconstruction (the components of the image and its meaning).

Contextual Relevancy:

I.CX.1: Understand the global, historical, societal, and cultural contexts of the visual arts.

I.CX.1.2: Understand the role of visual art in documenting history.

Critical Response:

I.CR.1: Use critical analysis to generate responses to a variety of prompts.


  • What is gender? (Legal, social, historical) 
  • Can you identify gender inequality? 
  • How would the world benefit from reducing gender inequality? 
  • How have you been affected by gender inequality? Asking students how gender has affected their own lives and the lives of their loved ones.


  1. Students will be able to recognize common issues surrounding gender inequality in the world. 
  2. Students will be able to perceive the institutional sexism built into many parts of society globally and be able to discuss some of the historical roots of gender inequality. 
  3. Students will be able to analyze and discuss how different artists have tackled the subject of gender discrimination and gender oppression.
  4. Students will be able to assess, reflect, and critique works of art history.



Note: this lesson utilizes a teacher made slide deck, available here.

Warm up drawing prompt “Gender” (10 mins): 

Begin with an opening activity that students can reflect on by posting a slide on the board that includes the prompt and images related to the prompt. For their warm-up drawings students start class with their sketchbooks or a piece of blank paper and a pencil. They are given 10 mins to fill the page with whatever comes to mind based on the prompt. Students should be reminded that these drawings do not have a “right” or “wrong” answer and will not be graded on technique drawing skills (I.e., that do not have to look good) but instead are graded for effort. 

Additional warm up prompts you could use with this lesson: feminine, mother, masculine, empowerment, icon, and persistence. These drawing prompts could also be done at transition times between lesson activities. 

Whole group instruction (10 mins):

Topic overview: Gender and gender inequality

Defining vocabulary, exploring students’ prior knowledge. Covering global impacts of gender inequality. Present neutral, fact-based information allowing students to draw their own moral conclusions, respect that gender as a social construct will be different for each student based on their own preexisting knowledge. 

*See teacher made slide deck and resources for the World Health Organization’s definition of gender and other fact-based gender information. 

Slow-looking activity (30 mins): 

Put the image of the artwork Corrugated by Simone Leigh (2019, bronze and raffia, H. 81× W. 73 × D. 40 1/2 in.) on the board or direct students to a webpage of the artwork ( Alternatively, a color print could be passed around the classroom. This artwork is included in a NCMA art card series.

Simone Leigh, Corrugated, 2019, bronze and raffia, H. 81× W. 73 × D. 40 1/2 in.

©Simone Leigh, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

Ask students to name one thing you see/think about when viewing this artwork. Answers can be a single word, a comparison to something else, or something similar. But tell them to listen to everyone’s comments before they go because no student can repeat someone else’s words or ideas. If someone uses your word or idea, you can refer to that student and then add to what they said. 


“women”, “stuck”, “Metal” 

“Why is she made of metal?”

Or, “So-in-so said metal and that made me wonder if the metal base is covering her legs, or maybe she doesn’t have legs?”

This is meant to go quickly to demonstrate a wide collection of reactions and ideas. It is not really a time for discussion so students stay focused. End by noting the interesting themes and ideas brought up by the exercise. 

Ask general questions as a transition: “Who thinks this artwork was made by a man? A woman? An American? Was it made today or 100 years ago?” 

Then bring in the context around the artwork, when it was made, who made it, what materials were used, etc. and generally ask if that changes their views. 

Independent research on Goal 5 with reporting back to class (30 mins):

Direct students to webpage to explore independently or in pairs or groups of three. They are tasked with reviewing the webpage and agreeing on one new fact they learned about gender disparagement in the world and one of the targets or indicators they think is important to track that they found on the website. (15-20 mins to look at website, 10-15 mins to report back).

Exit Ticket post-it prompt (5 mins): 

Tell me two things you learned today about gender equality?

Materials: Pencil, paper, chrome books


  • Observe students as they discuss the ideas in the slow-looking and independent research sections of the lesson with on-the-spot feedback.  
  • Evaluate students’ warm-up drawings and exit tickets for engagement. 



For students who need additional support: 

  • Pair with stronger students within the class during the research page 
  • Provide additional guidance and support during the research by offering some sentence structures for students: “One fact I did not know before was _____, A target that would track that issues/problem is ____” 

For ELL Students:

  • The United Nations SDG website is offered in six different languages. Show students how to navigate to a different language setting in the upper right-hand section of the website.

For students who need a challenge: 

  • Challenge students to consider reasons why their chosen fact is a problem, or how their chosen fact might be different within different cultures around the world. 
  • Encourage students to try to reason through which targets would be the most helpful to track and why?


  • Have students research additional topics of their choice related to gender equality and present their finding to the class.
  • Have students research additional famous female artists and their portraits of women, and present their findings to the class.

MATERIALS: Pencil, paper, Chrome book


Slide deck: Gender Equality 


Anna, K. (2023). Gender and health. World Health Organization. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from 

Brooks, M. (2021, October 13). Spotlight on Simone Leigh. North Carolina Museum of Art. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from 

Heyn, A. (2018, April 25). Slow looking and 5 other simple activities to enhance your students’ ability to analyze art. The Art of Education University. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from 

Participate Inc. (2020). Understand Goal 5: Gender Equality (Primary). Retrieved January 13, 2023, from 

UN Women Europe and Central Asia. (2018). Gender equality for sustainable development. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from 

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (n.d.). Goal 5 | Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. United Nations. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from