The Equal Rights Amendment

An Ongoing Cause

The first official meeting of women to discuss the issue of gender equality was at Seneca Falls in 1848. Over 170 years later, women have sought gender equality through various waves in American history. The Progressive Era saw the passage of the 19th Amendment and the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s saw major advances for women in such areas like Title IX. The ERA, to many Americans, would be the necessary step in making a legal statement about gender equality and gender protection in the Constitution. That dream fell short after the anti-ERA movement fought against its passage. The #MeToo movement in recent years has reignited the feminist movement and brought the ERA back to Capitol Hill.


One class period

  • Students will learn about the battle over the ERA by reading primary sources from one of the great advocates of the amendment, Gloria Steinem, and one of the great opponents of the amendment, Phyllis Schlafly. 
  • Consider the following questions:
    • What challenges has the Equal Rights Amendment faced over time? 
    • Why is the ERA necessary in America?

Before class, as a homework assignment, students should read the following:

Why We Need the Equal Rights Amendment:  


Do Now: 12 minutes

  • Begin class with the question: Why do we need an Equal Rights Amendment in America?
  • Students can view the 5-minute video to begin class:
  • In a think-pair-share, students can discuss the video and the reading from the previous night’s homework. This can segue into a brief class discussion about the proposed question.


Activity: Structured Academic Controversy 25-minutes

  • Students must be paired up. Their desks should be facing each other to promote a setting that will allow for a back-and-forth dialogue.
  • Each student will receive the Structured Academic Controversy handout.
  • Teachers can assign one partner reading #1 and the other partner reading #2.
  • The handout will take students through the activity. It should take approximately 25 minutes.



  • After the Structured Academic Controversy is completed students will join a class discussion.
    • What challenges has the Equal Rights Amendment faced over time? 
    • Why is the ERA necessary in America?
  • Complete class by viewing Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s statement on the ERA:
Assessment / Homework
  • Read the following article from the BBC:
  • Women’s ERA sees first hearing in 36 Years
  • Online blog: Write a response to the following question:
    • Why has the ERA resurfaced and what role do you think it will play in the 2020 election?
  • D2.Civ.4.9-12. Explain how the U.S. constitution establishes a system of government that has powers, responsibilities, and limits that have changed over time and that are still contested.
  • D2.Civ.14.9-12. Analyze historical, contemporary, and emerging means of changing societies, promoting the common good, and protecting rights.
  • D2.His.4.9-12. Analyze complex and interacting factors that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras.
  • D2.His.5.9-12. Analyze how historical contexts shaped and continue to shape people’s perspectives.
  • D2.His.6.9-12. Analyze the ways in which the perspectives of those writing history shaped the history that they produced.
  • D2.His.12.9-12. Use questions generate about multiple historical sources to pursue further inquiry and investigate additional sources.

Common Core:

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.

Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.

Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task.