Women’s and Gender Studies

A Concentration in Women’s Studies

As an interdisciplinary program of study, women’s and gender studies introduces students to the scholarship, literature and creative works on and by women that are transforming the liberal arts and the professions. A concentration in women’s studies allows a student to explore the histories and situations of women in different cultural and social contexts. Women’s and gender studies addresses the myriad ways in which gender difference structures our social relations, cultural values, institutions, academic disciplines, and the production of knowledge.

Women’s and gender studies courses introduce students to ideologies and political theories that have been used over time to explain the natures of women and men and their functions and roles in society. Women’s and gender studies courses prepare students to utilize traditional and feminist perspectives to analyze gender, sex, and sexuality as biological, psychological, social and cultural phenomena. A women’s and gender studies concentration is useful preparation for training in the professions and for postgraduate work in a variety of fields. On a personal level, it enhances the human potential of both women and men by questioning and redefining societal values.

Courses cross-listed as women’s studies courses provide students with discipline-specific attention to these issues, whereas a cognate, IDS concentration, or minor in women’s and gender studies provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary exploration of these topics.

Courses leading to an interdisciplinary concentration or minor in women’s and gender studies:

  • Familiarize students with an interdisciplinary theoretical framework in which gender is the central category of analysis
  • Encourage writing, speaking, and thinking critically about issues of gender in the contemporary world
  • Study the position and concerns of women throughout history, across the world, and from different economic, ethnic, and racial groups
  • Examine cultural assumptions about gender, race, class, ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation in light of information made available by new theories and research
  • Challenge students to think critically about the ways in which gender interrelates with structures of power
  • Explore the links between discrimination against women and other forms of oppression
  • Foster an understanding of the limitations placed on individuals and on society by narrowly defined sex roles
  • Apply classroom learning to personal, academic, community, and vocational settings.

“Feminism is the political theory and practice that struggles to free all women: women of Color, working-class women, poor women, disabled women, lesbians, old women–as well as white, economically privileged, heterosexual women. Anything less than this vision of total freedom is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement.” – Barbara Smith, ‘Racism and Women’s Studies’

Additional Resources

Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (CWGS)