About the Department

Our Program

Women and Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary program which combines the substance and methodologies of many disciplines—such as history, sociology, anthropology, communications, psychology, literature, law, and more. Because the Women and Gender Studies Program encompasses these varied disciplines, our faculty is comprised of instructors from all four colleges and the library, though the Program is technically located in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Most of our courses are interdisciplinary and cross-listed with other academic programs.

Studying Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

Women and Gender Studies courses and faculty are diverse, but united in their study of some aspect of sex, gender, and sexuality. By ‘sex’ we mean aspects of the body that allow us to be categorized as female or male; ‘gender’ is the meaning given to these sex differences—the stereotypes, assumptions, and expectations society attaches to difference. ‘Sexuality’ refers to sexual behaviors, identities, desires, discourses, and representations–in their social, cultural, and historically specific contexts. We know, however, that each of these alone cannot explain all of human experience, so we study other factors such as race, class, ethnicity, nationality, physical ability, culture, and power as they combine with what anthropologist Gayle Rubin termed “the sex/gender system.”

Our Goals & Methods

Our perspectives are increasingly global. Our goal is to introduce students to the basic approaches to the study of women and gender in a variety of fields so that they will be prepared for the challenges of citizenship in the 21st century.

In the classroom, WGS faculty are committed to creating positive and participatory learning environments. We emphasize student-centered and cooperative learning, critical thinking, openness to ideas and discussion, and respect for others. We encourage students to make connections between thought and action, theory and practice, and the academy and the community, and we provide interested students with opportunities for internships, applied study terms, community-based projects, and research.