About Women's Studies

What is Women's Studies?

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Women's Studies is an academic discipline that critically evaluates gender from an interdisciplinary perspective and challenges many traditional assumptions and theories about women that have excluded them from positions of power. It examines the practice and expression of gender in different societies and at different historical moments; it explores the various origins and articulations of gender differentiation; it traces the influence of gender expectations on individuals, and it studies the interactions of gender and other differences in social, political, and cultural contexts.

The Beginning of Women's Studies

Women's Studies has its origins in the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and emerged as an academic field in the early 1970s. Students and scholars in many disciplines began to ask questions about the role of women writers, musicians, artists, and so on, and about the social, economic, political, and intellectual structures that had shaped women's lives. In short order, they began demanding that their various academic disciplines be more inclusive of women's issues, and that more women be included in leadership positions on college campuses. The interdisciplinary nature of Women's Studies continues, and now there is no field, including the sciences and technical fields, which lacks research on women or the influence of gender.

Benefits of Taking Women's Studies Classes

Women's Studies cultivates critical thinking, fosters the development of strong verbal, writing and research skills, and promotes social and political engagement and activism.

The interdisciplinarity of Women's Studies provides a strong foundation for graduate study in many fields within the social sciences, humanities, and professions. Women's Studies also prepares students for careers in non-profit organizations, business, the creative arts, education, government and public policy, journalism, law, medicine, publishing, science, the social sciences, and social work. For example, health professionals of all types, including physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, focus on issues of concern solely to women or more likely to be faced by women. Manufacturers, retailers, advertising agencies and marketing firms analyze the purchasing patterns and preferences of female consumers, in their efforts to design and sell products that will sell more widely. Lawyers and their staffs often specialize in family law, gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or other issues of special concern to women.

Students who pursue Women's Studies face a future of diverse possibilities!