Why Not Women’s Studies?

By: Kathrine Popielarz

As another wave of feminism appears to be sweeping the nation, especially in an election year with a prominent female candidate running for president, it seems appropriate to examine the emerging field of gender and women’s studies. According to the National Women’s Studies Association, Women’s Studies examines how sexuality, race, class, gender, age, ability, and structures of inequality are mutually constituted. It also looks at cultures, structures, and relationships that are formed as a result of the flow of people and resources across geopolitical borders.

There are a number of minor programs offered across U.S. colleges, including here in the Chicagoland area. Universities such as UIC, Bradley, and Concordia University all offer minors in Gender and Women’s Studies. However, the history of feminism and women’s oppression is certainly extensive enough to provide coursework beyond a minor. With this in mind here is a list of Chicagoland schools that offer Bachelor’s degrees (and more) in Gender and Women’s Studies:

DePaul University
Program: Women’s and Gender Studies
Website: http://las.depaul.edu/academics/womens-and-gender-studies/Pages/default.aspx

The program at DePaul emphasizes the “interconnectedness of systems and structures of gender, race, class, sexuality, age, ability, culture, religion and nation within broader historical, social, global, and transnational contexts.” They offer a number of incarnations of Women’s and gender studies from a four course certificate program to a master’s degree.

Loyola University
Program: Women’s Studies and Gender Studies

Loyola offers a minor, Bachelor’s, and master’s in Women’s Studies and Gender Studies. They also encourage students to include women’s studies as a second major or as a minor due to the fact that it is interdisciplinary and connects to many different majors.

Northwestern University
Program: Gender & Sexuality Studies Program
Website: http://www.gendersexuality.northwestern.edu/undergraduate/degree-requirements/major.html

This program  “offers students a comprehensive understanding of the intersections between gender studies and sexuality studies…[and] their relation to historical and contemporary feminist and LGBT activism.” The program at Northwestern has a larger sexuality component to it than the other programs listed here, but it still provides an examination of gender across disciplines. Northwestern offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in this field.

Although Women’s Histoty Month has come and gone and Hilary Clinton may not be your candidate for this year’s election, there is certainly no reason to stop celebrating women’s accomplishments or continuing to make strides in female empowerment. If you don’t become a women’s studies major, then there are still plenty of ways to get educated about feminism and women’s rights. However, there are plenty of reasons to study the discipline, and as women progress today it is never a bad idea to see where they came from  and how far they traveled.






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