History and Mission

Program History

The gender studies program began 1991 as the women and gender studies program (W.G.S.). Over the past two decades, the program has flourished, involving faculty across the university and from many different academic areas. The program offers an average of six courses each semester and has about 15 minors enrolled each year. The program also sponsors a vibrant series of co-curricular events that intersect with academic topics, from visiting lecturers to student research presentations.

In 2011, the W.G.S. program changed its name to gender studies to reflect the inclusive focus and the direction of the national field in gender studies. Studying femininity and masculinity both remain central to the program's mission.


  • To challenge traditional assumptions about sex, gender, and sexuality;
  • To provide a context for students to formulate their own values and philosophy based on both knowledge and personal experience;
  • To analyze sex/gender systems operating through race, class, age, and sexual orientation, including how these systems shape women's and men's lives and consciousness;
  • To analyze how male-female differences get translated into gender stratification and to examine the consequences of this stratification for individuals and society;
  • To develop critical thinking skills;
  • To refine written and oral communication;
  • To provide desirable preparation for students going into business or professional fields in which they will be dealing with gender issues and/or problems;
  • To heighten awareness of gender issues and improve gender relations.