My women’s studies background opened my eyes to many of the issues and challenges that people face in getting a level playing field in the working world. It gave me a confidence that I don’t believe I would have had without the knowledge and experience gained in my studies. It has helped make me a more effective manager and mentor. It has also given me a critical eye in examining why we do things the way we do. In addition, it has given me a “name” for the inequities that occur in the workplace. It may not change that sexism, racism, and bias occur or that men are still paid more then women in so many areas. However, my women’s studies background has given me a keen awareness of these hurdles and tools for the challenge.
—Heidi Mucha Class of 1995
Director, Annual Giving and Special Events,
American Red Cross of Greater Chicago
Women’s Studies is the interdisciplinary study of the systems of gender, politics, and representation that shape the lives of women and men. Women’s Studies asks: How does being a woman affect one’s participation in the family, economy, politics, art, and literature? How do language, belief and visual representation convey meaning about women’s and men’s status in society? How has that status changed historically? How does the experience of women vary by class, race, nationality, and sexual orientation? Questions like these motivate interdiciplinary scholarship that puts gender at the center of analysis.
Women’s Studies faculty work in a wide range of disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Our faculty have connections to many programs, departments, and schools, including American Culture, Anthropology, Art and Design, Comparative Literature, English, History, History of Art, Law, Linguistics, Medicine, Music, Nursing, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Romance Languages and Literature, Social Work, and Sociology.
The interdisciplinary nature of Women’s Studies requires students to develop a wide range of skills, including critical thinking, research, writing, argumentation, organizing, and group facilitation. Many Women’s Studies concentrators choose double-majors, studying such fields as Biology, Political Science, Psychology, English, History, Sociology, Anthropology, Asian Studies, French, Spanish, Drama, History of Art, Communications, Nursing, and Organizational Studies. See examples of where Women’s Studies graduates work after graduation.
Graduates of the four joint PhD programs are in faculty positions as close as Michigan State University in Lansing and Wayne State University in Detroit, and as far away as the University of Kwa Zulu-Natal in South Africa. Others are at Yale University, Minnesota State University, and Smith College. While most have positions in their disciplinary departments, our graduates are also in Women’s Studies departments.
Not everyone goes on to faculty positions. We are represented at the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Veteran’s Administration, and the Virginia Treatment Center in Richmond, VA.
You can see a listing of initial (and in some cases current) jobs on the Graduate Student Placement page of this website.