Distorted media images... Income inequality... Bigotry against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people... Insurance coverage for Viagra but not birth control pills... Rape and domestic violence... Science and engineering fields that remain virtually all male... Why, in the 21st century, does so much harm and injustice persist? Western Michigan University's gender and women’s studies looks to the past for insights as we examine the present and envision a future that is more equitable and just. Our program offers analysis and action in the service of social transformation.
Gender and women’s studies is an interdisciplinary field that adds value to an undergraduate degree. It expands students’ knowledge of how cultures construct, express and maintain gender. According to our majors, pursuing this degree reveals questions and possibilities not previously considered. Although gender and women’s studies is an academic pursuit, it grows out of a movement committed to social justice.
Classes offer diverse perspectives about our multifaceted identities, including gender, sexuality, class, race, ethnicity, nationality and more. Students find our discussion-based classes deeply engaging and personally relevant. You learn about yourself and the world simultaneously.
We all begin our education about gender outside the classroom. The family, childcare, education, the workplace, the marketplace, the health care system, politics, entertainment and places of worship—these are all sites where gender is in evidence. With insights that come from taking gender and women’s studies courses, students say that they view the world through a new lens. Billboards, magazines, parenting advice, political debates, consumer goods and militarization don’t look the same. Conversations from our classes are continued over coffee in the student center or over dinner with family and friends.
Some gender and women’s studies students join campus organizations and take leadership in groups such as the Gender and Women’s Studies Honor Society, Students for Sexual Awareness, Womyn’s Equality or OutSpoken. Others pursue an internship on campus, in the greater Kalamazoo area or in their hometown. While working at the YWCA, Planned Parenthood or the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center, for example, students learn from mentors and contribute to causes they value.
Choosing a degree in gender and women’s studies prepares you to make a difference in the world. Jobs that involve community organizing, education and social services are a great fit for gender and women’s studies graduates.
Recent WMU graduates with degrees in gender and women's studies are serving many communities, including:
- Survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence
- Low-income mothers
- LGBT community
They are working as:
- Artists and writers
- Case workers
- Community organizers
- Event planners
- Policy analysts
- Social workers
- Victim/survivor advocates
- Volunteer coordinators
Among the organizations they work for are:
- Consulting firms
- Domestic abuse shelters
- Government agencies
- Health care organizations
- Nonprofits and NGOs
- Political campaigns
- Private corporations
- Public and private corporations
- Schools and universities
WMU's gender and women's studies program offers excellent preparation for pursuing a professional or graduate degree in such areas as social work, counseling or law. The number of masters and Ph.D. programs in women’s and gender studies is growing, and they open up additional opportunities in areas such as higher education and public policy.