The Department of Gender and Women's Studies is a dynamic and thriving campus presence at Western Michigan University with a distinctive commitment to student-centered learning. We are proud to offer an undergraduate major and minor.

  • We offer some of the most popular courses at WMU, serving approximately 1,000 students each year.

The field of women’s studies is nearly 50 years old. A product of the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, women's studies emerged at a time when English classes might only read novels by men, history classes taught that women didn't do anything historically important, and the psychological profession taught that homosexuality was a sign of mental illness. Inspired by the women's movement and struggles of marginalized groups, students and faculty invented a new area of study. WMU offered its first courses in the early 1970s and created a minor in women's studies in 1975. Over the years, a major was added, the program expanded and faculty across campus sought joint appointments.

Women’s studies became gender and women’s studies in the early 2000s, reflecting the field’s broadening focus on all genders. The program soon afterward acquired faculty with full appointments in gender and women's studies and became designated as an academic department. Today our department is a vibrant unit with a deep commitment to the university's mission to be learner centered, discovery driven and globally engaged. We have adopted the slogan “Don’t believe everything you think” as it reminds us of the importance of questioning social norms to expand social justice.