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Women's and Gender Studies

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Overview

The Women’s and Gender Studies Program is a cross-disciplinary program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The program offers students opportunities to analyze issues concerning women, gender, and sexuality in diverse cultural contexts and to investigate a variety of disciplines from feminist perspectives. The field of women's and gender studies creates an understanding that interrelated factors--e.g., race, ethnicity, class, age, disability, gender identity, religion, national origin, and sexual orientation--inform knowledge of women’s history, culture, and social roles.

Women’s and Gender Studies seeks to improve critical thinking and to provide students with the intellectual means to question prevailing assumptions. It encourages students to explore the contexts and ideological origins of knowledge and to examine the relationship between knowledge and power in society. By promoting social justice and inclusion, this area of study focuses on the connections between personal experience and political activity, and validates student contributions and voices.

Graduates from this program are skilled in critical thinking, research methods, and effective communication. Because they have developed a thorough understanding of gender, race, and class, graduates work effectively with employers, colleagues, and clients to analyze and solve complex social problems. Women's and Gender Studies students also acquire strong backgrounds for careers in areas such as counseling, education, human resources, international development, public policy, politics, business, and law. The program includes core and cross-listed courses in anthropology, history, economics, English, history, health and human performance, political science, psychology, religion, sociology, speech communication, and world languages and cultures.

Student Learning Outcomes

Through student-driven discussions, based on engagement with critical and cultural texts by feminist scholars and activists, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program curriculum will help students develop the necessary skills to:

  • Increase awareness of women’s history and experiences that affect representations of gender in contemporary society
  • Explore forms of social inequality through feminist theories and concepts
  • Understand how intersecting identities shape individuals and their life experiences
  • Analyze gender dynamics in different types of relationships

Degree Requirements

Women's and Gender Studies (B.A., B.S.)

An undergraduate major requires a minimum 2.00 GPA in the 34 credits of core and cross-listed courses. Women’s and Gender Studies' majors must satisfy the following requirements:

1. 16 credits selected from Women’s and Gender Studies core courses (WGS).

A. Required core courses:

WGS 160Gender Justice1
WGS 201Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies3
WGS 301International Perspectives on Women and Gender3
WGS 401Feminist Theories3
WGS 402Feminist Research in Action3
WGS 491Internship3
or WGS 499 Senior Thesis
Total Credits16

B. The remaining 18 credits of required coursework can be chosen from one of the following Areas of Emphasis: 1) Communication and Cultural Representation; 2) Identities and Sexualities; 3) Leadership and Social Justice; or students can work with their advisor to identify the set of courses that support their personal and professional goals.  

1) Communication and Cultural Representation

Courses in this field offer diverse perspectives on how media and communication represent and shape culture in the US and around the world. Students engage with feminist literature, philosophy, art, and other expressions of culture in society. These themes are used to examine how the lives and roles of women have changed throughout history.

WGS 210Gender and Sexuality in American Pop Culture3
WGS 308Write Like a Woman3
WGS 323Gender and Communication3
WGS 325Portrayals of Gender and Sexualities in the Media3
WGS 327Gender and Sexualities in Society3
WGS 338Feminist Philosophy3
WGS 345Women and Literature: Selected Topics3
ENGL 349Topics in Multicultural Literatures of the United States3
WGS 352Queer Literature3
WGS 370Studies in English Translation3
WGS 374Sex, Gender, and Culture in the Ancient Mediterranean World3
WGS 422Women, Men, and the English Language3
WGS 430Gender and Consumer Culture3
WGS 450Topics in Women's and Gender Studies3
WGS 460Seminar in Gender and Ethnicity3
WGS 490Independent Study1-3
WGS 494Women/Gender in Art3
WGS 545Women's Literature3
WGS 594Women/Gender in Art3


2) Identities and Sexualities

This area highlights the growing emphasis in Women’s and Gender Studies on how experiences and societal narratives shape and are impacted by gender identities and sexualities. Courses explore power relations, oppression, privilege, and resistance as ways of understanding these social identities. Students will learn about how issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, and other axes of difference intersect and enable political resistance.

WGS 203Introduction to Lesbian Communities3
WGS 205Introduction to Queer Studies3
WGS 210Gender and Sexuality in American Pop Culture3
WGS 308Write Like a Woman3
WGS 325Portrayals of Gender and Sexualities in the Media3
WGS 327Gender and Sexualities in Society3
WGS 328Sociology of Masculinities and Manhood3
WGS 336Religion, Sex and Gender3
WGS 339Goddess Religions3
WGS 344Human Reproduction3
WGS 346Psychology of Women3
ENGL 349Topics in Multicultural Literatures of the United States3
WGS 350Women of Color in the U.S3
WGS 352Queer Literature3
WGS 374Sex, Gender, and Culture in the Ancient Mediterranean World3
WGS 380History of Women in Science, Technology, and Medicine3
WGS 386History of Women in America3
WGS 410Human Trafficking3
WGS 425Intersections of Race, Class and Gender3
WGS 430Gender and Consumer Culture3
WGS 440Gender Issues in Sports3
WGS 450Topics in Women's and Gender Studies3
WGS 457History of American Sexualities3
WGS 490Independent Study1-3
WGS 494Women/Gender in Art3
WGS 525Intersections of Race, Class and Gender3
WGS 586Readings Seminar in Women's and Gender History3


3) Leadership and Social Justice

Courses in this area of specialization provide students with the tools and theories needed to become successful change agents, activists, and community organizers. These courses explore how social movements can transform communities, cultural norms, and global systems. Students will engage with critiques and the context of movements such as transnational feminism, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQIA+ Pride, and #MeToo.

WGS 210Gender and Sexuality in American Pop Culture3
WGS 307Women in Science and Engineering3
WGS 320Ecofeminism3
WGS 321Economics of Discrimination3
WGS 333Women, Gender, and Leadership3
WGS 344Human Reproduction3
WGS 350Women of Color in the U.S3
WGS 380History of Women in Science, Technology, and Medicine3
WGS 385Women in Politics3
WGS 386History of Women in America3
WGS 387First Ladies in U.S. History3
WGS 410Human Trafficking3
WGS 425Intersections of Race, Class and Gender3
WGS 435Gender, Globalization and Development3
WGS 440Gender Issues in Sports3
WGS 450Topics in Women's and Gender Studies3
WGS 488Research on Gender and Leadership3
WGS 490Independent Study1-3
WGS 586Readings Seminar in Women's and Gender History3


A minor or additional major is recommended. The typical degree awarded is a Bachelor of Arts; students interested in a Bachelor of Science degree in Women's and Gender Studies need to complete 12 credits in addition to the general education requirements across the areas of natural science, mathematics, and social science.

Communication Proficiency requirement:

The Women’s and Gender Studies major requires credit for ENGL 150; ENGL 250 (or ENGL 250H) (with a grade of C or better, per the university-wide Communication Proficiency Grade Requirement); and WGS 301 or WGS 401 or WGS 402 (with a grade of C or better).

Students in all ISU majors must complete a three-credit course in U.S. diversity and a three-credit course in international perspectives. Check (http://www.registrar.iastate.edu/courses/div-ip-guide.html) for a list of approved courses. Discuss with your advisor how the two courses that you select can be applied to your graduation plan.

LAS majors require a minimum of 120 credits, including a minimum of 45 credits at the 300/400 level. You must also complete the LAS General Education requirements as well as the world language and career proficiency requirements.

As majors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Women's and Gender Studies students must meet College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and University-wide requirements for graduation in addition to those stated above for the major.

Four Year Plan

Women’s and Gender Studies, B.A., B.S. (1)

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
ENGL 1503WGS 2013
LIB 1601Math Choice3
World Language/Elective13-4World Language/Elective3-4
Humanities Choice3Humanities Choice3
Natural Science Choice3Social Science Choice3
Social Science Choice3 
 16-17 15-16
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
U.S. Diversity Choice3Women's and Gender Studies Choices - 200/300 Level6
WGS 3013Int'l Perspectives Choice3
WGS 1601Humanities Choice3
Humanities Choice3Social Science Choice3
ENGL 2503LAS 2031
Natural Science Choice3 
 16 16
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
Women's and Gender Studies Choice - 300/400 Level3Electives - 300/400 Level9
Electives7WGS 4023
Natural Science Choice2Women's and Gender Studies Choice - 300/400 Level3
WGS 4013 
 15 15
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
Women's and Gender Studies Choice - 300/400 Level6Electives5
Elective - 300/400 Level6Electives - 300/400 Level6
WGS 491 or 4991-3Women's and Gender Studies Choice - 300/400 Level3
 13-15 14
Total Credits: 120-124

Minor

Undergraduate students may minor in Women’s and Gender Studies by taking 15 semester hours of Women’s and Gender Studies classes, including the following:

WGS 201Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies3
WGS 301International Perspectives on Women and Gender3
One 400-level WGS course and 6 additional credits in WGS; at least 3 of the additional credits must be at the 300-400 level. 9

University policy requires that at least 9 credits used for the minor stand alone and are not used to meet any other requirement. All WGS courses for the minor require a grade of C (not C-) or higher.

Any student can declare a major or minor in Women’s and Gender Studies or choose to co-major in another program. Students interested in a minor or major in Women’s and Gender Studies should contact the director or the undergraduate advisor in the program.

Graduate Study

The graduate minor in Women’s and Gender Studies is designed to provide students with knowledge of theories and methods within a variety of approaches in feminist scholarship. The program seeks to integrate and synthesize knowledge from many disciplines and to offer students opportunities for systematic study of gender and women’s experiences and perspectives in all knowledge fields. Students will be prepared to take a leadership role in supporting gender equity and diversity in their careers in education, social service work, business, law, public policy, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and research.

The graduate minor requires 12 credits for students enrolled in a master’s or a doctoral degree program. Students are required to take either WGS 501 Contemporary Feminist Theories or WGS 502 Advanced Seminar in Feminist Research Methods; taking both is strongly recommended. Students will also take two or three electives selected from the list of core and cross-listed Women’s and Gender Studies courses approved for graduate study. At least one member of the Women’s and Gender Studies faculty will serve on the program of study for doctoral students. A list of eligible faculty members may be obtained from the Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.