Gender Studies

Gender studies courses focus upon gender identity and gendered representation as central categories of analysis. Gender studies uses the concept of gender to analyze a wide range of disciplines. Although many lines of argumentation in gender studies are inspired by feminism, a broad variety of theoretical approaches are used to study the categories of gender. Gender studies includes women's studies, men's studies, and gay and lesbian studies.

The Gender Studies Major:

All gender studies majors must take Introduction to Gender Studies (GndS 100), Senior Seminar and Thesis Preparation (GndS 490), and Thesis (GndS 497 or 498). Gender studies majors must complete at least twenty-eight additional credits; at least twelve of these additional credits must be at the 300-400 level. Students will work closely with an adviser to select courses which meet the following two criteria: At least one course must be taken in each of the following four areas: theory (e.g., Pol 157, Pol 328, Phil 235), history (e.g., Hist 300, Hist 325, Clas 140), social sciences (e.g., Anth 358, Pol 357, Psyc 239, Soc 258), humanities (e.g., ArtH 329, Rel 358, RFS 240). See the list of courses offered in gender studies to determine the area into which a course falls. At least three courses at or above the 200 level must be closely related in topic or methodology. This concentration can be achieved by taking three courses from one department (e.g., history) or by taking three courses with the same focus (e.g., Latin America) from different departments. Before pre-registration for the senior year the major adviser must agree that the student has proposed an acceptable means of meeting the concentration requirement. A course in biology (e.g., Biol 120 or 125) is recommended. Students considering graduate programs are strongly advised to complete a minor in a related discipline (e.g., anthropology, history, politics, psychology, sociology).

In the final semester the student must pass a senior assessment consisting of a senior thesis and an approximately one-and-a-half-hour oral examination, which will include questions concerning the thesis and coursework taken for the major.

Student Learning Goals:

Students graduating with a major in Gender Studies will demonstrate:

  1. Knowledge of Gender Studies methods and content in the following four areas:
    1. History,
    2. Humanities,
    3. Social Sciences,
    4. Theory,
    5. Global Context;
  2. Understanding of and the ability to apply gender theory from the following perspectives:
    1. Feminist theory,
    2. Queer theory,
    3. Men and masculinity studies;
  3. Knowledge and appreciation of human diversity, and an understanding of the role of intersectionality in the gendered realities of human life;
  4. The ability to write clearly, expressively, and creatively;
  5. The ability to discuss and verbally defend academic ideas;
  6. The ability to apply Gender Studies theories to new problems;
  7. Knowledge of different approaches to a single issue within Gender Studies;
  8. Adequate preparation for graduate-level work;
  9. The ability to apply critical perspectives on gender and sexuality to situations beyond the context of Whitman College.

The Gender Studies Minor:

The minor requires a minimum of twenty credits to include Gender Studies 100 and at least four hours of coursework at the 100 or 200 levels and at least eight hours at the 300 or 400 levels. The student, in consultation with a gender studies adviser, will plan a program which will meet requirements of special interest and intellectual coherence, and will include courses in the social sciences, humanities and, when possible, the sciences.

Gender Studies Major Advisers:

  • Melissa Wilcox, Religion & Gender Studies; Gender Studies Steering Committee Director
  • Susanne Beechey, Politics
  • Andrea Dobson, Astronomy
  • Suzanne Morrissey, Anthropology
  • Zahi Zalloua, French

Gender Studies Thesis Advisers:

  • Sharon Alker (English)
  • Shampa Biswas (Politics)
  • John Cotts (History)
  • Roberta Davidson (English)
  • Andrea Dobson (Astronomy)
  • Brian Dott (History)
  • Rebecca Hanrahan (Philosophy)
  • Michelle Janning (Sociology)
  • Helen Kim (Sociology)
  • Nina Lerman (History)
  • Suzanne Morrisey (Anthropology)
  • Jason Pribilsky (Anthropology)
  • Else Semerdjian (History)
  • Lynn Sharp (History)
  • Melissa Wilcox (Religion/Gender Studies)
  • Jacqueline Woodfork (History)
  • Zahi Zalloua (French)


Note: A course cannot be used to satisfy both major and minor requirements, e.g., History 370 cannot be used to apply toward the thirty-eight credit requirement for the gender studies major and history minor or vice versa.

See the College Catalog for specific course descriptions.

Info for Gender Studies faculty