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 queer studies.

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.

Gender Studies Major Advisers

  • Susanne Beechey, Politics; Gender Studies Steering Committee Director
  • Kristen Kosmas, Theatre (Sabbatical, Spring 2017)
  • Lydia McDermott, General Studies; Director of the Center for Writing and Speaking
  • Suzanne Morrissey, Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Jason Pribilsky, Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies; Chair, Division I
  • Zahi Zalloua, French and Interdisciplinary 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 to fulfill major requirements. At least one course must be taken in each of the following five areas: gender studies in global context, history, humanities, social sciences, and theory. See the course catalog for a list of courses and the areas they fulfill. 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.

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.


See the College Catalog for specific course descriptions.