What is Women’s Studies?

Many students who get good grades, become well-traveled and grow up in progressive families can still learn so much in a women’s studies degree program. After all, half of the world’s population is female, but everything from history to religion to politics are generally based on patriarchal perspectives. Women’s studies programs are not about hating men, challenging gender and scientifically analyze stereotypes. Instead, they are about personal enlightenment and empowerment.

Women’s Studies Degree Programs

These degree programs introduce the past experiences and present achievements of women from a global perspective. This interdisciplinary academic field explores the roles that gender has played in the past and continues to play in societies. This degree contributes to a comprehensive understanding of women’s lives, issues, needs and triumphs. The knowledge earned from women’s studies classes enable graduates to analyze family, health, legal, employment and domestic violence problems that women face every day.

This degree helps students gain a greater understanding of identity issues, sexual repression, historical biases, ethical dilemmas, theological prejudice and employment unfairness. For example, students may learn how agrarian societies in third world countries consistently prevent girls from attending school through violence and suppression. Students will also learn how extremist policy makers in America continue to attack women’s rights. Some programs may either favor a socio-cultural framework or a broad liberal arts perspective to explore this fascinating major.

Typical Classes

Some colleges may require students to take basic psychology, sociology, cultural literacy or social science prerequisites before they start taking core classes. An introductory women’s studies class will critically survey the positions that women have played, are playing and will play in society. Past oppression is incorporated into present realities and future possibilities. This basic class provides a framework to connect personal experience with contemporary social, religious, political, business and interpersonal issues.

A cross-cultural studies class may examine concepts like cultural values, social norms and gender acculturation. Students will be introduced to disturbing trends around the world, such as infanticide, child brides and dowry deaths. Classes in social activism and political change explore how women have historically empowered females and improved the conditions of their lives. Students learn how different feminist theories have shaped the goals, directions and strategies of social activism efforts.

Unique Careers

A deep understanding of the needs, history, abilities and experiences of women throughout history and across culture prepares students for careers in law, ministry, journalism, health care, government, education and social service. For example, a domestic violence prevention and survivor specialist may work for a private university, community program or a state Department of Human Services. They may deal with stalking, dating violence, relationship abuse, sexual assault and sexual harassment.

These specialists will provide confidential victim advocacy services to survivors of the above mentioned crimes. They will conduct primary prevention, educational programs, training workshops and professional development seminars. They may also challenge and improve campus services, corporate policies and community cooperation. Well-qualified job candidates will have experience and commitment to public health, social justice, change models and multidisciplinary coalitions.

Related Resource: 20 Best Deals on Colleges for Women’s Studies

When a women’s studies degree is combined with other majors, such as psychology, social services, behavioral health and criminal justice, it opens up endless career opportunities. Potential career titles with a degree in women’s studies include research analyst, admissions counselor, family involvement specialist and community program coordinator.