Women's studies students examine the oppression of women throughout history,
but also the ways in which women have taken power over their lives. They study
the history, sociology and politics of women in society.
Students are involved in research in many areas, including anti-racism
and racialization, media studies, family violence and the law, women's collective
action in the 21st century, oral history, women's literature and feminist
"Our courses emphasize the development of good communication skills,
in addition to learning about women's studies and feminist thought and theory,"
says Helen Rezanowich. She is a program assistant in a women's studies department.
"To this end, classes are usually structured as part lecture, part whole
group discussion and part smaller group discussion, with student presentations
and written papers as part of the coursework."
Many community colleges also offer two-year programs in women's studies,
Rezanowich says. "The number of courses completed and the complexity of the
courses is lower if a student has a college diploma instead of a four-year
university degree. However, there are many excellent courses offered at colleges
at the first- and second-year level."
You can also get a certificate in women's studies. These are awarded along
with a major or a minor in another program. For example, if you're majoring
in political science and focusing on women in politics, you could add a women's
studies certificate to your degree program.
Many women's studies programs draw from a variety of departments,
from history to economics. For example, the program at the College of New
Jersey in Ewing offers 40 courses in 13 departments.
"Some courses focus specifically on the roles of women, their contributions
and experiences," says Ellen Friedman, professor of English and director of
the school's women's and gender studies program.
"Other women's and gender studies courses study the impact of women and
gender on various cultures at various times, and enable students to understand
and evaluate changing social patterns and the effects of institutions and
Specific courses in Friedman's program include women and health, literary
perspectives on men and masculinity, and feminist theory. Courses are
also required in theory and research methods.
Rezanowich emphasizes that women's studies is not for women only.
"While most of our students are women, men are welcome in our courses, and
several have completed BAs in women's studies."
Susanne Dietzel teaches women's studies at at Loyola University New Orleans.
She suggests that high school students take classes in which they learn
to think and read critically and participate in volunteer work with social
service agencies that serve women.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Social
Comprehensive Women's Websites
A list of related links
National Women's History Project
Its mission is to recognize and celebrate the diverse and historic
accomplishments of women