Gender and Women’s Studies

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Offers an opportunity to understand various academic disciplines through the material, social, and cultural experiences of women and through the concept and context of gender as it applies to the sexes and frames the way we make sense of the world. The program provides a focus for students interested in gender and women’s studies within the framework of the traditional skills and content of a liberal arts education.

This interdisciplinary option traces the experiences of women across time and culture, helping students understand how gender works to shape the lives of individuals as well as the characters of whole societies. You’ll take an Introduction to Women’s Studies course that acquaints you with fundamental concepts in the field, then select electives from the Humanities and Behavioral and Social Sciences that focus on various constructions of gender as well as on women¹s roles in contexts like the family, the community, the workplace, the nation, and the environment. A course on either Queer Literature or Women in Literature will also let you see how gender is portrayed in literature. Course electives in social sciences, such as Psychology of Women, Sociology of Gender, Sociology of Human Sexuality or Gender and the Environment will let you see how the social relationships impact men and women.

Curriculum documents

This is just one way you might complete the Gender and Women’s Studies program in 4 semesters over 2 years of full-time study, or 8 semesters over 4 years of part-time study. (Sample course sequences assume that all pre-requisites have been satisfied and the student is prepared for college-level work.) For a detailed list of required courses, optional electives and program information, download the Gender and Women’s Studies program description from our official academic catalog.

Course descriptions are also available in the catalog. Find courses

Sample 2 Year Sequence of Courses
Fall 1Spring 1Fall 2Spring 2
ENG Comp. I
MAT course
Behavioral Science course
HIS course
General elective
ENG Comp. II
PCS course
GWS 115
Behavioral Science course
Science course
ENG 228, 247, or 248
Behavioral Science 200 level course
Science course
GWS elective
GWS elective
Humanities elective
GWS elective
GWS diversity elective
General elective
General elective
Sample 4 Year Sequence of Courses
Fall 1Spring 1Fall 2Spring 2
ENG Comp. I
MAT course
ENG Comp. II
Behavioral Science course
HIS course
Behavioral Science course
PCS course
GWS 115
Fall 3Spring 3Fall 4Spring 4
Science course
Behavioral Science 200 level course 200 Level
ENG 228, 247, or 248
Humanities elective
GWS elective
General elective
GWS elective
General elective
Science course
General elective
GWS elective
GWS elective

What’s next

Transfer to a Baccalaureate program in any liberal arts discipline, women’s studies, gender studies, queer studies, interdisciplinary studies, or related fields.

Consider this program if

  • You want a broad as well as deep understanding of how gender impacts society.
  • You want to work on human rights or women’s issues in varied areas.
  • You want to pursue higher academic study in gender studies, women’s studies, queer studies, or cultural studies.

By taking classes in a Liberal Arts option, students complete courses that help develop 100 and 200 course level knowledge and skills in a particular field. If you don’t satisfy the requirements of a specific Liberal Arts option, you may still be able to fulfill the requirements of another option, or fulfill the requirements of the Liberal Arts General degree. Students are advised to work closely with their GCC advisor to select the specific courses that will help meet their career or transfer goals. Note: Students who complete a Liberal Arts option will graduate with the degree “Associate in Arts in Liberal Arts.” Your area of concentration is reflected only in your transcript, not your diploma.

Required core class

GWS 115 Introduction to Gender and Women’s Studies – 3 credits

Introduction to gender and women’s studies as a basis for understanding human development, social systems, and the historical and biological perspectives that affect people’s lives in the contemporary world.

(Offered: Every Spring & Summer)Prereq: ENG 090 and ENG 094 (COL 090), or satisfactory placement test scores.

GWS 115 is a required course in the Gender & Women’s Studies Program concentration. It is primarily a discussion class with an emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach to examining women’s lives. Videos, readings, guest lecturers, discussion prompts, some online activities, short lectures  small group work and exercises are used to facilitate class discussion. Some online discussions may be required in the face to face class.  The course is generally offered online in a Summer session. The course is intended to raise a series of questions and introduce students to gender and women’s studies. By taking women’s experience and interests as central, what can we learn about the cultural consequences of the gender division and organization of social life? Possible readings include essays, poetry, short stories, critiques of theories, historical analysis, and research studies about gendered lives. Readings are taken from varied sources, including an anthology such as Women’s Lives: Multicultural Perspectives. Generally another book and handout readings are also assigned.

Optional electives

The following courses are optional electives in the Gender & Women’s Studies concentration. Not all courses are offered every term; consult our online class schedule for availability.

ENG 247 Women in Literature I – 3 credits

A study of works by women writers through the 19th century. Students discuss literature in various genres within the historical and social context of the times, in relation to early literary movements and from the perspective of a unique female literary tradition.

(Offered: Every Other Summer)Prereq: ENG 112, 114, or 116

ENG 248 Women in Literature II – 3 credits

A study of poetry, short fiction, novels, and drama that presents the richness of diversity in the work of women writers from the 20th century to the present. Students focus on the voice of the writer and her use of literary technique as she explores important themes in women’s lives.

(Offered: Every Other Spring)Prereq: ENG 112, 114, or 116

HIS 131 Women in American History – 3 credits

A survey of women’s roles in American history emphasizing the social history of unknown as well as famous women of diverse ethnic and class backgrounds who helped shape life and culture in America from the Colonial period through the Revolutionary era, the Frontier movement, 19th Century political activism and urbanization, and the 20th century through reform movements and the global community.

(Offered: Every Fall, Every Spring)Prereq: ENG 090 and ENG 094 (COL 090), or satisfactory placement test scores

PSY 225 Psychology of Women – 3 credits

An exploration into the behavior and personality of women as seen through their own eyes. Topics for investigation are dispelling the myths and mysteries about the development of women, significant gender differences, the quest for a separate identity, transitional changes and adaptation, and the possibilities for a more generative view of the human life cycle.

(Offered: Every Fall)Prereq: PSY 101 or SOC 101 or ANT 104 or permission of instructor

SOC 206 Sociology of Human Sexuality: Behaviors, Experiences, and Identities – 3 credits

A sociological perspective on human sexuality. The course provides an overview of historical and contemporary perspectives on sexuality. The course focuses on the construction of meaning of sexual behavior and experience, sexual orientation, and identity. Students study the impact of culture, religion, race, gender, and other social identities on sexuality. Students examine the inextricable nature of the meaning of sexuality and the socio-political milieu. The course investigates the significance of social policies on sexuality. Students learn about the relationship between the seemingly individual experience of sex and the larger social structures of society.

(Offered: Periodically)Prereq: SOC 101 or SOC 106

SOC 208 Sociology of Gender – 3 credits

A focus on sociological dimensions of gender. This course examines the ways in which society and its institutions create, maintain and reproduce gender. Students investigate how gender categories are constructed and represented, and examine the consequences of these categories for the lives of individuals. Students learn about the significance of gender differences in the experiences of women, men, and transgender people on the micro and macro levels. The course investigates structural inequalities and the reproduction of those hierarchies in social processes and in everyday life, especially within the matrix of race, class, and gender. Contemporary research on gender is incorporated into the course.

(Offered: Periodically)Prereq: SOC 101 or SOC 106

EVS 121 Gender and the Environment – 3 credits

Examination of historical and present day roles of women and men in relation to their environment. The course surveys how gender roles have affected survival in hunter gatherer and agrarian societies, earth-centered practices in religion and medicine, and the growth and influence of industrialism and nationalism. The course focuses on understanding gender-linked relationships between population, poverty, and environmental degradation and the importance of new cooperative models for converting to an ecologically sustainable society utilizing case studies and role models. NOTE: Students may receive credit for HEC 121 or EVS 121, but not for both.

(Offered: Periodically)Prereq: ENG 090 and ENG 094 (COL 090), or satisfactory placement test scores

barnes

Wendy Barnes

English Faculty

B.A., Sarah Lawrence College
M.F.A., Mills College

N320 (413) 775-1283 barnesw@gcc.mass.edu

Wendy Barnes is Korean. Her Korean name is Hyung-Soon Lee, but she goes by her adopted American name, Wendy Lee Barnes. She earned a Baccalaureate from Sarah Lawrence College and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Mills College. Wendy teaches developmental, composition, literature, and women’s studies courses at GCC; she is also the faculty co-adviser for the Queer Straight Alliance and coordinates the Ben Drabeck Composition Award.

finnegan

Kate Finnegan, M.Ed.

Professor, Early Childhood Education/Gender and Women’s Studies

B.A., LeMoyne College
M.Ed., University of Massachusetts

E116M (413) 775-1125 finnegan@gcc.mass.edu

Ms. Finnegan participated in one of the first curriculum transformation project conferences at Wheaton College in 1983. Kate is committed to integrating scholarship about women and girls  into education courses. Kate supervises early childhood students in local early childhood programs. Kate regularly teaches PSY 233 Child Behavior and Development with a multi-layered lens both in face to face and online sections.

kelly

Mary Ellen Kelly

Professor Emerita

A.A., Asnuntuck Community College
B.A., M.A.T., University of Massachusetts
M.F.A., Simmons College

Mary Ellen taught English courses in women’s literature, developmental writing and reading, composition, children’s literature, and creative writing. Mary Ellen was instrumental in promoting the annual Virginia Low Women’s Studies Scholarship Award.

linda mccarthy

Linda McCarthy, Ed.D.

Professor, Sociology

B.A., University of Colorado
M.A., University of New Hampshire
Ed.D., University of Massachusetts

E116C (413) 775-1154 mccarthyl@gcc.mass.edu

Linda McCarthy earned her Doctorate in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2003, and teaches Sociology at GCC from a social justice perspective. Linda joined GCC in 2004, and since then has actively expanded the Sociology curriculum. Currently, courses she offers include Principles of Sociology, Social Problems, Social Inequality, Sociology of Gender, Sociology of Human Sexuality, and Sociology of the Family. Linda has published several articles and book chapters and is a former associate editor of the University of Massachusetts School of Education’s journal, Equity & Excellence in Education. Her academic interests include social stratification and the social construction of gender.

hayes

Joanne McNeil Hayes

Professor, English/Gender and Women’s Studies

B.S., University of Wisconsin
M.A., Johns Hopkins University

N316 (413) 775-1230 hayes@gcc.mass.edu

Ms. Hayes designed and taught in 1992 an Honor’s Seminar in Women of the Medieval Era. In 1993, Joanne designed and taught Women in American History. She also teaches courses in pre and post 20th century Women in Literature and Introduction to Women’s Studies. Her undergraduate degree in English is from the University of Wisconsin and her Masters is from Johns Hopkins University, where she studied women in classical antiquity.

monahan

Christine Jones Monahan

English/Gender and Women’s Studies

B.A., Salem State University
M.A., University of Massachusetts

N319 (413) 775-1273 monahan@gcc.mass.edu

Christine Jones Monahan stepped foot in GCC’s Main Building in 2003, found her people, discovered her calling, and decided that she never wanted to leave. She holds degrees in English Literature from Salem State College and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. You can bend her ear about Renaissance and Restoration poetry and drama, feminist, gender, and queer studies in general, contemporary memoir, the art of narrative, developmental reading and composition, and teaching and technology. Christine lives in Hatfield with her wife, Aileen, their sons, Adam and Andrew, and their little fuzzball, Izzy

phyliss-nahman-258x300

Phyllis Nahman

Professor Emerita

B.A., M.Ed., University of Massachusetts

Ms. Nahman grew up in Turners Falls and taught at GCC from 1971 to 2006. She was involved in both the Women’s Studies Liberal Arts option and developmental education at GCC since their inception. Phyllis taught (with great pleasure) writing, literature, developmental reading, and women’s studies courses. In May 2013, the GCC library was named Nahman-Watson Library after Phyllis Nahman and Gretchen Watson.

Corrina-final-1b-150x150

Corrina Steward

Environmental Studies

E132B (413) 775-1837 stewardc@gcc.mass.edu

Corrina began teaching at GCC in 2011 bringing with her over 10 years experience in sustainable development, social justice and global organizing. She teaches Gender and the Environment, an innovative course on the impact gender constructs, roles and politics play in environmental issues. Her teaching incorporates her experience working with the United Nations Development Programme on biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods in poor, rural communities around the world. As a graduate student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, she pioneered a study on soybean production in the Brazilian Amazon. Her work was the first to break the story about Amazon rainforest destruction from soybeans. Her Masters research is published in the Journal of Agriculture and Human Values and was used in a Greenpeace campaign that successfully won a moratorium on soybean farms in the Amazon. Corrina is now developing a project to create a global supply chain for “biodiverse, fairly-traded” honey from small producers. In addition to her field experience, Corrina brings her training as a professional and life coach to the classroom. Through this lens she strives for each of her students to discover the best in themselves and for the world. You can find more information at the Earth Hive website.

wiley

Anne M. Wiley, Ed.D.

Professor Emerita, Psychology/Gender and Women’s Studies

B.A., LeMoyne College
M.Ed., State University of New York
Ed.D., University of Massachusetts

wiley@gcc.mass.edu

Anne Wiley taught for over 35 years in Psychology and Gender/Women’s Studies. She taught Principles of Psychology, Psychology of Women, Psychology of Oppression, Human Growth and Development and the interdisciplinary course, Introduction to Gender and Women’s Studies. Anne regularly taught  courses online. She participated in one of the first national Women’s Studies curriculum transformation project conferences at Wheaton College in 1983 and helped initiate Women’s Studies at GCC.   From the first few course offerings in 1986, to the Ford Foundation grant to develop The Gender & Women’s Studies Program option, Anne was committed to the integration of Women’s and Gender Studies into the GCC curriculum. Additionally, she coordinated a past New England Women’s Studies Conference at GCC and has been an adjunct professor in Women’s Studies at Keene State College. Dr. Wiley also helped develop the GCC the Women’s Resource Center, which serves nontraditional women students. Anne is the President of the Friends of NELCWIT and co-produced the Vagina Monologues for 6 years at GCC.  Anne received the Massachusetts Online Award in 2008 for innovative use of technology. She published two articles in Women’s  Studies Quarterly and presented at numerous regional and national conferences. Anne has her Doctorate in Education from the University of Massachusetts with her dissertation title: Working Class Women in a Women’s Studies Course from a Community College: Awakening Hearts and Minds.

Why take a Gender & Women’s Studies course?

Students take Gender & Women’s Studies courses at GCC for many reasons: to fulfill a liberal arts requirement in the humanities, behavioral sciences and/or sciences core; to explore women’s lives and gender issues through literature, history, psychology, education, human ecology and/or science; and to meet the UMass diversity core requirements.

Why take Introduction to Gender and Women’s Studies?

Students enroll in an Introduction to  Gender and Women’s Studies class because they are interested in examining women and their lives. Some are curious about how women and men communicate; how popular culture and the media influences women and men; how our perceptions of race, class, age, physical ability and appearance, sexuality and ethnicity inform our understanding of human beings; and how we can begin to reevaluate traditional notions of femininity, masculinity and gender roles. Others are interested in understanding how work, welfare, family, education, and intimate relationships impact women and men. Some want an increased understanding of how violence in our culture impacts men and women. Finally, students also want to explore women’s literature, art and music is similar and different from men’s and gain a more global perspective on women.

Why do students recommend Gender & Women’s Studies courses?

Hear from some of our former students:

  • “Gender and Women’s Studies courses allowed me to discover who I am as a woman and to understand that there is more to me than what others see.”
  • “Gender and Women’s Studies opened my understanding of what options are available to me and gave me a better understanding of how the visibility of women in all curricula is necessary for a better world. For the first time, I saw myself represented, my history included, my future goals realized.”
  • “Gender and Women’s Studies courses gave me the courage to speak my mind.”

Are Gender and Women’s Studies classes only for women?

Absolutely not! Our students who have chosen to take Gender and Women’s Studies classes have said:

  • “Gender and Women’s Studies gave me a body of knowledge that taught me to question not only the answers, but the questions as well. “
  • “I strongly encourage men to enrich their lives by taking a Women’s Studies class.”
  • “Gender and Women’s Studies classes will help all, men and women, have a better overview, a more inclusive understanding of all of our history.”

Do I have to declare that I am majoring in Liberal Arts: Gender and Women’s Studies Option to take a Gender and Women’s Studies course?

NO! Gender and Women’s Studies courses are open to any student regardless of major. All students are welcome. Do Gender and Women’s Studies courses transfer?

Absolutely. Gender and Women’s Studies courses are included in nearly every college across the country. Over 800 colleges and universities have majors or minors in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. Our courses often meet liberal arts requirements at other institutions. Many courses fulfill the liberal arts general program as well as diversity course requirements for UMASS, Amherst.  If students are uncertain about the particular institution about which they hope to transfer to, they can see the transfer counselor or a Gender and Women’s Studies advisor here at GCC.

What can I do with a Liberal Arts Option in Gender and Women’s Studies?

Students transfer to nearby and national institutions and major or minor in  Gender and Women’s Studies and other liberal arts or interdisciplinary programs. Students enroll in the option to fulfill their UMass diversity core course requirements. Others transfer into career related programs in Health, Education, Social and Human Services, Counseling, Law, Technology and Gerontology. Other students wish to work in careers serving women, including women’s shelter programs, agencies serving women and children, women’s centers, men’s centers, anti bullying programs, education, women’s health services, small businesses serving women, women’s magazines, and similar careers.

What can I learn about myself as a person as a result of an experience in Gender and Women’s Studies courses?

  • “I have been flooded with the realities of how important these courses are in developing or nurturing those women whose self-esteem, like my own were made to fall through gender biased teaching and in ensuring that someday we will understand why gender lines have been so defined in our history and how to break them down.”
  • “In these few months I have begun to realize that my declining sense of myself was not a result of my own capabilities, but as a result of the social construct, so ingrained in our mentality that education is handled differently men/boys and women/girls.”
  • “To see myself represented in the subjects I love, has been totally eye opening and exciting. Paying attention is much easier.”
  • “I took away a lot from your classes and it made me really self aware and gave me an education on how important it is to be a proud woman. I just wanted to thank you for the kindness and wisdom you gave to me.”
  • “I think it is really important to know about your society, or at least be aware of what’s going on in the world, because everything around us affects us. … we can make a change if we know how and people need to find out what’s happening in society.”

 

Gender & women’s studies links and resources on the web

  • Women’s Resource Center at GCC
  • Five College Women’s Studies Research Center
    The Five College Women’s Studies Research Center was founded in 1991 as a site for scholarly activity on issues relating to women and gender. Located in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, it is supported by a consortium of Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The five institutions have a thirty-five year history of cooperation and innovation in higher education and boast one of the largest concentrations of women’s studies scholars anywhere in the world. The Center’s main purpose is to encourage engaged, critical feminist scholarship from diverse perspectives. To this end, it hosts up to fifteen scholars and activists each year for three to eight months. Research associates have come from thirty countries.
  • GCC Library Women’s Studies Resources
    The Women’s Studies LibGuide! This guide covers issues related to the study of women across disciplines.
  • Association of College & Research Libraries American Library Association: Women and Gender Studies
    The purpose of WSSLINKS is to provide access to a wide range of resources in support of Women’s Studies.
  • Women’s Studies Online Resources
    Women’s Studies Online Resources will help you find information-rich, high-quality web sites focusing on women’s studies or women’s issues; women- or gender-related e-mail lists; women’s studies files from the WMST-L File Collection; links to women’s studies programs around the world and to the Center for Women and Information Technology; financial aid for women; updates to Internet Resources on Women; and more.

Other women’s studies programs

Virginia Low Women’s Studies Award

The Virginia Low Women’s Studies Award was established in honor of Professor Emerita Virginia Low, pioneering spirit and founding mother of Women’s Studies at Greenfield Community College. The award is made annually to a current GCC student who has completed two or more courses included in the GCC Gender and Women’s Studies curriculum who demonstrates academic excellence and who shows continued commitment to gender and women’s studies, gender equity, and social justice. Both men and women are invited to apply.

Applications must be completed online in early spring through the GCC Foundation.

Virginia Low, the “mother of Women’s Studies at GCC,” lectures on the life of Mary P. Wells Smith, a woman of interest in local history best known for writing “Boy Captive in Old Deerfield.”

Dr. Anne M. Wiley Gender and Social Justice Scholarship

Named for and given in honor of Professor Emerita Dr. Anne Wiley, this annual scholarship will be awarded for the first time in May 2015. Application and criteria will be available online in early spring from the GCC Foundation.