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.

    Please note that transfer to many four-year colleges and universities may require the completion of four sequential semesters of World Languages. Transfer specialists recommend using electives to start language requirements at the community college prior to transfer.

    Curriculum documents

    To plan degree completion, see the course descriptions in the academic catalog which specify the planned semester(s) in which required classes are to be scheduled.

  • 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
    GWS 115

    ENG Comp. II
    PCS course
    General elective
    Behavioral Science course
    Science course

    Humanities elective
    Behavioral Science 200 level course
    Science course
    GWS elective
    GWS elective

    ENG 228, 247, or 248
    GWS elective
    GWS 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
    GWS 115

    PCS course
    Behavioral Science course

    Fall 3Spring 3Fall 4Spring 4

    Science course
    Behavioral Science 200 level course
    Humanities elective

    ENG 228, 247, or 248
    GWS elective
    General elective

    GWS elective
    General elective
    Science course

    General elective
    GWS elective
    GWS elective

Student learning outcomes

Students completing a course of study in this program will be able to:
  • Describe gender and women’s studies as an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge and theory.
  • Analyze the contributions of women and gender minorities to history, literature, culture, politics, and the social sciences.
  • Explore the intersection of gender, race, class, sexuality, and other social identities, as well as the social construction of those identities.
  • Connect and provide examples of interdisciplinary concepts such as feminism, patriarchy, heterosexism, oppression, privilege, and difference.
  • Raise analytical questions about socio-political gendered issues in the US and globally.
  • Communicate effectively about social justice frameworks.
  • Generate ideas for individual and social action on gender issues.

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.

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.

Alyssa Arnell


B.A., Florida Gulf Coast University
M.A., Florida Atlantic University
M.S., Kaplan University

S324 (413) 775-1255

Alyssa has taught for Dillard University in New Orleans and has been Professor of History at Greenfield Community College since 2017, where she works to build a history program that celebrates diverse voices. Prior to GCC, she worked for the National Park Service in historic interpretation and community healing. She also worked in community civil rights activism and enforcement for over six years in Miami, Florida.

Wendy Barnes

English Faculty

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

N320 (413) 775-1283

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.

Kate Finnegan, M.Ed.

Professor Emerita

B.A., LeMoyne College
M.Ed., University of Massachusetts, Early Childhood Special Education

Kate is now Professor Emerita, having served GCC for thirty-five in various capacities: Professor of Education, Coordinator of the Education Department, Interim Dean of Behavioral Sciences, and Faculty Liaison to the Head Start Program at GCC from 1993-2000. In addition, Kate served on the Head Start Policy Council; Board of Directors for Community Action of the Franklin, Hampshire, and North Quabbin Regions; and now serves on the Head Start Education Advisory Committee. Currently, Kate teaches part-time online for GCC. In addition to her degrees, she has completed graduate coursework in educational leadership and teacher education and doctoral coursework in ethical and creative leadership.

Kate’s engagement with early care and education first began with an international teaching certificate in the Montessori Method from Dublin, Ireland and continued as a Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica. Graduate study in early childhood special education brought Kate to the Greenfield Public Schools and then to GCC.

Both early childhood special education and leadership studies in teacher education remain central to her ongoing professional work, as does working with others to address the impact of poverty on young children and their families.



Rosemarie Freeland

Women’s Resource Center Coordinator

A.A., Greenfield Community College
B.A., Smith College

C212A (413) 775-1114

I am a proud GCC Alum. In 1991 I was a single “welfare” mother of three when I enrolled. GCC professors ignited my passion for learning and staff recognized and encouraged my leadership qualities. 21 years later my three adult children are college graduates and my 6th grader has no doubt that college is in her future, too.

A colleague recently called me “the resource queen.” I strive to work WITH students to develop their ability to research and tap into the communities’ resources so that they may have success in college. In 2001 I was privileged to be honored as one of the first three GCC Distinguished Alumni. In my acceptance speech I said: “I did not get here alone. Along the way, individuals in my community and at GCC recognized that I too had something they could encourage and nurture. Each pat on the back, each word of encouragement, each challenge, even, honored me as an intelligent, compassionate woman. I did not do it by myself.”

I’m inspired by women in history. Embrace YOUR inner Rosie the Riveter! Favorite quote: “Well behaved women rarely make history.” -Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Amanda Hyde

General Biology/Natural Science

B.S., Muskingum College
M.S., University of Nevada

S419A (413) 775-1450

Amanda Hyde teaches Biology 126 and 127 and joined us in the summer of  2012.  She received her B.S. in Biology from Muskingum College in Ohio and her M.S. in Biology from the University of Nevada in Reno. Some of her graduate research included studies of behavioral ecology in her favorite charismatic microfauna (kangaroo rats) and megafauna (bighorn sheep). When not teaching she can be found (depending on the weather) either knitting, spinning and weaving or hiking, skiing and biking.

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.

Claire Lobdell


B.A., Cornell University
M.S.L.I.S., Simmons College

C300P (413) 775-1834

Linda McCarthy, Ed.D.

Social Sciences Department Co-Chair
Professor, Sociology

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

E116C (413) 775-1154

Dr. McCarthy joined GCC in 2004, and since then has actively expanded the Sociology curriculum to include many of the courses offered today. Along with teaching Principles of Sociology every semester (and online), she also teaches Social Inequality (face-to-face and online), Sociology of Gender, Sociology of Human Sexuality, and Sociology of the Family. Dr. 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. Dr. McCarthy 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. Dr. McCarthy’s classes each emphasize the connections between current social issues and sociological concepts.

Joanne McNeil Hayes

Professor, English/Gender and Women’s Studies

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

N316 (413) 775-1230

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.

Christine Jones Monahan

English/Gender and Women’s Studies

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

N319 (413) 775-1273

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

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.

Katharine Walker

Academic Counselor

B.A., Binghamton University (SUNY)
M.A., University of Massachusetts

(413) 775-1354

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

Dr. Anne Wiley, professor emerita, earned her doctorate in higher education from the school of education at UMASS. She has taught for 40 years in Psychology and Gender and Women’s Studies. Over her career, Dr. Wiley brought private and public grants to GCC that funded the GCC Women’s Resource Center and helped initiate Women’s Studies curriculum. Additionally, she coordinated a past New England Women’s Studies Conference at GCC and has been an adjunct professor in Women’s and Gender Studies at Keene State College. Anne served on the Board of NELCWIT and helped raised funds as the President of the Friends of NELCWIT for 10 years. Anne also regularly teaches courses online and received the Massachusetts Online Award in 2008 for innovative use of technology. She published two articles in Women’s Studies Quarterly as well as several online articles and has regularly presented at numerous regional and national conferences. After her retirement from full time teaching in 2013, the Anne M. Wiley Gender and Social Justice scholarship was set up, that GCC students apply for each spring. In her “semi” retirement, Anne enjoys travel, visiting family, beach vacations, reading mysteries and involvement in politics, including service on her town’s board of elections.

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.
  • 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

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 Summer)Prereq: ENG 090 and ENG 094, or satisfactory placement.

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: Periodically)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

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, or satisfactory placement.

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, or satisfactory placement

HIS 218 Women and Gender in the American West to 1920 CE – 3 credits

An exploration of the history of gendered experiences, roles, and influences, with emphasis on women in the American West before and after European and American expansion. Students concentrate on the gendered interface of Native, European, African, Middle Eastern, and Asian persons west of the Mississippi River prior to the closing of the Western Frontier. Further, students examine the unique western landscape and its influence on gender roles and experiences.

(Offered: Every Spring)Prereq: ENG 101. Recomm: HIS 105, HIS 106, or HIS 131

PSY 225 Psychology of Women and Gender – 3 credits

An exploration of current and historical understandings of the psychology of women and gender. Topics include psychological, biological, and social explanations of women’s psychology and development and critical examination of research on gender differences and similarities. The course introduces the student to a general overview of what psychologists have learned about the role of gender in people’s daily lives and explores in depth psychological research and theory on gender-related topics of interest.

(Offered: Fall in odd numbered years)Prereq: PSY 101 or permission of instructor. Recomm: ENG 101.

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: Fall in odd numbered years)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: Spring in odd numbered years)Prereq: SOC 101 or SOC 106