Students in the Women’s & Gender Studies Program at WVU study diverse topics that cross academic boundaries and relate to issues in everyday life. We offer classes in fields such as sociology, history, English, political science, geography, and foreign languages which help students develop a well-rounded understanding of the world in which they live. 

The focus of women’s & gender studies is to consider how gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and age shape all aspects of women’s lives. It explores how society constructs the concepts of ‘femininity’ and ‘masculinity’ during different time periods and across cultures. Women’s & gender studies also encourages students to think critically and develop skills that will prepare them for careers in public relations, criminology, policy analysis, information technology, international development, and many other fields.

The Value of Women’s & Gender Studies


Here is what they have to say about the value of a women’s & gender studies program: 

“I don’t know where it came from, maybe frustration and/or anger, but I found the strength to challenge the system.”

“Women’s Studies gave me the confidence to enter a nontraditional field, energy conservation, and to understand and diffuse problems that arise when women are entering new or different territory. What I learned was that if I wanted to succeed in a way that was possible and comfortable for me, I had to work to change the criteria for success.”

“Currently, I manage a program that has a lot of staff, subcontractors, etc. I run it in a cooperative and open manner, what I consider feminism at work, analyzing power relationships and turning ‘power over’ into ‘power to’. I learned this in Women’s Studies.”

“Women’s Studies has taught me well, thank you.” Dawn Paul-Energy Conservation Manager-University of Rhode Island-1979

“I am from a generation where it was considered important for a woman to obtain an education, but only so that she could raise more intelligent children who would have a better chance of success in a world that was rapidly changing. Emphasis was placed on marriage to a good man who would take care of his wife. Two marriages, two divorces and four children later, I found myself undereducated, unemployable, and on welfare. The emphasis in my life suddenly centered on survival in a system that seemed to undervalue me and was intent, not on helping me become employable and self-sufficient, but on keeping me home to raise my children. I was informed that I would never get off welfare and that my children would grow up to become welfare parents.”

“I don’t know where it came from, maybe frustration and/or anger, but I found the strength to challenge the system.” Lynne said that she did not “think that I would ever have been able to participate or do the things I have if I had not started taking Women’s Studies classes. Yes, I would major in Women’s Studies again. This major has opened the world for me.” Lynne A. Patton-Congressional Fellow-Wichita State University-1989 (Lynne received her master’s degree in May 1993. Governor Joan Finney appointed her Institutional Conservation Program manager for the Kansas Corporation Commission, and she administers a $7 million grant program that funds energy conservation measures for schools and hospitals statewide.)

“Majoring in Women’s Studies has been a boost to my career as a journalist. Not only has it helped me to get hired, but the sensitivity I gained to issues of gender, race, class, and sexual preference has served me well as a reporter. The editors who hired me all seemed interested and impressed by my choice of a major. I think having Women’s Studies on my resume has shown that I am interested in current issues and enjoy conducting original research from a fresh perspective. In job interviews and on my resume, Women’s Studies has helped set me apart form other journalism majors and liberal arts graduates. But, far more importantly, I think my major has given me the skills that have allowed me to understand and appreciate the lives of people living in the communities I’ve covered.” Amey Stone-Graduate Student in Journalism, Yale University, 1988.

Excerpts reprinted with permission from: Luebke, Barbara F.,& Reilly, Mary Ellen (1995) Women’s & Gender Studies Graduates: The First Generation. New York: Teachers College Press, Copyright Teachers College, Columbia University.