The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's women's, gender, and sexuality studies bachelor's degree program will encourage you to think critically about the power dynamics, oppression and privilege that exist within and among race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, colonization and other divisive social hierarchies. Using this knowledge, you'll work to advance equity, diversity, inclusivity and social justice and help create a more equitable world.
The only major like it in Northwestern Wisconsin, the program is rooted in advocacy and social justice. You may learn about LGBTQ social movements and plan Q Fest through a travel seminar in San Francisco. Storytelling is the beating heart of Q Fest and each summer the Q Fest student cohort travels to San Francisco, collectively screening hundreds of films at the Frameline Film Festival.
Or you may participate in domestic and international immersion programs through the WGSS Program. You can study the achievements of women leaders involved in the American Civil Rights Movement through a 10-day excursion to significant southern locations. Or study abroad opportunities may take you to India, where you will learn about gender in relation to Indian law and public policy.
To further prepare you for your chosen career, all women's, gender, and sexuality studies majors and minors are required to participate in a final capstone experience. Titled the “Social Justice Practicum," this course will require you to work closely with a local nonprofit organization and develop and implement a plan of action that addresses a community need. You may work collaboratively with community nonprofits, such as the Black and Brown Womyn Power Coalition, the Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center, the Community Table, the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, the EX-Incarcerated People Organizing (EXPO), the Family Support Center, and the Western Wisconsin Dairyland conducting critical research along the way.
The interdisciplinary and critical perspectives learned in the program enrich all fields of study, so graduates are well-prepared to do work in a variety of fields. Graduates of the program go on to pursue a variety of careers, from writing for women’s publications to owning a small business to organizing community outreach programs for diverse and marginalized populations. No matter your path, you'll find that a degree in women's, gender, and sexuality studies benefits both you and your community.
Internship and volunteer opportunities. Students studying women's, gender, and sexuality studies have the opportunity to gain real-world experience — while helping others — through local internships, volunteer work and service-learning projects. You may choose to assist students on campus through the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center or the Center for Awareness of Sexual Assault. Or work on various community initiatives with local organizations such as the Black and Brown Womyn Power Coalition, the Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center, the Community Table, the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, the EX-Incarcerated People Organizing (EXPO), the Family Support Center, and the Western Wisconsin Dairyland.
Impactful learning. While pursuing your studies, you'll participate as a leader within the broader university community to advance equity, diversity and inclusivity initiatives, interdisciplinary liberal education, and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/questioning/allies’ initiatives, global/transnational studies, national and international inter-cultural immersion experiences and social justice. This first-hand experience not only leads to real change but also gives you an inside look at what you'll be doing with your degree.
Collaborative student-faculty research. All UWEC students are highly encouraged to participate in undergraduate research. You may choose to study topics that relate to your career goals or those that need to be better understood or addressed. Past research projects conducted by women's, gender, and sexuality studies students include Rape Culture and Heteronormativity, Human Trafficking: Levels of Acceptance and Willingness to Help, and An Examination of Mothers, Mothering and Motherhood, an Analysis of the International Railroad for Queer Refugees — Middle Eastern LGBT Advocacy Group Based in Canada, and Patriarchy’s Negative Effects on Women’s Body Image.
Preparation for what's next. Courses throughout the major are socially and personally relevant, preparing you for meaningful work following graduation. Through projects, discussions and presentations, you'll explore the intersections among sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, cisgenderism, ableism, ageism and other forms of oppression. The program is known for shaping engaged citizens and producing successful agents of change.
Connection to local employers. Annual on-campus Career Conferences and a Non-Profit and Government Career Fair bring potential employers right to you. These events are excellent opportunities to network and submit your resume for current and future job openings.
Women's, gender, and sexuality studies program details
- Program length: four years
- Offered: in person
- Campus: Eau Claire
- This major requires a minor or certificate.
- This program is also available as a minor and certificate.
- Students majoring in this program may choose either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree.
- College Feminists
- Women Uniting and Fighting
The WGSS program is a site of social change and activism as much as theory. The goal of the field is to develop critical feminist methodologies and theories, providing students with the resources to employ intersectional and transnational analyses effectively while also integrating theory with activism whenever possible and advocating for social justice.
The interdisciplinary and critical perspectives learned in the program enrich all fields of study, so graduates are well-prepared to do work in a variety of fields. Career paths include those related to social work, community advocacy, public policy, governmental and nonprofit agencies work, and healthcare education.
Where are women's, gender, and sexuality studies alumni now?
- Adolescent reproductive health educator, Deschutes County Health Services
- Assistant director, Hoard Historical Museum
- Associate director, UWEC's Gender and Sexuality Resource Center
- Associate professor, Winona State University
- City council member, City of Eau Claire
- Domestic violence program director, Family Support Center
- Mission support associate, YWCA Southeast Wisconsin
- Prevention specialist, AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin
- Youth advocate, Rainbow House
Women's, gender, and sexuality studies careers
- Business owner
- Communication and design coordinator
- Community advocate
- Coordinator for adoption and pregnancy for family services
- Public health care educator
- Social worker
- Staff accountant for business operations
- University professor
Being a WGSS student helped me to create a social justice framework to better understand how the world works — and how it doesn't work. Every day I am able to apply this framework, which empowers me to be a part of the solution in addressing complex social issues.
Women's, gender, and sexuality studies is an interdisciplinary major that draws from the humanities, social sciences, arts and natural sciences. Curriculum within the program will help you to make important connections between your learning, your own life and the globally interconnected world. Coursework will encourage you to advocate for racial, gender and other forms of social justice — both on campus and in the larger community — and examine the lived experiences of marginalized groups impacted by systems of power.
Most WGSS courses incorporate small and/or large group discussions as well as opportunities for critical reflection and self-assessment. Classes also allow for the collection of interviews and oral histories with community activists and members of elder generations. Through individual and group presentations, you will help lead the facilitation of course materials, learning and teaching alongside your classmates.
Half of the credits required to complete the degree come from course electives, giving you the ability to customize your education. Explore courses related to gender and religion, history, health, literature, psychology and politics. This flexibility allows you to study the topics that interest you and align with your career goals.
What classes do women's, gender, and sexuality studies majors take?
Your classes may cover topics like:
- Introduction to feminist theories
- Feminist analysis and practices
- Indigenous theory and methodologies
- Social justice practicum
- Transnational feminism
- Women of color feminisms
Learn more about the women's, gender, and sexuality studies major in the UWEC course catalog.
Learn more about the women's, gender, and sexuality studies minor in the UWEC course catalog.
Learn more about the women's, gender, and sexuality studies certificate in the UWEC course catalog.
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