COVID-19 Update

Our operational status

Classes for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 are a mix of in-person, online, and hybrid modalities. We recommend email and/or Canvas as the best way to reach faculty and instructors. Academic departments are minimally staffed.

For more information: UWL's COVID-19 info hub

Carrie Bero, '14

Women's Studies

"I loved that we had opportunities to choose where to invest our time and energy in the program; I had so many opportunities to tailor assignments to my interests, to write papers about topics that were especially compelling to me."

Kaitlin Schmitt, '14

Women's Studies

"I felt a level of support from my professors that I have not felt in other settings—it was clear that they cared about my success as a student and my well-being. They were all incredibly helpful when I was applying for graduate school."

Megan Gokey, '09

Women's Studies

"I appreciate the friendships and mentors I will always have through this program. Each and every single professor was invested in my education and in my future, and because of the nature of the WGSS degree; every student was invested as well."

Miranda Martin, '18

Women's Studies

"I appreciate most about this program how open everyone is and how ready they are to learn things that can help. Overall, I really like that this program offers ways to actually get out there and change the world around us, and to shape our reality; rather than just sitting and discussing issues."

Spring 2021 courses

WGS 100

+WGS 100 Cr. 3   Gender, Race, and Class in American Institutions

This course provides an introduction to how gender, race and class have intertwined over time to produce women's social roles and status in American culture. The creation, transmittal, interpretation and institutionalization of gender roles will be examined using family and kinship, the educational system, the media, work, government and the health care system. The course provides a critical, interdisciplinary perspective on scholarship which omits or distorts the female experience.

WGS 308

WGS 308 Cr.3    Gender Justice, and Film

Along with other forms of media, film helps to create, introduce, and reinforce cultural values, norms, and understandings. Using an interdisciplinary approach, this course will provide students tools with which to critically analyze film as a cultural product, with a specific focus on representations of gender and justice. Films to be viewed and analyzed will focus on issues such as interpersonal and gendered violence, parenting, immigration, economic justice, criminal justice policy, leadership, and the social construction of race, class, gender, and sexuality. While films will be the primary text in the course, each will be supplemented with the empirical and theoretical literature on the subject at hand. Prerequisite: one from the following: WGS 100, WGS 210, WGS 212, WGS 230, CST 110, EDS 206, EFN 205, ERS 100, SOC 110, SOC 120. Instructor: Terry Lilley

WGS / SOC 316

WGS/SOC 316   Cr. 3 Gender, Sexuality, and Social Change in Religion

This course examines the various gender roles, norms, mobility, restrictions and empowerment that people experience within religious traditions, for example: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Global case studies and engaging narratives focused on the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and religion will be considered. Special attention will be paid to feminist laypersons and religious leaders who are reformulating traditional understandings and practices, and in turn, negotiating their agency within secular and spiritual spaces. Prerequisite: WGS 100WGS 130WGS 150SOC 110SOC 120, or EDS 206. (Cross-listed with SOC/WGS; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Occasionally. Instructor: Mahruq Khan

WGS 321

WGS 321 Cr. 3   Sexual Violence in the United States

This course will explore the history of sexual violence in the United States and the histories of organized responses to that violence. Special attention will be paid to how the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and gender impact the experience of, and public and political response to, sexual violence. Prerequisite: one from the following: WGS 100, WGS 130, WGS 150, PH 200, EDS 206, ERS 100, PSY 100, SOC 110, SOC 120. Offered Spring - Odd Numbered Years. Instructor: Terry Lilley

WGS 330/ENG 481

WGS 330/ENG 481 Cr. 3   Topics: Intersectional Feminism and Sexuality

Intersectional Feminism and Sexuality examines the connections between feminist thought and cultural representations of erotic life. The first half of the course will explore womxn's sexuality through the lens of literary historicism, engaging with early modern and Enlightenment narratives of heteronormativity and queerness, marriage, orgasm and sexual pleasure, auto-eroticism, menstruation, fertility and sexual generation. The second half of the course will build from this history to critically engage twentieth century and contemporary feminist writings on pornography and sexual violence. We will read essays by feminist scholars who raise significant questions about the ethics and politics of Western erotic culture. Students taking this course should be aware that they will be asked to read, discuss, and write scholarly projects on sexually explicit material.  Instructor: Kate Parker

WGS 373

WGS 373 Cr. 3   Gender and Human Rights

This course will provide an overview of transnational women's human rights movements in a variety of locations around the world; locations will vary with the instructor. Included in this overview will be the study of women's political participation as a human rights issue; women's bodily integrity as a human right; violence against women and reproductive sexual health and rights; human rights as a framework for social and economic and gender justice; and human rights as (quasi) legal accountability; UN agreements, treaties and venues of redress. Prerequisite: WGS 100, WGS 130, WGS 150, EDS 206, or ERS 100. Offered Fall - Odd Numbered Years.  Instructor: Mahruq Khan


The mission of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Department is to empower students to think critically about gender and sexuality, challenge social inequality, and become ethical problem-solvers, preparing them for careers, engaged citizenship, and advanced degrees.  We advance knowledge and critical conversations about social justice through teaching, research, service and community engagement, including our pre-college Self Sufficiency Program for adults in the community.  We provide students with opportunities to develop research and communication skills and creatively use the knowledge and practices of our discipline.  

Learn more about us »

The Faculty and Staff of WGSS

The WGSS Department (from L-R):
Deb Hoskins, Jodi Vandenberg-Daves, Terry Lilley, Mahruq Khan, Andrea Hansen, and Pearl Bearhart

Program outcomes
& opportunities

The basis of many of our courses begins with:

  • a desire to make the world better,
  • to ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect
  • to allow people to live their lives more fully

We use an intersectional approach to understanding people/groups and students gain a deep understanding of how race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. all contribute to their experience of the world, physically, socially, and emotionally.

Did you realize that...

In 2018, women comprised 20% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.

Center for the study of Women in Television & Film

A heart attack is more likely to be fatal in a young woman than a young man, perhaps because women’s cardiac symptoms are more often misattributed to anxiety or depression than men’s.

"How one woman changed what doctors know about heart attacks" New York Times, Feb. 2019 

In 2018, 110 (81D, 29R) women hold seats in the United States Congress, comprising 20.6% of the 535 members; 23 women (23%) serve in the U.S. Senate, and 87 women (20.0%) serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics

Nearly 12% of high school females reported physical violence and nearly 16% reported sexual violence from a dating partner in the 12 months* before they were surveyed.

The 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey

Women may make up 64% of the physical therapist (PT) workforce, but in 2013, they earned about 88% of what male PTs made, according to the latest data from the US Census Bureau.

"US Census: Median PT earnings nearly $10k lower for women than men in 2013" PT In Motion News, APTA

Multiple studies have shown that the presence of a [Gay Straight Alliance] at school is linked to safety at school for LGBTQ youth, as well as youth in general.

Kosciw et al., 2008; Lee, 2002; O’Shaughnessy et al., 2004; Szalacha, 3003

Experimental studies generally report that exposure to ultrathin bodies idealized in the media leads to body dissatisfaction, weight dissatisfaction, and negative affect among many women.

Grabe, Ward, & Hyde, 2008; Groesz, Levine, & Murnen, 2002

Lesbian and gay Christians who were part of an affirming faith community indicated higher levels of psychological well-being, so by providing information to LGBT clients regarding affirming faith groups, counselors might challenge the myth of incompatibility between LGBT sexual, gender, and spiritual identity.

Lease, S. H., Horne, S. G., & Noffsinger-Frazier, N. (2005). Affirming faith experiences and psychological health for caucasian lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(3), 378-388. doi:

The “severity” of sexual harassment experiences have no effect on the level of harm the person being harassed experiences. Infrequent “high intensity” sexual harassment (i.e. assault) is just as detrimental as frequent “low intensity” harassment (i.e. crude jokes, etc.).

Sojo, V. E., Wood, R. E., & Genat, A. E. (2015). Harmful Workplace Experiences and Women’s Occupational Well-Being. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 40(1), 10-40. doi:10.1177/0361684315599346

Hear our alumni discuss the relevance of their Women's Studies degrees to their various careers

Academic assistance

Below is a small section of resources which may help you in your pursuit of a college degree. Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions along your journey.

We'd love to see you on campus.