For women in the United States today, it is the best of times and the worst of times. One hundred years ago, only 4% of college-age women were enrolled in some form of higher education; today nearly 60% of that age group attend college. Many more careers are open to women today, yet they still earn 20% less on average than men do, and American women rank 67th in world leadership. For women who work outside the home, finding affordable, high-quality day care and health care for children, adequate maternity leave, and a harassment-free work environment can be difficult.
We need women’s studies now as much as we did in 1970, when the first women’s studies major was established at San Diego State College. UTC’s 30-hour program and 18-hour minor in women’s studies are designed to equip our students to understand problems such as those described above that are rooted deeply in patriarchy, analyze them from the perspective of several disciplines, and develop research-based solutions.
The interdisciplinary women’s studies programs combine courses that explore how power relations are gendered and complicated by issues of race, class and sexual orientation from the disciplinary perspectives of history, literary studies, rhetoric, political science, economics, criminal justice, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, religious studies, psychology, communication, and foreign languages as we teach our students to think analytically, read critically, argue cogently, and speak eloquently about gender-related issues across the disciplines. The senior seminar that caps the program offers opportunities for leadership training, service learning, and understanding the global dimensions of feminism.
“From the beginning, the goal of women’ s studies was not merely to study women’s position in the world but to change it,” writes Marilyn Jacoby Boxer in When Women Ask the Questions (13). In giving our students the tools to understand and value women’s experiences and achievements as well as to critique existing patriarchal social structures, we aim to equip and empower them to effect such change.
Professor of English and Director, Women’s Studies