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Gender and Women's studies major



GWS Chair

The Department Chair for Gender & Women's Studies is Dr. Sheena Malhotra

Please follow the link to Dr. Malhotra's webpage (below) for her office hours and contact information.


Dr. Dianne Bartlow will serve as the Advisor for Gender & Women's Studies in 2009-2010.

Please come in and see the GWS Advisor if you have any questions about your class scheduling or if you are considering Gender & Women's Studies as a major or minor.

Helpful Forms for GWS majors
Links to GWS Clubs & Organizations

Click here to view Artist Credits.

Gender & Women's Studies Major Requirements

Part of Mural at Women's Center

The Gender and Women’s Studies Department emphasizes interdisciplinary, cross-cultural and transnational studies with a focus on gender.

It includes course work in feminist theories, women and social movements, transnational feminisms, women of color feminisms, postcolonial feminism, women’s economic conditions in the context of globalization and development, productions of women in the media and literature, queer studies, women’s health and masculinity studies.

The Gender and Women’s Studies Department teaches students to view the world with a critical analytical approach grounded in a social justice framework. The department adheres to a disciplinary practice that centers on an integrative, intersectional framing of issues concerning gender, race, class, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, age and the differently abled.

The major and minor provide a background for various careers such as law, counseling and healthcare or advanced graduate degrees in fields such as Women’s Studies, education, communication, politic, cultural and media studies.

Requirements for the B.A. Degree

The major in Gender & Women's Studies is a 45 unit major. It consists of required lower division and upper division courses, plus upper division electives and a concentration.

Required Courses - Lower Division (3 Units)

Students are required to take EITHER GWS 100 or GWS 110 to fulfill lower division requirements

GWS100 - Introduction to Women's Studies (3)

An interdisciplinary study of women in American society, including such topics as social conditions, laws, symbols, values, communication, and power. (Available for General Education, Comparative Cultural Studies F-3)


GWS110 - Women, Work, and the Family (3)

Focuses on historical and contemporary relationship between home and community work and the marketplace within which women perform.   Examines the differences in experience of work and family as these are shaped by race, class, gender and sexuality. (Available for General Education, Comparative Cultural Studies.)

Upper Division Requirements (15 Units)

GWS300 - Women as Agents of Change (3)

Prerequisite: GWS100 or GWS110 or consent of the instructor, and completion of the lower-division writing requirement. New definitions and options for women within the family, community, and society. Students study and report on women's resources and organizations for change within the local community as well as on the national and international scene. (Available for General Education, Comparative Cultural Studies F-3)

GWS 301 - Feminist Theories

Prerequisite: GWS100, GWS110 or GWS300, or consent of the instructor. Course explores many different kinds of feminist theories historical and contemporary (Fall Semester Only).

GWS 302 - Feminist Methods

Prerequisite: GWS100, GWS110 or GWS300, or consent of the instructor. Course explores the many different kinds of feminist methods/methodologies that emerge out of, and/or are complementary with, feminist theories. (Spring Semester Only)

GWS 305 - Gender and Women's Studies Community Service

Prerequisite: GWS100, GWS110 or GWS300, or consent of the instructor. Students work in a variety of community settings- educational, political, and/or social service agencies- to apply theoretical understanding of Women's Studies to pratical and concrete community situations which affect women's daily lives. Includes regular class meetings. (Fall Semester Only).

GWS 400 - Gender and Women's Studies Senior Seminar

Prerequisite: GWS301, or consent of the instructor. Variable themes. With emphasis on examination of multiple levels of women's relationship to power cross-culturally (economic, political, social, personal, symbolic), students produce research paper(s) which integrate the multidisciplinary field. (Spring Semester Only).

Upper Division Electives (15 Units)

15 units of electives must be taken from the list below. Up to 12 units of Electives can be Experimental and Selected Topics courses, as long as the suffix is different. 3 units may be taken outside the department in consultation with a Women's Studies advisor.

Additional courses require the consent of the Department Chair or Department Advisor. Students may, with the approval of the Women's Studies chair, receive credit for up to 3 units of independent study, which may be counted as an elective in the major.

Course #

Course Name


GWS 320

Women and Urban Life


GWS 340

Women, Gender, and Global Development


GWS 350

Gender, Race, Class, and Sexuality


GWS 360

Feminist Ethics


GWS 370

Women and Violence


GWS 380

Sexual and Reproductive Health


GWS 396A-Z

Experimental Topics in Women's Studies


GWS 410

Sex, Lies & Media


GWS 420

Women and Gender in Islamic Societies


GWS 430

Global Sexualities


GWS 495A-Z

Selected Topics in Women's Studies


GWS320- Women and Urban Life (3)

Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Course examines the gendered use of space and how women have balanced and crossed public and private spheres. Examines women and urban issues from the micro-level (community-based organizations and grassroots mobilizations) to the macro-level (national and international states and corporate entities).

GWS340- Women, Gender & Global Development (3)

Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement Course examines women's roles and concerns in socio-economic and political development processes. Positive and negative effects of colonization, post-colonial modernization, democratization, and capitalist and socialist development strategies on women and gender relations in the "Global South" and "Global North" will be examined.

GWS350- Intersections of Gender, Race, Class and Sexuality (3)

Course examines historical and contemporary issues surrounding the diversity of women living in the U.S. Gender, race, socio-economic class and sexuality are presented as central theoretical concepts and as conditions of experience that affect all women and men, as well as being primary categories of social relations for us all.

GWS360- Feminist Ethics (3)

Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Course examines debates about whether an essential "women's" morality exists and considers what is at stake in these arguments. Course examines the impact of gender on categories of moral virtue and ethical agency. Raises the question of how (and if) women's experience has created a moral vision which challenges the dominant ethical norms of U.S. culture.

GWS370- Women and Violence (3)

Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. This course focuses on dimensions of violence women experience in the United States and internationally. It provides an overview of sexual violence including rape in intimate partnerships, childhood sexual assault, sexual harassment, sex trafficking, and violence against women under foreign occupation. Varied feminist scholarship around three broad areas will be covered: Sexual Violence Against Women, Physical Violence Against Women; and Perpetrators of Violence Against Women. The course includes an examination of case studies that illuminate domestic abuse, judicial abuse and war rape among others. (Avalilable for General Education, Social Sciences).

GWS380- Sexual and Reproductive Health(3)

The course employs a gender-based analysis of the global problem of sexual health and examines the cultural, social and economic variables associated with sexual and reproductive health disparities in the US and abroad. THe course provides a feminist approach to understanding women's symbolic meaning in society; and inequality of power in sexual relationships. In addition, the course has a community service component, which involves a project on public health activism in the local community (20% of the grade).

GWS410 - Sex, Lies & Media (3)

Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. In this course, students employ critical perspectives to examine narrow definitions of gender/sexuality constructed in media representations. Students deconstruct norms of masculinity and femininity generated by industries such as television, film and advertising which perpetuate and naturalize the commodification of women’s bodies. Special attention is paid to bodies and modes of sexuality that transgress (representations of the queer body, for example). Students also construct alternative imagery and generate new ideas about gender and sexuality through discussion and various projects.

GWS420 - Women and Gender in Islamic Societies (3)

Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. This interdisciplinary and cross-cultural course explores how gender roles, sexual norms and gender attitudes have reflected, resisted or changed in response to historical, cultural, social, economic and political changes in the Islamic societies. What has been the impact of modernity, colonialism, modernization, nationalism, and globalization on the status of Muslim women and gender relations? How have Muslim women sought to articulate and define their roles and identities? What is the impact of the recent wave of Islamist movements (“fundamentalism”) on women and the gender politics? How the Muslim women’s responses have interacted with the transnational women’s movements and global feminism? In addition to required readings, class lectures and guest speakers, we will watch and discuss a few documentary films.

GWS430 - Global Sexualities (3)

Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Neoliberal globalization is fundamental to understanding contemporary discourses of sexuality as sexuality is also key to understanding global issues. The course will foreground a wide range of theoretical perspectives of feminist, quer and globalization theories that help students understand how the emergence of sexuality as an intellectural and social arena is concurrent with specific characteristics of the globalization process and how the new theories of sexuality advance and challenge the feminist agenda for global social and gender justice.

GWS395/GWS495- Special and Experimental Topics in Women's Studies (3)

Prerequisite: completion of GWS100 or 110 and 300. The study of selected themes or figures in Women's Studies. Topics will change from semester to semester. These are courses that are either offered one time (Special Topics courses) or new courses in development (Experimental Topics). You may take upto 4 of these courses towards your Major Electives as long as the suffix is different.


All Students must also complete a 12 unit concentration from the list of seven possible concentration areas below. They may also design a concentration in consultation with the Chair of Women's Studies.

I. Philosophy & Religion (12 Units)

GWS 420

Women and Gender in Islamic Societies

ANTH 308

Women, Sex Roles and Culture

JS 330

Women in the Jewish Experience

PHIL 338

Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 348

Philosophy and Feminism

RS 304

Women and Religion

II. Race & Ethnicity (12 Units)

GWS 350

Intersections of Gender, Race, Class & Sexuality

GWS 420

Women and Gender in Islamic Societies

AAS 340

Asian American Women

CAS 365

Changing Roles of Central American Women

CHS 246

CHS 346

CHS 365

Contemporary Issues of the Chicana (3) OR

History of the Chicana/Mexicana OR

Third World Women and the Chicana

JS 330

Women in the Jewish Experience

LSRC 330

Women, Leisure, and Ethnicity in the U.S.

PAS 324

Black Women in Contemporary Times

III. Communication & Media (12 Units)

GWS 410

Sex, Lies & Media

ART 468

RTVF 413

Women in the Visual Arts OR

Women as Filmmakers

COMS 360

Communication and the Sexes

COMS 435

Rhetoric of Women

JOUR 371

Women and the Media

JOUR 372

Diversity and the Media

IV. Law & Public Policy (12 Units)

BLAW 391

Women and the Law

HIST 349

Women in American History

POLS 350

Great Questions in Politics

POLS 361

Introduction to Public Policy

POLS 448

Women and Politics in the U.S. and the World

V. Social Work & Welfare (12 Units)

FES 340

Marriage and Family Relations

HSCI 231

Women and Health

SOC 324

Sociology of Sex Roles

SOC 325

Sex Roles and Work

SOC 357

Introduction to Social Work Practice

VI. Criminology (12 Units)

BLAW 391

Women and the Law

SOC 304

Sociology of Deviance

SOC 324

Sociology of Sex Roles

SOC 355


SOC 496W

Women and Crime

VII. Literature (12 Units)

ENGL 431

Images of Women in Literature

ENGL 433

Women Authors

ENGL 434

19th Century Women Novelists


Choose two courses from the following list:

CHS 351

Contemporary Chicana Literature

ENGL 369

Lesbian Writers

FLIT 455

Women Writers of Asia

PAS 346

Contemporary Black Female Writers

GWS 310

Latin American Women Writers


Total Number of Units........45