Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
About the Program
An invigorating introductory course and disciplinary distribution requirements give students a sound theoretical orientation to defining and articulating concepts and practices in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Course offerings across the disciplines — psychology, English, Romance languages, political science, philosophy, sociology and anthropology — allow students to draw connections between their major fields of study and the evolving work of scholars of gender and sex. Students are encouraged to think broadly about the role of women, gender and sexuality across many dimensions of human life.
Many of our students come to W&L with an interest in gender justice and LGBTQ+ rights and want to pursue their interests via a combination of courses, co-curricular opportunities and activism on or off campus. Many others become interested in questions about gender and feminism during their time at W&L, either because they get interested in the topic through their academic coursework or because they are seeking to understand gender relations on campus. WGSS sponsors and hosts numerous events every year so students can interact with guest speakers, faculty and each other.
The WGSS capstone requirement allows students to pursue their particular interests with the kind of intensity that turns classroom competence into an abiding passion.
Our faculty encourage students to see their studies as relevant to their everyday lives and important for understanding and responding to social justice issues. Students do just that — in a math student’s investigation into why so few women study math in college, in a fraternity member’s paper analyzing how his fraternity brothers’ drinking habits shape male privilege, or in a missionary’s daughter’s attempt to better understand how a feminist might read the Bible.
Opportunities for Students
- Amnesty International
- Gender Action Group
- Multicultural Student Association
- Project Horizon
- Queer Liberation Alliance
- Student Association for International Learning
- Sexual Health Awareness Group
- Women in Technology and Science
Our students enter a wide variety of careers. Some pursue a Ph.D. in English, history or gender studies, while others attend medical school, law school or work in public policy, nonprofits or the business world. Alumni say that the WGSS program has helped them better understand and navigate the world around them and engage with it as citizens, activists and professionals.
Hannah Denham ’20 was co-editor-in-chief of the Ring-tum Phi, the student newspaper. She interned at the Washington Post in summer 2019 and won a Randolph Hearst Foundation Journalism Award for her reporting. She completed a capstone on debates over co-education in W&L student media. She is now a reporter for the Washington Business Journal.
Chase Isbell ’21 was an LGBTQ+ peer counselor and editor-in-chief for The Vigil, an online student journal that serves as a platform for underrepresented students, and co-editor-in-chief for Ampersand, a student-run literary and arts magazine. Chase was also vice president of the Queer Liberation Alliance, the LGBTQ+ rights organization on campus, and received the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for the Class of 2021.
Beverley Xia ’22 is co-president of the Gender Action Group. She has worked to raise awareness on campus about the Equal Rights Amendment, and she helped organize events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America.