Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

The women’s, gender and sexuality studies (WGSS) program examines how ideas about women, gender and sexuality are organizing principles of society that intersect with racialization, urbanization, immigration, (dis)ability, religion and a number of other historical phenomena. Our interdisciplinary program’s curriculum spans the four divisions of Earlham College and encourages you to take artistic, literary, social scientific, historical, psychological and medical approaches to gender and sexuality.

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of WGSS graduates from 2017-2019 were working or in graduate school within six months of graduation.
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Top sectors for WGSS grads include community and social services, education and nonprofits.

Approximately 70% of WGSS majors pursue graduate and professional programs. The most popular areas of graduate work are law, mental health, education, library science, non-profit management and creative writing.

Exploring the intersection of gender, race, class, nation and sexuality

WGSS at Earlham stands out from gender and sexuality studies programs at other liberal arts colleges in two ways.

First, while feminist theory, LGBT and queer studies, postcolonial studies and women’s history are the core of our curriculum as they are at other schools, WGSS students at Earlham are particularly interested in social and economic justice. Current WGSS majors and minors are working as union organizers, in the immigrant rights movement, with Justice for Janitors and the Fight for $15, and other movements dedicated to winning the resources that women of color, queer families, single parents, poor people and others on the margins need to survive.

Second, because of our major and minor track system, the WGSS program has been of particular interest to people in the STEM fields. Earlham students majoring in one of the natural sciences, like biology, biochemistry, computer science or physics, often double-major or minor in WGSS. The program will be particularly helpful in preparing you for the social and cultural aspects of work in fields such as technology and engineering.

Hands-on experience

Between the internship requirement and the senior demonstrative project, you’ll have plenty of chances to put theory to practice in real-world scenarios.

Choose your track

Choose from history, social science, humanities or psychology & health studies to shape your primary track through the major.

Our faculty

Because WGSS is an interdisciplinary major that examines issues through multiple lenses, our women’s, gender, sexuality studies faculty come from a variety of departments, including politics, English, sociology/anthropology, history and psychology.

Program details

As a WGSS major, you’ll dedicate your first three years to deep engagement with your individual track of study, spending your time reading, writing, on the stage, in the laboratory, in the archive or at work in the community.

During your senior year, you’ll do a collaborative demonstrative project, where you present your work to the wider Earlham community. You will also take a capstone seminar, where you produce an original research project on an individualized topic that you workshop with your peers. You will end up with a coherent area of expertise that directly translates to your life and work after Earlham.

As a liberal arts college, Earlham offers multiple disciplinary and interdisciplinary majors and minors in which students cultivate deep and specific knowledge and experience. Equally important, the College expects every student to develop broad, general skills and proficiencies across the curriculum.

As part of their general education, students complete six credits in each academic division of the College: humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and visual and performing arts. In addition, students meet requirements for first-year courses, analytical reasoning, perspectives on diversity and wellness.

Learn more about general education at Earlham.

To earn a Bachelor of Arts in women’s, gender, sexuality studies, you must complete the following courses, in addition to general education requirements.

Choose a primary track within the major to focus your studies: history, social science, humanities, psychology and health studies.

You will complete:

  • Four courses in your primary track
  • Two courses in each of two secondary tracks
  • One Writing Intensive course
  • One Research Intensive course
  • WGSS 481 Internship
  • WGSS 487 Senior Demonstrative Project
  • WGSS 488 Senior Capstone Experience

View a full list of WGSS courses and their descriptions.

This track focuses on how the concepts of women, gender and sexuality have changed over time. Courses that count toward the historical track include but are not limited to:

  • HIST 246 European Women’s and Gender History
  • HIST TBD Women, Gender and Sexuality In Modern Africa
  • HIST 367 History of Women, Gender and Sexuality in the United States
  • HIST 372 Asian American History through the Media
  • REL 232 Women, Gender and Sexuality in the Jewish Tradition
  • ANCS 357 Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World

View a full list of WGSS courses and their descriptions.

This track focuses on how the concepts of women, gender and sexuality are socially, culturally, politically, and economically constructed. Courses that count toward the social science track include but are not limited to:

  • PAGS 351 Workplace Justice
  • SOAN 118 Inequalities, Power and Society
  • SOAN 215 Identity and Social Movements
  • SOAN 365 Women, Gender and Sexuality
  • POLS TBD Women and Politics in the United States
  • POLS 333 Gender and Sexuality in the Muslim Middle East and North Africa
  • WGSS 305 Radical Queries

View a full list of WGSS courses and their descriptions.

This track focuses on how the concepts of women, gender and sexuality grow out of representation practices in media, performance, film, literature and visual art Courses that count toward the humanities track include but are not limited to:

  • WGSS 382 Feminist Art and Theory – 1970 to Present
  • ENG 203 Women and Literature
  • ENG 206 Literature and Identity
  • ENG 309 Prophetic Black Women
  • ENG 358 Gender and Sexuality in Literature
  • ENG 364 Postcolonial Literature

View a full list of WGSS courses and their descriptions.

This track focuses on how ideas about the mind, consciousness, neurobiology, health, genetics, and disease produce the concepts of women, gender and sexuality. Courses that count toward the psychology and public health track include but are not limited to:

  • PSYC 230 Human Development
  • PSYC 344 Psychology of Gender
  • PSYC 353 Behavioral Neuroscience
  • PSYC 356 Psychology of Prejudice
  • PSYC 364 Psychology of Women
  • PSYC 368 Human Sexuality
  • BIOL 112 Cells, Genetics and Inheritance
  • BIOL 200 Epidemiology
  • BIOL 351 Human Genetics and Genomics
  • SOAN 335 Health, Medicine and Society

View a full list of WGSS courses and their descriptions.

Yes! To earn a minor in women’s, gender, sexuality studies, you must complete a total of five courses:

  • Three or more courses in a primary track
  • One course in two other tracks

View a full list of WGSS courses and their descriptions.

Earlham’s women’s, gender, sexuality studies graduates are everywhere doing everything. They are attorneys and social workers, advocates, acupuncturists, schoolteachers, midwives, carpenters and college professors.

Approximately 70% of WGSS majors pursue graduate and professional programs. Majors have completed graduate degrees at the University of Virginia, the University of Michigan, Iowa University, Smith College School of Social Work, Tuffs, Northeastern University, Indiana University, the City University of New York, Brown University and others.

WGSS graduates are using the skills and knowledge they gained in the program as:

  • A fellow in the Office of the Chief Operating Officer at Planned Parenthood of America in Washington, D.C.
  • A senior trial attorney at EEOC
  • The executive director of JustFaith Ministries
  • A principal at MC Lane Consulting, a consulting firm specializing in diversity education and organizational structures
  • The dean of the library services at Bergen Community College
  • A teacher at Youth Build Charter School of California and a member of their Youth Justice Coalition

It is a requirement of all WGSS majors to complete an internship before graduation. Internships can be done on an off-campus program, during the summer or in Richmond during the academic year.

Recent internships have included research at the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, editing and publishing at the feminist publication Off Our Backs and working at the National Women’s History Alliance.

Learn more about available programs via our Center for Global and Career Education.

This is a program in which you and the faculty are enriched emotionally and intellectually. Our curriculum features wide-ranging courses in a variety of disciplines, as well as integrative core courses that are structured around generative, cutting-edge debates in feminist theory, practice and pedagogy. This interdisciplinary view does not limit itself to a single doctrine, methodology or position but encourages you to develop your own feminist stance. WGSS courses offer consistent and integrated attention to differences of race, class, generation, nation, sex and sexuality, with influences from queer studies and post-colonial theory. The relationship between theory and activism appears throughout the women’s, gender, sexuality studies curriculum in both individual courses and through the required internship and senior project.

If you’re looking for a program that will help you deepen your understanding of gender and sexuality and give you the tools to make an impact on today’s society, WGSS could be the program for you.

Next steps

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.