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Gender and Sexuality Studies

Women's and Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary program that examines gender and sexuality as social constructs and as historically variable components of culture. Women's and Gender Studies teaches students to reexamine traditional beliefs, to engage in new kinds of research, and to bring a critical perspective to the everyday practices that shape women's and men's lives in the United States and globally. It recognizes as well that race, class, ethnicity, age, sexuality, ability, and nationality are crucial aspects of identity and experience; these are understood to be intersecting and contested features of social life and are examined as such.

Because gender is a central feature of human experience and because the topic cuts across most disciplines, students in Women’s and Gender Studies can achieve a deeper understanding of the complexity and wholeness of human experience by using various methodologies. In the classroom, as in faculty and student research, our goal is to transform traditional ways of knowing by reaching across epistemological and methodological divisions to foster comprehensive, interdisciplinary perspectives on social life. Women’s and Gender Studies not only compels us to recognize the problems and possibilities of the changing times in which we live, but also empowers us to change the world.

Recently Offered Courses

Students can major or minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. Courses are taught as first-year or undergraduate major seminars, as topics courses, and as specialized lecture or discussion courses. Some recent examples include: Introduction to Women’s Health; Introduction to Critical Masculinity Studies; Transgender Lives in Literature and Film; Literary Lesbians; Sex and Society; Gender, Sexuality and the Body; LGBT Studies; Contemporary Women’s Movements; Women and Gender in Transnational Context; Women and Humor in the Age of Television; Sex and Gender in Everyday Life; Women Who Kill; Feminist Legal Theory; Feminism and Film.

Honors Program

The honors program in Women’s and Gender Studies requires 36 hours of course work and is designed to afford exceptional students the opportunity to undertake independent research on a topic in feminist or gender scholarship in consultation with faculty members. The program is open to all majors with junior standing who have completed at least 21 credit hours of the major and who have earned a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and a 3.3 GPA in Women’s and Gender Studies courses. Honors students produce a thesis in consultation with Women’s and Gender Studies affiliated faculty, taking an Independent Study in the fall and spring semesters of their final year to complete the thesis.

Other Special Opportunities

To supplement their academic training, students may do independent study or research in which knowledge gained in the academic environment can be applied to concrete issues in women’s and men’s lives. Students may undertake independent research in a variety of affiliated departments and programs. The program also offers service-learning courses in which students develop projects addressing social and policy issues through volunteer work in the community. Women’s and Gender Studies sponsors a couple of outside speakers each year.

After Vanderbilt

A major or minor in Women’s and Gender Studies is an excellent foundation for students who plan to enter professional schools in law, medicine, business, nursing, education, and public affairs; to move into careers in business, government, teaching, health and social administration, counseling, journalism, and advocacy; or to pursue advanced degrees in women’s and gender studies, the humanities, and the social sciences.


The Women’s and Gender Studies Program consists of more than 80 renowned faculty drawn from African American and Diaspora Studies, Anthropology, Art History, Chemistry, Classical Studies, Communication Studies, Education, English, French and Italian, Germanic and Slavic Languages, History, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology and Human Development, Religious Studies, Sociology, and Spanish and Portuguese, and from the Divinity, Law, Medical, and Nursing Schools.


Professor Katherine Crawford
Director, Women’s and Gender Studies
125 Buttrick Hall
Nashville, TN  37235
Phone: (615) 343-7808

Professor K. Allison Hammer
Associate Director and Director of Undergraduate Studies,
Women’s and Gender Studies
122 Buttrick Hall
Nashville, TN  37235

Barbara Kaeser
Program Administrator

Gender and Sexuality Studies Website