A Salute to Women's History Month

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Gender and Women's Studies minor sees growth in program KENNESAW, Ga.  (March 21, 2014)…

Georgia (Mar 21, 2014)Gender and Women's Studies minor sees growth in program

KENNESAW, Ga.  (March 21, 2014) — In the 1960s, the role of women in American society was changing drastically.  In response to a new movement, college campuses began to develop women’s studies programs and open women’s centers to address the deepening cultural changes.

“Women’s Studies programs have had historical roots since the growth of women’s rights in the 1960s and some even earlier,” said Laura Davis, program coordinator of Gender and Women’s Studies at Kennesaw State. “Our program, which began in 2007, continues to honor this legacy by providing a space where new generations can continue to discuss today’s gender issues.”

Gender is now included in the program titles for many women’s studies programs on campuses, including Kennesaw State’s. According to Davis that’s because the program explores stereotypes of gender that affect everyone, not just women, and urges students to think about how dismantling negative gender stereotypes for men and women can make a more positive environment for everyone.

The Gender and Women’s Studies program is part of the Interdisciplinary Studies department in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Available only as a minor, the program tripled in enrollment from fall 2011 to fall 2013.

Kennesaw State’s program jumped in enrollment after the last presidential election, as well as the year of news coverage and debates leading up to the election, explained Davis.

“There was obvious interest in how gender shaped the last presidential election,” said Davis. “With the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the way gender demographics affected voting patterns, gender was on the front stage. Equally liberal and conservative students were joining our classes to understand how gender was shaping national debates. Gender matters to everybody.”

Davis said that Gender and Women’s Studies courses are always changing to reflect the current undertow in U.S. and world culture. Courses include Gender and Pop Culture, Masculinity Studies, Law and Gender, Psychology of Gender, and even more specific courses such as Women’s Italian Literature and Ecofeminism.

“I took the intro class and found it very interesting,” said Alecia Brown, a senior English major, who decided to minor in Gender and Women’s Studies.  “They were great discussion classes to balance all of the heavy writing in my English courses.”

In Fall 2014, the Gender and Women’s Studies program plans to launch a new certificate on “Gender in the Workplace,” which was developed with faculty in the Women’s Leadership Center in the Michael J. Coles College of Business and the Wellstar School of Nursing. The move reflects students’ requests to learn about practical ways gender and other diversity issues affect today’s workplace, explained Davis.

Faculty that teach in the department are from disciplines throughout the university, including the humanities, business, health, education and the arts.  The minor is available online.

“You don't even realize how many beliefs and ideas you pick up from your parents and never question,” said RickPalazesi, who signed up for a cross-listed course as an American Studies course, but decided to stay after learning that the course would focus on gender issues. He is a single dad raising a teenage daughter and found the content interesting.

“The classes help you question stereotypes and where they come from and how they affect people,” Palazesi said. “I want to better model for my own children an understanding of a wide variety of people”

His own personal experience in dealing with custody issues made him more interested in understanding how the court system has historically treated fathers.  

Through the program, Davis knows that students are gaining exposure about historical women’s milestones – from how women were imprisoned for wanting to vote to how laws once banned pregnant women from college campuses, and even how gender norms have historically affected men.

“I like that this is the kind of space where men and women are working together to learn about one another to benefit their relationships in their families and their businesses,” said Davis.

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- Tiffany Capuano 

 



 

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu

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