Women and Gender Studies Department {College of Liberal & Creative Arts}

Image: Department of Women and Gender Studies collage


The Women Studies Department at SFSU was founded in 1976 as part of a movement to bring feminism and studies of identity into the university. At that time, most similar programs were called “Women’s Studies.” The apostrophe can imply that the discipline belongs to women rather than has women as its object of study. The program at SFSU chose to identify women as our object of study, not as the owners of the field. The Women Studies Department at SFSU is unique in its use of the construction “women studies.” Today, who and what constitute “women” is a complex topic. Since the 1970s, woman of color feminism, post-structuralism, transgender studies, and intersectional feminisms have transformed how, why, and who we study as “women.” An added emphasis on “gender” in the name of the department follows curricular, activist, and research changes to the field. “Women and Gender Studies” suggests that “women” is a contested category of identity, always subject to a multiplicity of determinants, including race, ethnicity, nation, class, sexuality, and ability. The expansion of our name does not signal a shift in our departmental mission. The content of our courses will not change. They will continue to include identity-based studies of women and men in transnational and multicultural contexts alongside deconstructive approaches to the categories of analysis (gender, race, nation, sexuality, class, ethnicity, and able-bodiedness) that frame our teaching and scholarship.

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