Skip to main content
Indiana University Bloomington
  • People
  •  
  •  

Campus Scene

Women's or Gender Studies

women walkingGender Studies may be best understood as an evolution from the Women's Studies programs founded in the 1960's and after. In 1997, the name of Indiana University Bloomington's program was changed to recognize formally its more comprehensive attention to women, men, and various aspects of gender. A Bachelor of Arts Degree in Gender Studies was approved by the Indiana University Board of Trustees and the Indiana Commission of Higher Education in late 1996. The degree was first offered in Fall 1997.

Gender Studies is a distinct field of research working with the tools of many disciplines including the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and professional fields, with its own scholarly community, theory, and literature, including journals and other standard hallmarks of the academic profession.

Gender Studies addresses such issues as femininity and masculinity; gender and the body; gender and culture; gender and knowledge; current and historical inquiries into the relationships between the sexes; gender and aesthetics; gender as an organizing factor on social, political, and familial institutions and policy; gender role development and institutionalization; feminist theory; sexual orientation; sexual identity politics and history, queer theory, and lesbian cultural criticism and other interdisciplinary inquiries related to sex, gender, sexuality, reproduction, and feminist theory. It examines ideas of femininity and masculinity across cultures and historical periods and how these concepts are represented within cultures (e.g., literature, popular culture, the arts, science, and medicine).

The Process of Changing the Name From Women's Studies to Gender Studies

The Director of the Gender Studies program, on the behalf of the faculty, penned a memo to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences providing a rationale for the change of name on August 29, 1997. The Dean agreed and forwarded the request to the campus Chancellor who agreed and who also presented it to the Board of Trustees as an administrative information item. It did not require Board action. The Board approved the change at their October 1997 meeting. Office staff then sent messages on the change in November 1997 to all appropriate campus department and administrative units including, amongst many others, Financial Management, the Registrar's Office, Human Resource Management, all academic colleges and schools on campus, UITS, RUGS, University Enrollment Services, and to all Indiana University system offices.

The name change required a new department code: GNDR. The College of Arts and Sciences, Registrar's Office and University Enrollment Services provided advice and guidance on the process. Also, all course numbers were changed from WOST Wxxx to GNDR Gxxx for the Bloomington campus only through the usual course change processes. The changes to department name, code and course numbers/title/descriptions were completed in April 1998 for the fall 1998 registration period.

Information About the Gender Studies Program at Indiana University Bloomington

The Indiana University Gender Studies Program was created in 1973 and offers an undergraduate minor (started in 1986), a BA in Gender Studies (started in 1997), and a PhD minor in Gender Studies (started in 1980). The first faculty lines in the unit began in 1992. In 1993, a full-time director was hired. Since 1993, the faculty has doubled from 2 full-time equivalent to 4.75 full time equivalent -- including an endowed chair and relocation of parts of several faculty lines from other IU units. Undergraduate student enrollment has tripled during the same period in which the College of Arts and Sciences enrollment experienced a decline.

Gender Studies is interdisciplinary in approach. Our faculty of seven share gender as a unifying theme across their various scholarly and pedagogical interests. The faculty all explore gender issues and themes. The faculty represent philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, comparative literature, middle eastern languages and cultures, and sexuality studies. Our 23 courses explore masculinity and femininity across and within cultures, academic disciplines, and areas of knowledge. Courses explore problems, issues and themes in gender using the Gender Studies as interdisciplinary in content and application. Interdisciplinary study was born in order to solve problems unaddressed or insolvable through the methods of a single discipline. It deploys insights from an array of fields as part of the process of reaching new insights, examines questions thematically, and is problem-oriented and focused upon generating new ideas, methods or solutions. Our courses explore issues related to gender across academic disciplines. Our goal is to develop new approaches to knowledge about gender-related issues, and to transform traditional disciplines and fields of study.