WGSS to celebrate establishment of major at launch party Tuesday

The Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program will celebrate the launch of its new major from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 10 at MD Anderson’s Library’s Rockwell Pavilion.

The event, titled “Got Gender?” will present prospective and current students, as well as faculty members with the WGSS Major, other WGSS’ courses and disciplines, posters on cross-disciplinary research on gender issues and networking opportunities.

“It should be a really fun celebration to (recognize) this major milestone in the program,” Ayanna McCloud, program director of WGSS’ community arm Friends of Women’s Studies, said. “We’ll feature different presentations from different faculty members about WGSS topics. We will also have a feminist photo booth and snacks for folks to eat.”

Director of the WGSS program and English professor Elizabeth Gregory said the major represents the latest step forward in the program and will better prepare students for a constantly developing society.

“You can say that life is a women’s or gender studies class,” Gregory said. “Every other news story has to do with the dynamics of gender in society. At its base, gender is a work-assignment system, or it has been historically said only certain people did certain kinds of work. That’s changing, and that means you’ll have shifts in every realm because gender no longer defines who can do what job. Our understanding of sexuality is also changing, allowing us to respect all people for who they are and what they contribute to society.”

Gregory also revealed that, due to the establishment of the major, the WGSS program has created new classes.

“In the minor, we generated our introductory classes and the rest of the courses were cross-listed,” Gregory said. “(For the major,) we have new curriculum, including classes on gender and society, transnational perspectives; intersectionalities of gender, race, class and ability, sexuality and age. WGSS is not just a content-focused curriculum, as you’re also learning an analytical approach that can be transferred to other fields.”

Gregory mentioned that students minoring in WGSS can easily attain the major or double major by taking four additional advanced classes on top of courses they have taken for their minor.

For WGSS assistant professor Rachel Quinn, the classes offered in the major will provide a ground for all students to participate in the discussion on gender and sexuality.

“One of the things that I’ve been working on is a masculinity studies initiative that hopefully will bring more men into our classrooms,” Quinn said. “We also have a lot of LGBT and transgender students on our campus.”

Regarding applicability in the real world, Gregory said the WGSS major will prove beneficial to its students in every occupation.

“(The classes) put people in control of how gender works in society, which everybody is subjected to,” Gregory said. “If you don’t have a bigger perspective, then you’re much more subjected to taking other people’s words for what you’re supposed to be doing.”

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