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Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies program seeking justice for all

Associate Professor, Heather Switzer, teaching her Gender Studies students

School of Social Transformation Associate Professor Heather Switzer leads her gender studies graduate students in a discussion. Photo courtesy the School of Social Transformation

March 08, 2024

This Women's History Month, a new online master’s degree program in which students examine gender in relation to demographics such as race, class, sexuality, disability and nationality marks its second semester.

Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies launched online in fall 2023 in Arizona State University’s School of Social Transformation.

“This degree program is the first fully online master’s degree in gender, women and sexuality studies in the country,” said Magda Hinojosa, dean of social sciences at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “It will open doors for a range of students, including nontraditional students in various circumstances, to benefit from a degree of this type.”

“This master’s program exists because of the efforts of women's rights activists over the past 200-plus years,” said Professor Alicia Woodbury, who teaches the Interdisciplinary Gender Research Methodologies course.

“Students are developing projects that focus on issues within education, violence, media and family life, and each project has an applied component to it, meaning that the students are specifically thinking through the ways in which their academic work can contribute to social transformation outside of the university,” Woodbury said.

In just the first year, students have already experienced mentorship opportunities with their professors.

“So far my favorite aspect of this program has been the content and the professors,” said student Skylar Mclaughlin. “I have had the chance, already, to access such enriching materials that are helping me to think and work in new ways.”

Professor Michelle Vlahoulis says women and gender studies allows us to explore the challenges and barriers women have faced, recognize and honor their accomplishments, and develop solutions for thriving futures.

“An advanced degree in this field continues this important work,” Vlahoulis said.  

“To quote Gerder Lerner, a famous feminist historian and one of the founders of the field of women’s history: ‘Women's history is women's right — an essential, indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage and long-range vision.’”

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