Program information

The goal of the Program in Women and Gender Studies is to enable learners to recognize, analyze, and transform gender relations as they appear in everyday life. The program provides the opportunity to study women as social agents whose identities and experiences are shaped by systems of race, class, sexuality, and national power. At the same time, to study gender is to refute simple assertions about women, men, and gender binaries, and to strive instead for richly detailed accounts of the political, economic, and technological conditions through which relations of power have been established and maintained. Analyzing gender enriches our ability to apprehend the differing social roles assigned to individuals, the inequitable distribution of material resources, and the ties between structures of knowledge and larger systems of privilege and oppression. Courses examine women and gender relations in multiple cultural, historical, and material contexts, encouraging the use of transnational, multiracial feminist perspectives. Students may choose to either major or minor in women and gender studies. More information on the women and gender studies program is available on the website (

Major Requirements. Students must complete ten courses, including:

1) All of the following:
WGST 100. Introduction to Women and Gender Studies.
AA/WS 201. Race, Ethnicity, and Feminist Thought.
INDS 250. Interdisciplinary Studies: Methods and Modes of Inquiry.
WGST 400. Junior-Senior Seminar.
WGST 457 or 458. Senior Thesis.

Majors should try to take WGST 100 and INDS 250 before the end of the sophomore year.

2) Additional Courses. Five additional courses offered by women and gender studies or program-approved courses offered by other departments and programs. At least two of these five courses must be at the 300 or 400 level. No more than one Short Term course may be counted toward the major. The list below includes committee-approved first-year seminars and courses that may also be used to fulfill major or minor requirements:

AVC 375. Issues of Sexuality and the Study of Visual Culture.
EDUC 240. Gender Issues in Education.
ENG 238. Jane Austen: Then and Now.
FYS 135. Women in Art.
FYS 177. Sex and Sexualities.
FYS 305. Corporal Culture: Body and Health in America.
FYS 346. Desire, Devotion, Suffering.
PLTC 297. The Household and Political Theory.
PLTC 298. Sexuality and the Politics of Difference.
PLTC329. Law, Gender, and Sexuality.
RHET 260. Lesbian and Gay Images in Film.
RHET 265. The Rhetoric of Women's Rights.
SPAN 344. Gendering Social Awareness in Contemporary Spain.

3) WGST 457, 458. Senior Thesis.

Students should consult the program chair about transfer credits or other courses that may be used toward fulfillment of major or minor requirments.

The women and gender studies course list represents only those courses which are currently part of the Bates curriculum. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, many courses in women and gender studies have prerequisites in other departments. Majors should plan their schedules carefully and are urged to consult regularly with the chair to ensure that their program has both breadth and depth.

Senior Thesis. Planning for the senior thesis should begin in the junior year. In consultation with the chair of the program, each student chooses a thesis advisor according to the subject matter of the thesis. With the assistance of the thesis advisor, each major submits a thesis proposal to the Faculty Committee on Women and Gender Studies according to a schedule determined by the program. Students should consult the program website for thesis guidelines and a schedule of deadlines.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Aside from the thesis, which must be taken for a grade, there are no restrictions on the use of the pass/fail option within the major.

Minor. A minor in women and gender studies consists of WGST 100, AA/WS 201, INDS 250, WGST 400, at least one other 300- or 400-level women and gender studies course, and two other committee-approved courses. No more than one Short Term course may be counted toward the minor.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. There are no restrictions on the use of the pass/fail option within the minor.