PHONE: (313) 593-5644
DATE: August 17, 2005
UM-Dearborn to launch women's and gender studies major
DEARBORN---The University of Michigan-Dearborn will launch a new bachelor
of arts degree program focusing on women's and gender studies, to prepare
students for careers in legal, educational, health, governmental, business
and social service arenas focused on women's issues, diversity enhancement
and gender equality.
The new degree program, which was approved by the U-M Regents at their
July meeting, will begin offering classes this fall.
The presence of a women's and gender studies degree program signals the
importance of inquiry into the histories and status of women of diverse
social locations and backgrounds, and the influence of gender as an organizing
principle on every aspect of life, according to philosophy Prof. Maureen
Linker, director of UM-Dearborn's women's
and gender studies program.
"As evidenced by a number of indicators, such as the fact that only
14 percent of our national elected officials are women, the ideal of sexual
equality in society has not been reached," Linker said.
"Women students currently make up 52.6 percent of our campus's undergraduates,
with 60.6 percent of them being undergraduates in the College
of Arts, Sciences, and Letters," she noted. "This new degree
program opens up space for those students to imagine alternatives to gender
inequalities in the home, workplace, and academy. While some faculty in
other departments include some gender-related material in their classes,
a women's and gender studies major will allow students--both men and women--to
ask questions about gender differences and women's lives in an academic
setting devoted to rigorous intellectual inquiry."
The new program will provide a more in-depth and coherent curriculum
than is currently available to students through UM-Dearborn's existing
program in women's studies. Following national trends, it is expected
that many students will pursue women's and gender studies along with another
major, allowing students to benefit from an undergraduate experience that
integrates complementary skills from across the college and campus, Linker
In addition, students will have an opportunity to gain the knowledge
and analytical tools for effective leadership on gender equity issues
in metropolitan Detroit and the world, according to Suzanne Bergeron,
associate professor of women's studies and social sciences, and director
of UM-Dearborn's Women in Learning
and Leadership program.
"Due to the changing nature of the U.S. workforce, corporations
are looking for managers and personnel directors who have sensitivity
to issues such as sexual harassment, flex-time, parental leave, and pay
equity," Bergeron said. "Social service agencies that serve
women are growing, thus increasing demand for graduates with specializations
in women's and gender studies. There is also a demand for expertise on
gender issues in fields such as law, teaching, counseling, medicine, and
"The commitment to a coherent curriculum focused on the connections
between gender and other forms of difference and power, especially along
race and ethnicity and class lines, is crucial in the Detroit metropolitan
area, which has been cited in research as one of the most racially segregated
communities in the U.S.," she said. "The establishment of major
in women's and gender studies acknowledges the legitimacy of gender-based
scholarship not only within the program itself, but will encourage such
inquiry throughout the University through collaborations between disciplines
For more information about the new degree program, contact the women's
studies office at 593-1391.