By Nicole Noland
Choosing a major is probably the most important part of a college education. The final commitment to a degree program can seem overwhelming and stressful. That’s okay, because it IS overwhelming and stressful! Most college universities offer upwards of 50+ degree programs. That’s fifty different areas of study to concentrate on, not even including minors or concentrations! It’s normal to feel torn or indecisive.
Luckily, many freshman curriculums require multiple courses in drastically different areas of study. Students can get a snack-sized experience in each department before choosing to commit. I was fortunate enough to enroll in a Women’s and Gender Studies course, almost on a fluke, during my freshman experience. It left enough of an impression on me that I chose to stick with it, and graduated with a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies. Now, as an alumni, I passionately believe that every college student should enroll in at least one Women’s and Gender Studies course at some point in their educational career.
Women’s and Gender Studies is a little-known, but still incredibly valuable, area of study. Wikipedia’s definition (probably the most straightforward and easily understood) of Women’s and Gender Studies is “an interdisciplinary academic field that explores politics, society, media, and history from women's perspective according to feminist perspectives”. As social scientists, Women’s and Gender Studies majors study the way social interactions, norms and structures affect or are affected by gender norms. Why do girls wear pink and boys blue? Why are men expected to never cry or show emotional sensitivity? Is becoming a wife and mother really going to make me feel complete? These are important questions because gender expectations affect everyone! It’s crucial to understand our own culture, and what better way to do that than to study how we interact with one another!
Women’s and Gender Studies courses teach students how to ask questions. They supply us with the skills necessary to think critically about the world around us. Most importantly, a Women’s and Gender Studies education provides us with the knowledge and understanding of what it truly means to break away from socially constructed norms. Women’s and Gender Studies teaches us to ask not only “why” but “what can we do to change this?”.