Benefits undergraduate and graduate students
Monday, January 28, 2013

The Department of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies (GWSS) in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences may be only three years old, but it’s already proving an interdisciplinary dynamo, using education and outreach to prepare students for a variety of 21st-century careers and to improve the lives of Iowans—particularly those marginalized because of their gender, sexual orientation, race, or class.

To support the scholarship and public engagement that are central to its mission, GWSS is now accepting applications to its three student scholarships: the Adele Kimm Scholarship ($1,500; to be awarded to an accomplished undergraduate), the Adah Johnson/Otilia Maria Fernandez Scholarship ($2,000; to be awarded to a graduate student committed to issues relevant to women of color), and the Jane A. Weiss Memorial Dissertation Scholarship ($4,000; awarded to a graduate student writing a dissertation on issues pertaining to women).Applications are due Feb. 8, and all interested, eligible students are invited to apply.

GWSS has its origins in both the Women’s Studies program, which was founded at the UI in 1974 as one of the first programs of its kind in the United States, and the Sexuality Studies program, created in 1998 following a presidential task force on the campus environment for gay and lesbian members of the UI community. The two programs merged in 2010, and today the department offers an undergraduate major and minor, as well as a graduate certificate.

Taking as its mission public engagement, social change, education, and the generation of new knowledge, GWSS trains students to investigate how gender and sexuality shape challenges people face in areas such as the environment, culture and the media, education, violence, and health. For instance, in the department’s popular hands-on practicum course, undergraduate and graduate students work with prisoners and administrators at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women, facilitating weekly circles that help incarcerated women—60 at last count—better understand healthy relationships, sexual health, and gender violence. Students in another GWSS course learn how to write op-ed pieces related to human rights issues, so as to inform their fellow Iowans about current issues and events.

GWSS majors enter fields as varied as research, advocacy, policy, government and nonprofit agencies, human resources, fundraising, counseling, education, publishing, and international development. Many graduates also enter graduate and professional schools in fields such as women's and gender studies, history, anthropology, law, public health, business, and journalism.

GWSS faculty regularly serve on state and national panels that work to address pressing problems at home and abroad, including a National Academy of Science panel to develop new standards for national surveys of rape and sexual assault, a U.S. Census panel charged with devising measurement tools for enumerating same-sex families in the U.S., and review panels for the National Science Foundation. They are also frequent consultants and expert witnesses for legal cases, including the suit that led to the historic 2009 Iowa Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

To learn more, visit the Department of Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies Web site.