DENTON, Texas – The University of North Texas (NT) offers women’s studies as an undergraduate minor and as a Master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, but now women’s studies will become a new major in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“We have a very active minor with 100 students, and there are currently three Master’s degree students. A women’s studies major is the next logical step,” said Dr. Sandra Spencer, director of the women’s studies program at NT.
The minor program will aim to foster understanding of the diversity of women’s lives by teaching about race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, age and how gender discrimination affects the female experience.
Dr. Spencer and other women’s studies faculty are in the process of having the women’s studies program become its’ own field at NT. No other college in the North Texas area has a women’s studies program. TWU currently has a doctoral program for women’s studies but no major.
Dr. Spencer began considering this possibility two years ago, and has since amassed a large amount of paperwork, support, and enthusiasm from NT faculty.
“What we really need to get this pushed through are more faculty associated with the women’s studies program, and more funding,” said Dr. Spencer.
“I think it is important to better understand the issues women face in society on a daily basis. There are many corporations that still see women as inferior to men,” Randi-Kay Foy, a sociology senior said.
“There is gender inequality all over the place, especially when it comes to age. The amount of pressure from the media and society to be thin and look young is unconscionable,” Spencer said.
Dr. Spencer says that because of the ailing world economy it is more important than ever to learn about the struggles that women face in today’s world.
“There is a myth that you can do anything you set your mind to. No, you can’t. If you’re a single mother, who is going to pay the rent? Who is going to walk the dog?” Dr. Spencer said passionately. “Gender equality is a crusade for me.”
“It would be good if women’s studies was offered as a major because there are so many areas in the workforce that deal with minorities as well as women,” said Imelda Garcia, a social science junior.
While enthusiastic about the idea, Garcia worries about the practicality of such a major. “I am not sure that there are many careers or jobs that would take it seriously, Garcia said.
Currently the women’s studies program is getting letters of support from potential employers for students with this degree, such as Planned Parenthood, companies dealing with women’s health, domestic violence, and especially nonprofit organizations.
Dr. Spencer wants women to have the “confidence and courage to seek more, and to feel that they are appreciated for what they do.” Dr. Spencer says that when women’s studies becoming a major will be a step in the right direction.