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Dr. Susan Sage Heinzelman, Director 2505 University Avenue, A4900, Burdine Hall 536, Austin Texas 78712 • 512-471-5765

Center for Women's and Gender Studies

about cwgs


About CWGS

Despite numerous legal and social advances over the last several decades, women continue to face disparities in educational attainment and career advancement relative to men. Women remain significantly underrepresented across numerous professions.

Started by a handful of faculty and students in 1979, CWGS now has over two hundred and fifty faculty affiliates, several degree programs, and hundreds of students who participate in our programs. We have a growing national reputation in the women's and gender studies community.

Understanding the barriers to women’s success and creating programs that promote women’s leadership requires good gender studies research and the presence of strong role models within universities. The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin is dedicated to closing the leadership gap through a variety of initiatives that:

  • Promote groundbreaking interdisciplinary research in the study of women and gender
  • Support undergraduate women students in their pursuit of leadership
  • Assist women faculty so that they may succeed in their chosen fields and serve as mentors and role models for their students
By offering a wide variety of programs and events that allow our faculty, students and community members to share their experience and expertise, CWGS creates a learning and research environment that is responsive to the lives and concerns of the people in our community.

We recognize that ending gender discrimination requires ending the related discriminations against disability, ethnicity, gender identity, race, sexuality, and socioeconomic class. In support of our vision, we generate interdisciplinary educational spaces for faculty, students, and community members to create alliances across difference and together to imagine new possibilities. Four core projects enact this practice:

Faculty Development Program Supports and showcases the work of newly hired faculty working in the interdisciplinary field of Women’s & Gender Studies;

Embrey Critical Human Rights Initiative Generates and supports projects to create an educational culture for gender and racial justice;

INSPIRE: Empowering Texas Women Leaders Three-year program (sophomore through senior) that engages undergraduate women at a personal level by addressing goal setting, hands-on experiences, and observation;

NEW Leadership™ Texas  A week-long residential program that gives college women the knowledge and skills to become effective leaders in politics, public policy and public service.

A Brief History of Women's and Gender Studies at UT

Patricia Kruppa began teaching the first classes focusing primarily on women and women's and gender issues in 1972. In 1978, B.J. Fernea and Betty Sue Flowers approached Vice President William Livingston about creating a Women's Studies program, and later gathered a group of faculty to work out a curriculum.

In Summer 1979, the AD HOC Committee for Women's Studies submitted a proposal to Robert King, Dean of Liberal Arts. Professor Fernea agreed to be the group coordinator, and the first WS seminar, "Sexuality among the Anthropologists and Reproduction among the Natives," was offered in Fall 1979.

In spring 1983, several departments recognize Women's Studies as an appropriate minor field. A version of a Women's Studies concentration was created in spring 1986, but would not be approved until Fall 1987. In spring 1990, the number of faculty affiliates had grown to 60 people. A doctoral portfolio in Women's Studies was the first doctoral portfolio approved.

The Master's degree in Women's and Gender Studies was approved and began in Fall 2001.

In January 2007, the Bachelor's of Arts degree in Women's and Gender Studies was approved.

In Fall 2007, the first dual degree with WGS was approved - Master of Arts with a Major in Women's and Gender Studies/Master of Science in Information Studies.

In Fall 2008, a second dual degree program was approved - Master of Arts in Women's and Gender Studies (MA) and the Master of Public Affairs in the LBJ School (MPAff).

In Fall 2013, the College of Liberal Arts Policy and Curriculum Committee approved an Undergraduate Certificate in LGBTQ/Sexualities Studies. A transcript-recognized undergraduate certificate program is a set of courses that allows a student to focus on an area of study in addition to the major. The LGBTQ/Sexualities Studies Certificate recognizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) scholarship and acknowledges widespread faculty expertise in this field. Also a new LGBTQ/Sexualities Studies Track in-house certificate was awarded by the Women's & Gender Studies Portfolio Program.

In Spring 2014, a Transcript-Recognized Minor in Women's and Gender Studies was proposed (pending final approval)

Directors of Women's and Gender Studies

1978-1979 B.J. Fernia and Betty Sue Flowers
1980-1982 Patricia Kruppa
1983-1985 Jane Marcus
1985-1987 Teresa Sullivan
1987-1991 Laura Lein
1991-1993 Susan Marshall
1993-1994 Laura Lein
1994-1999 Lucia Gilbert
1999-2001 Desley Deacon
2001-2004 Janet Staiger
2004-2008 Gretchen Ritter
2008-2012 Susan Sage Heinzelman

Mission Statement

The mission of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (CWGS) is to create committed communities that address the challenges faced in the areas of gender, sexuality, diversity, and equity.
We foster these communities inside and outside The University of Texas at Austin through:

  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Undergraduate and graduate teaching
  • Social advocacy 
  • Community partnerships

Vision Statement    

To be a world-class center for interdisciplinary research, teaching, and activism in women’s and gender studies.

The students, professors, and community members who participate in our programs explore a wide variety of topics and issues such as the causes of breast cancer, the role of marriage in men's and women's health, women's citizenship and constitutional rights in the US, changing sex roles in Mexico, and the contributions of women writers and artists in different historical periods and places.

CWGS also works closely with other interdisciplinary programs and research centers on campus. Examples include the ethnic studies centers (the Centers for Asian American Studies, African and African American Studies, and Mexican American Studies), various area studies center (the Centers for European Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies, as well as the Institute of Latin American Studies), other research centers (the Center for Health Promotion Research and the Population Research Center), and student centers (the Women's Resource Center, and the Gender and Sexuality Center).

Interested students, faculty, and community members are invited to contact us to find out more about our courses, programs, and events. 

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