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Devoted to undergraduate education, we prepare majors and minors in WGST to become innovators in fields ranging from law and medicine to health, education, policy and politics, technology, advertising, media, and the arts. We are committed to hearing and amplifying the voices of the marginalized, interrogating and challenging heteropatriarchal white supremacy in all its manifestations, and working, as the UNC mission statement declares, “to improve society to help solve the world’s greatest problems.” As a multi-disciplinary department with faculty representing the arts, humanities, and social sciences, we are uniquely positioned to prepare undergraduates at UNC for leadership positions in wide range of fields as they pursue careers that engage with civil society. Through our Women in Science Program, we also seek to expand participation in science to members of historically excluded groups.


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A History of Women’s & Gender Studies

SPRING 1872

Sallie Walker Stockard becomes the first woman to graduate from UNC.

Sallie Walker Stockard

SUMMER 1877

Women begin enrolling in UNC for summer classes.

1896

Half a dozen women enrolled at UNC in the undergraduate program.

1896 women enrolled at UNC in the undergraduate program. Seated: Lucy Forsyth, Paddy Wall, Ginny Pearce, Nancy Adams, Louise Crumbley, Lillian Weller. Standing: Clerks
- Jan Cobbs, Jane Rhae White, Sue Donisthorpe.

1941

Susan Grey Akers becomes dean of the UNC School of Library Science.

Susan Grey Akers

1951

Gwendolyn Harrison becomes the first African-American woman to attend UNC.

Gwendolyn Harrison Student ID

1965

Karen Parker becomes the first female African-American graduate from UNC, receiving a degree in Journalism.

Karen Parker

MARCH 3RD, 1970

The student group Female Liberation issues a list of demands I one of which calls for “inclusion of courses for and about women in the curriculum.”

Historic Document of Female Liberation List of Demands to UNC

SPRING 1972

Margaret Anne O’Connor teaches the first course on Women in Literature.

Margaret Anne O’Connor

FEBRUARY 27TH, 1973

The University Women for Affirmative Action organizes with the goal of ending iscrimination based on gender at UNC.

1974

An ad hoc committee is established for the Women’s Studies Program.

APRIL 1975

The Chancellor’s committee approves of the creation of a Women’s Studies Program.

JULY 2ND, 1976

Mary Turner Lane agrees to serve as the first Director of the Women’s Studies Program.

Mary Turner Lane

SPRING 1977

The Women’s Studies curriculum begins offering courses. Women’s Studies is offered as an area of concentration under the Interdisciplinary Studies major.

1978

Joan Scott and Mary Turner Lane develop the first Women’s Studies Course, Women’s Studies 50, an “Introduction to Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Gender.” Scott was the first to teach a Women’s Stuc:lies Class at UNC.

Joan Scott

SUMMER 1978

The Association for Women’s Faculty is formed to “promote intellectual and social contact among women faculty members.”

Association for Women Faculty & Professionals Logo

1979

Sandra Jo Martin from Elkin, NC, is the first graduate in the Women’s Studies Major. Martin was the editor of She and an intern with the Council on the Status of Women.”

1981

Jane De-Hart Mathews is chosen as Turner’s successor and becomes full-time director of the Women’s Studies Program.

Jane De-Hart Mathews

1982

The Duke-UNC Center for Research on Women is established with a 225K grant from the Ford Foundation to promote Women’s Studies scholarship, research, and curriculum development in the South.

1988

The Women’s Studies program offers a certificate in Women’s Studies. Many students used this certificate similarly to a minor in other fields in order to include Women’s Studies on their transcript without majoring in the program.

1989-1990

Graduate students at UNC organized the first women’s studies graduate conference called “Women’s Studies in the Triangle.”

JULY 31, 1992

The UNC System Board of Governors approved the independent Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies as a full-fledged curriculum (a B.A. degree in Women’s Studies). Students could now major in Women’s Studies.

1994

A graduate minor in Women’s Studies established.

MARCH 4TH, 1996

The Women’s Studies department celebrated its 20th anniversary.

2004

The Women’s Studies program begins offering a minor in Sexuality Studies.

JULY 1ST, 2012

The Department of Women’s Studies becomes the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.

2022

The Department of Women’s and Gender Studies has 9 full-time faculty members and has graduated 402 majors and minors!

footer images of students, faculty, and staff of women's and gender studies