History and Mission
The Center for Women's Studies and Gender Research offers an interdisciplinary forum for the study of gender, its function in cultures and societies, and its intersection with race and class. Feminist and other theoretical approaches and methodologies are employed.
In a regular colloquium series, faculty and invited speakers present their research or creative endeavors to the public. An annual retreat facilitates mentoring and networking for women faculty and professional staff. The Center distributes a semi-annual newsletter and an occasional update focusing on gender studies.
Students may major in Women's Studies through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The BA program has three areas of concentration for students to choose from. A minor in Women's Studies and a minor in Theories and Politics of Sexuality are also available. The Graduate Certificate in Women's Studies for master's and doctoral students is offered in conjunction with degree programs. The Center offers Master of Arts (thesis) and Master of Women's Studies (non-thesis) degrees.
Presently, the Center offers seven courses with the WST prefix per semester. In addition, close to forty courses per semester in other disciplines count for our gender studies degrees or certificate.
- To offer University of Florida students a broad-based, interdisciplinary approach to the study of gender
- To stimulate individual and collaborative research by UF faculty engaged in the study of gender issues
- To create contexts in which students, teachers, counselors, and administrators, working together, can contribute to the understanding of cultural expectations related to gender issues and multicultural diversity
- To furnish services related to gender issues to the local community as well as to the State of Florida, and to increase national and international collaboration on gender and women's issues
- To increase equity and efficiency in the university community
A Brief History
The Women's Studies Program was authorized in 1977. The Women's Studies Director until her retirement in 1986 was Irene Thompson, Associate Professor, Department of English. An undergraduate certificate in Women's Studies was instituted. Occasional speakers were invited (such as Gloria Steinem and Flo Kennedy). The core course (WST 3010), Interdisciplinary Perspectives of Women, was approved.
From 1985 to 1989, the director was Constance Shehan, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology. More courses counting for Women's Studies were designated in departments and additional faculty members teaching from a gender perspective became affiliate faculty members to the Women's Studies Program. Occasional speakers were invited. The Interdisciplinary B.A. in Women's Studies was initiated.
From 1989 to 1991, the director was Linda Wolfe, Associate Professor on half-time release from the Department of Anthropology. She started the Women's Studies newsletter, fundraising, and the colloquium series. A major symposium took place in 1990. The Interdisciplinary B.A. in Women's Studies was approved in 1990.
From 1991 to 1995, Helga Kraft, Associate Professor, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages was the director. The Women's Studies office houses the Women's Studies art gallery which features semi-annual exhibitions in a series titled "Women Artists at UF." A major conference or symposium per year is also sponsored. The Women's Studies minor passed in 1992. Starting in Fall 1993, Women's Studies received a floating line for its director. In 1993, Women's Studies added eight courses (with a WST prefix), appointed a visiting professor and adjunct faculty as well as graduate assistants. The Women's Studies Graduate Certificate Program was approved in Summer 1993.
In 1994, the Women's Studies Program became a Type II Center and was renamed the Center for Women's Studies and Gender Research. The Center now enjoys a permanent home in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In 1995, Sue Rosser, Professor, Department of Anthropology with affiliate appointments in Zoology and the College of Medicine, was recruited as director. Helga Kraft became the first jointly-appointed faculty member between Women's Studies and the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures. In May 1995, the Ph.D. concentration in Women's Studies was approved; the Center also took over administering the Graduate Certificate for Gender, Environment, and Agriculture Program (GEAP). Vasudha Narayanan, Professor, Department of Religion, served as Acting Director during Fall 1995 to permit Sue Rosser to finish her term at the National Science Foundation as Senior Program Officer for Women's Programs.
In 1996-97, Cynthia Burack joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor, jointly appointed in Political Science and Women's Studies. In 1997-98, Tace Hedrick joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor, jointly appointed in English and Women's Studies. In 1998-99, Kendal Broad joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor, jointly appointed in Sociology and Women's Studies. During 1998-99, the CWSGR received its first substantial indirect costs from grants, a USAID Grant for $2.4 million (P.I., Sandra Russo) and an NSF grant of $65,000 (P Sue Rosser) to study Professional Opportunities for Women in Research and Education (POWRE).
In 1999, Vasudha Narayanan, Professor, Department of Religion, was chosen as interim director for Summer 1999 to Summer of 2000. In 1999, Milagros Peña joined the faculty in Women's Studies and Sociology.
In Fall, 2000, Angel Kwolek-Folland, Professor, Department of History, was recruited as director. In 2001, Assistant Professor Stacey Langwick joined the Center faculty with a joint appointment in Anthropology, and in 2002 the program celebrated its 25th anniversary with a major symposium focusing on research on women and gender at the University of Florida. Additionally, the Master of Arts and the Master of Women's Studies were approved in 2001 with the Center's first graduate students entering in the Fall 2002 semester.
In Spring 2003, Ntozake Shangé, poet and playwright, joined the faculty as a Visiting Professor in Women's Studies to teach a course called "Global Feminisms." Professor Shangé, inventor of the choreopoem, has written numerous plays and poems including the celebrated for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf- a choreopoem (1975).
In Fall 2003, the Center admitted its first Bachelor of Arts students. The Center's first M.A. student graduated in the Spring of 2004.
In Fall 2004, Patricia (Trysh) Travis joined the faculty as a fully appointed Assistant Professor in Women's Studies. Dr. Travis brings expertise on masculinities to the Center. In Spring, 2005, Florence Babb, Professor, joined the Women's Studies faculty as the Vada Allen Yeomans' Professor of Women's Studies. Additionally, in Spring 2005, Milagros Peña was named Director of the Center.
In Fall 2005, Ana S.Q. Liberato joined the Center faculty as a visiting Assistant Professor.