College of Letters & Sciences

Women's & Gender Studies


Women’s and Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary field where we study and question how gender and sexuality intersect with race, class, ability, and other identities to shape everyday lives, institutions, and global communities. Through a dynamic combination of coursework, internship opportunities, and community engagement, we empower students to become engaged citizens and self-reflective agents of social justice. This field of study provides a variety of important skill sets and career opportunities, ranging from intercultural competence to dynamic critical thinking (to read more about skills, see information linked under the “For Students” tab). Whether you take one class or choose a major, Women’s and Gender Studies will transform your perspective, turning you into a life-long learner, with extensive experience in complex problem solving and analytical thinking.  

The Department of Women’s and Gender Studies offers a major, minor, and 3 different certificate options: Women’s and Gender Studies Certificate, LGBTQ* Studies Certificate, and Diversity Leadership Certificate.

Why Women's and Gender Studies?

What will you learn?

Women’s and Gender Studies will push you to be a critical thinker. The field challenges what you think you know and asks you to analyze systems of power in your personal lives and in the broader world. As you advance in WGS, you will develop skills to recognize, deconstruct, and challenge intersectional systems of power. These experiences will turn you into a life-long learner, with extensive experience in complex problem solving and analytical thinking. 

At UWW, Women’s and Gender Studies instructors will provide you ample opportunities to express your thoughts verbally and in writing. Our courses are laboratories for you to practice and grow your communication skills, gaining critical feedback from our instructors.

In our classes, students are constantly asked to self-reflect on their social locations, learning processes, and take-aways. Scholars and students not only challenge the status quo in WGS but also elitism in knowledge production more generally. Students come away  celebrating their own voices while simultaneously reflecting on their privileges so that they can become more self-aware and responsible citizen scholars.  By amplifying important and necessary voices that have been silenced, WGS students are active in ensuring the integrity of “what we know.” Beyond the practical critical thinking skills afforded by a college education, our students emerge as  confident, thoughtful and ready to engage with challenges in their personal and public lives.

Studying Women’s and Gender Studies affords you the opportunity to become increasingly competent in diversity and inclusion. In our classrooms, you will be challenged to reflect on your own social location and how to thoughtfully interact with those whose experiences are different than yours. Our classrooms are a laboratory for diversity education—a safe space for you to challenge yourself to become more inclusive of others and feel welcomed in a college classroom, no matter your background.

What will you experience?

Women’s and Gender Studies instructors are trained in inclusive pedagogy. We care deeply about student learning, ensuring the inclusivity of our classrooms, and investing in our student’s success. We deploy high impact practices in our classrooms to help you, utilizing applied learning activities, multiple types of writing activities, research projects, service learning, and internships. When you declare a Women’s and Gender studies major, minor, or certificate, you will gain invested mentors from our department who will help you thrive at UWW.

Dr. Ellie Schemenauer and Dr. Ashley Barnes-Gilbert are two core instructors in Women’s and Gender Studies at UWW and the main advisors for the department. Click on their pictures to contact them.

  • Dr. Ellie Schemenauer and Dr. Ashley Barnes-Gilbert:

Ellie- Why I teach Ashley-Why I teach

Inclusive Student and Faculty Community

  • As several student testimonials indicate, WGS is an incredible community of students, faculty, and staff. From our classrooms to our everyday lives, we work to build an inclusive community where all are welcome to grow, learn, heal, and work together.

WGS community

What will you gain?

Check out our different career and skill sheets under the “for students” section!

Student testimonials on career paths:

  • “Everything I learned from WGS I took with me to grad school at Texas A&M University. Being familiar with reading, analyzing, and applying theory gave me a leg up when it came to diving into graduate level coursework.” Shelby Fosco, 2017 graduate 
  • “The WGS department has not only shaped who I am as a scholar, but also as a citizen on this earth, and that​'s something I'll forever be grateful for.” - Nicole Chernohorsky, 2020 graduate
  •  “If not for this department, I would not have discovered my passion for social justice. As a proud minor of WGS, we are important.” --Becca Stolp, 2020 graduate 
  • “Earning my degree in WGS felt like a rebirthing process. I learned about the ideas and systems that contributed to my trauma and pain and was able to heal and grow with new understandings about myself and others. My physical being changed too, I began to hold my head up high, look people in the eyes when I engaged with them, and speak clearly with conviction. I learned to question everything and determine what my views and beliefs were instead of doubtlessly accepting what I was being taught. I learned how to advocate for myself and found validity in my existence. WGS was life-altering. It has been paramount to my overall success and I will forever be looking forward to how it applies to my future and the world around me.”--Savannah Mulrooney, 2018 graduate 

What can you do with it?

Here is a list of some of the careers our graduates are pursuing: 


* Social worker

* Anti-violence educator and advocate

* Community counselor

* Addiction counselor

* Doctor

* Sales representative 

* Human resource administrator 

* Intake clerk

* Entrepreneur

* Musician

* Educator

* Manager 

* Librarian 

* Non-profit coordinator 

* Reproductive health advocate 

* Rape Crisis Counselor 

* Academic Advisor

* University Housing Complex Director 

* Social Justice Fellow 

* LGBTQ Coordinator 

* Women’s Center Coordinator 


For more information, check out our career and skill sheets under the “for students” section!

Contact Us

Ellie Schemenauer
Department Chair & Associate Professor 
Phone: 262-472-2872
Location: Laurentide Hall 4231

History of the Department

Agate- history pageRuth- History pageAt the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Women’s and Gender Studies began as just one course in 1968: “Women in American Culture” taught by Agate Nesuale. After shepherding this course through the curriculum committee and teaching it for a few years, Dr. Nesuale attended a national conference to discuss the inclusion of women and feminism in university curriculum. Upon her return to UW-Whitewater, she found a ready group of colleagues, including department cofounder Ruth Schauer, excited about the possibility of women’s and gender studies at UW-Whitewater. They started meeting once a month for feminist picnics, building a community and plan for a new women’s and gender studies department. Dr. Nesuale and Dr. Schauer divided the labor of founding the department, creating new courses and carefully proposing them to the university curriculum committee. Dr. Schauer noted that “every course was hard fought.” Obtaining funding was always a challenge for the program, resulting in some humorous anecdotes including the time an earlier Chancellor of UWW joked about funding the department through vending machine change. Over more than 40 years, UWW Women’s and Gender Studies has grown from one course to a dynamic department with a major, minor, and several certificates.  We celebrate the tenacity of our founding mothers with every new student who passes through our courses, gaining transformative insights, skills, and perspectives afforded by an intersectional feminist education.

1968   Our first class, Women in American Culture, was taught for the first time.

1974   The Women’s Studies minor was added.

1977   The Women’s Studies program received our first budget of $475.

1978   Our first students graduated with a minor in Women’s Studies.

1983   Women’s Studies gained department status.

1990   The Women’s Studies major was approved.

2013   The department expanded its reach to become “Women’s and Gender Studies."

2020   The LGBTQ Studies Certificate became available.

The mission of the Women’s and Gender Studies department is to encourage and support student, staff, and faculty learning, teaching, research and outreach activities that address the historical and persistent realities of multiple enmeshed oppressions based on gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, sexuality, ability status and so on. As an interdisciplinary and global field informed by the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, Women’s and Gender Studies faculty bring expert knowledges to a wide range of social problems, situations and contexts. The Women’s and Gender Studies department works to support diversity efforts on campus, increase diversity awareness, and transform social and institutional practices well beyond its contributions to its own academic programs.

The Women’s and Gender Studies program offers a flexible array of course content through which students can demonstrate mastery of department learning objectives. The many subject areas that students have the opportunity to explore include:

•   Historical and cross cultural studies of gendered identities and lived experiences
•   History of feminist and LGBTQ movements in the U.S. and globally
•   Social justice issues including sexual and gender violence, abolition, environmental justice and workplace inequities
•   Gendered dynamics of globalization, including information about the role of gender and sexuality in the international political economy
•   Gender roles and inequities in such social institutions as the family, schools, the political system and the legal system
•   Gender and queer productions in culture, media and the arts
•   Gendered health, life stage and scientific issues
•   Theoretical frameworks, concepts and ethics in the fields of Women’s and Gender Studies and Queer Studies

Through engagement with such content areas, students should be able to:

1. Identify and critique constructions of gender, gender identity and expression, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic class and sexuality.
2. Understand, recognize, and apply intersectional analysis of power structures shaping gender, race, class, sexuality and more.
3. Understand and reflect on the dynamic relationship among individuals, society, and institutions.
4. Identify, analyze, construct and effectively communicate arguments utilizing evidence.
5. Reflect on and apply lessons for personal, social and professional growth.

Core Faculty,  Staff, and Coordinators

Ellie Schemenauer

Ellie C Schemenauer, She/Her/Hers

Interests: Global Politics and Economy, Security Studies, Feminist Pedagogy

schemene@uww.edu

Ashley Barnes-Gilbert

Ashley B Barnes-Gilbert, She/Her/Hers

Interests: Queer History, Queer/Feminist Theory, and Feminist Pedagogy

barnesea@uww.edu

Jessica Walz

Jessica T Walz, She/Her/Hers

Interests: Anthropology, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Feminist Pedagogy

walzj@uww.edu

Andrea Romero

Andrea Romero, She/Her/Hers

Interests: Stem Education, Feminist Biological Sciences, and Environmental Justice

romeroa@uww.edu

Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith She/Her/Hers

Interests: Poetry and Nonfiction Writing, Feminist Theory, and Competency-Based Education

smithlb@uww.edu

Stephanie Selvick

Stephanie Selvick, She/Her/Hers

Interests: Postcolonial Studies, Queer Theory, World Literature

selvicks@uww.edu

Affiliated Faculty and Staff

Jennifer Anderson she/her/hers, Social Work
Erin Bauer   she/her/hers, Music
James Coons  he/him, History
Melissa Deller Sociology, Criminology, & Anthropology
Holly Denning Sociology, Criminology, & Anthropology
Kathleen Elliott Educational Foundations  
Deborah Fratz Languages & Literatures
Anna Hajdik Languages & Literatures
Richard Hanson College of Integrated Studies
Tracy Hawkins she/her/hers, Philosophy & Religious Studies
Yunsun Huh Economics
Donald Jellerson Languages & Literatures
Margo Kleinfeld Geography and Geology
Crista Lebens She* or no pref, Philosophy & Religious Studies
Meredith McFadden Philosophy and Religious Studies
Krista McQueeneyshe/her/hers, Sociology, Criminology, & Anthropology
Pilar Melero Race & Ethnic Studies and Languages & Literatures
Kimberly Nath   she/her/hers, History
Adam Paddock History
John Pruitt College of Integrated Studies
Susan Stredulinsky  she/her/hers, College of Integrated Studies  
Jennifer Thibodeaux History
Akiki Yoshida Sociology, Criminiology, & Anthropology

Women's and Gender Studies students are strongly encouraged to make internships part of their regular course work. Students may be involved with internships part time during the school year or during the summer. Among the organizations that have accepted women's and gender studies interns are:

        • National Organization for Women
        • Women and Poverty Initiative
        • Planned Parenthood
        • Equal Employment Opportunities Commission
        • YWCA Alternatives of Janesville
        • Beloit Domestic Violence Center
        • Big Brothers/Sisters Program
        • New Beginnings
        • Boys and Girls clubs of Janesville
        • United Community Center (UCC)
        • Watertown Memorial Hospital
        • World Financial Group
        • Head Start / Early Head Start
        • YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee
        • Elks / Easter Seals Respite Camp
        • Easter Seals Wisconsin

Edie Thornton Scholarship - Women's and Gender Studies students are eligible for the Edie Thornton Scholarship, which emphasizes strong academic performance and an abiding interest in women writers.  The scholarship was created to honor Edie Thornton, who was a vibrant and committed teacher and scholar in Women's Studies and English. It is designated for students majoring and/or minoring in English and/or Women's Studies.

Women's and Gender Studies students may also be interested in the following scholarships:

Dr. Ernella Hunziker Scholarship - Female returning students are eligible for the Ernella Hunziker Scholarship.  Students must be full or part time, at least 24 years old, working towards their first undergraduate degree, and have completed 45 or more credits, of which a minimum of 12 credits were completed at UW-W.

Tom Affholder LGBT Leadership Award - This scholarship was established by Michael Mitchell, a 1970 UW-Whitewater graduate in Secondary Education in memory of his partner Tom Affholder.  The award is made to students who provide volunteer leadership to LGBT organizations on campus.

Dr. Carol A. Cartwright Women in Leadership Scholarship - The purpose of this scholarship is to encourage and celebrate the leadership activities of female students at UW-Whitewater who have demonstrated leadership potential as exhibited by their campus and community involvement.

Gender and LGBTQ Studies Scholarship - This joint scholarship across the Women's and Gender Studies Department and PB Poorman Pride Center honors a student who has demonstrated excellence and commitment to the academic fields of Women's and Gender and/or LGBTQ Studies. Recipients demonstrate excellence in one of three categories: academic distinction, significant advocacy, or personal resilience.

Contact Us

Ellie Schemenauer
Department Chair & Associate Professor 
Phone: 262-472-2872
Location: Laurentide Hall 4231

WGS Consortium
Women's and Gender Studies Consortium