Women's and Gender Studies Program & Minor

Women's and Gender Studies Program logo

The Women's and Gender Studies (WGS) Program focuses on diversity, social justice and how our beliefs about gender and sexuality shape our personal identities and the world we live in. The program also examines how gender and sexuality intersect with other facets of our identities such as race, class, nationality, ability and age.

WGS draws on many academic disciplines to ask questions about the roles gender and sexuality play in key areas of the human experience: politics, popular culture, religion, science, law, history, art, economics, health, education, citizenship and families.

The Women’s and Gender Studies Program offers a many opportunities for students to discover, engage and transform through the lens of women's and gender issues:

  • Academic minor (below): This 18-credit minor creates an academic foundation for students to develop their ability to critically examine the place of women and gender in culture and society.
  • Grants: WGS offers grants to students and faculty to support events and projects focused on gender and sexuality.
  • Writing competitions: Annually, WGS awards prizes to student authors of poetry, academic essays, short fiction and personal essays that explore issues of gender, sexuality, and feminist thought and practice.
  • Events/Speakers: WGS brings local and national speakers to the University. Past topics have included marriage equality, activist journalism, gender, race and history, sexual consent, violence and sports, and global feminism.
  • Arts: WGS students can attend plays, films, art exhibitions and other events for free and often have special opportunities to meet and talk with the artists.
  • Social Justice Activism: WGS sponsors activities that promote awareness of important local, national and global issues, support social change, and enable students to contribute their time and talents to causes important to them.

WGS minor

The WGS minor can complement a wide variety of majors in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. The minor is highly flexible and can be tailored to your personal, academic and professional interests. All students take WGS 2000: Gender, Sex, and Justice and choose five additional courses from a range of academic disciplines.

Many WGS courses also fulfill your Detroit Mercy Core Curriculum requirements, so you can earn a WGS minor without taking a lot of extra classes! This is a great option for students with demanding majors or who want to earn more than one minor.

For detailed requirements, see the Women's and Gender Studies Minor in the catalog.

WGS, to: enhance your major; expand your worldview; understand your gender and sexuality; set yourself apart from other job candidates; learn about your relationships; empower yourself as a social activist; find your community; ignite your curiosity and passion; deepen your understanding of human diversity; and prepare yourself to be a global citizen.

The Women's and Gender Studies faculty and program at University of Detroit Mercy have always been firmly committed to issues of social justice, equity, and the recognition and examination of underrepresented and disadvantaged peoples. Drawing upon this commitment, the WGS minor will aid you in your personal integration of fundamental aspects of a fully human experience: your intellect, spirit, ethics, and social development. The minor’s courses will prepare you to seek out and create opportunities for such integration, not just in your own life, but also in your community.

The WGS minor will help you understand differences among the people of the world – differences of race, ethnicity, religion, culture, gender, and class – by teaching you the techniques of critical thinking with which stereotypes and inequalities are exposed. A goal of the WGS minor is by graduation, you will be equipped to pursue and enact beneficial change in yourself and the world.

WGS courses

To find WGS courses offered in the current term, . Courses are diverse, such as this sampling from recent terms:

  • Gender, Sex and Justice (WGS 2000)
  • Diverse Voices in Literature (ENL 2750)
  • Human Sexuality (PYC 2750)
  • Women, Crime and Justice (CJS 4810)
  • Gender in Asian Traditions (RELS 4141)
  • Women in Modern Europe (HIS 3650)
  • Philosophy of Feminism (PHL 3081)
  • Women in Politics (POL 3100)
  • Family Development and Parenting (PYC 2400)
  • Class, Race, and Gender (RELS 3400)
  • Literature and Social Justice (ENL 4510)

What WGS students & alumni like most about the program听

Great Professors
Expanding Their World Views
Variety of Courses
Friendships with Other WGS Students
Becoming Agents for Social Change

Developing as Leaders
Real-World Projects
Shattering Stereotypes
Finding Their Voices
Learning to Speak and Write Powerfully

Affiliated faculty

  • Dawn Archey, Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Kristi DiGioia, Psychology
  • Lee Eshelman, Psychology
  • Lori Glenn, Nursing
  • Amanda Hiber, English
  • Heather Hill, English
  • Camille Howard, Criminal Justice
  • Hsiao-Lan Hu, Religious Studies
  • Janet Joiner, Social Work
  • Genevieve Meyers, Political Science
  • Megan Novell, Women’s and Gender Studies
  • Allegra Pitera, Architecture
  • Stephen Pasqualina, English
  • Gail Presbey, Philosophy
  • Nick Rombes, English
  • Mary Liz Valesano, Performing Arts
  • Rosemary Weatherston, English

For faculty

Women's and gender topics cut across disciplines. Are you a Detroit Mercy faculty member interested in collaborating with the WGS Program? Learn about WGS grant opportunities, standards for WGS courses you may wish to propose, or contact us (above) with any questions.


What are alumni saying?


Rehab Zahid"With the WGS minor, I felt like I was truly learning more about myself as a person. The WGS minor not only challenges you, it makes you reflect on current issues and helps you empathize different perspectives in life.”

— Rehab Zahid ’21
Licensed Phlebotomist, Ford Biomedical Lab; Dental School applicant
Major: Biology | Minor: WGS

Hannah Tillman"I think the best tool I've acquired from this program is the ability to analyze in real time basic intersections of identity and how they are interacting and presenting within a person. In other words, I've been given a Rosetta Stone to facilitate dialogue between different people and different understandings.”

Hannah Tillman ’19
Junior Technical Writer, H20.ai
Majors: English, Psychology | Minor: WGS

Angie"WGS taught me to re-think the ideas I’d been socialized to believe in all my life, especially ideas about gender and sexuality. Rather than accept information at face-value, WGS showed me how to more thoughtfully engage with societal and social structures that have and continue to contribute to oppression as well as it has taught me to potentially find liberation in the midst of it all."

Angie Merila '16
Assistant Editor, History & Sociology, W. W. Norton & Company; New York, NY
Major: Religious Studies | Minor: WGS

Charlotte Rossler

"The WGS program at Detroit Mercy revealed different perspectives, especially women's perspectives, that are not frequently or sometimes ever, addressed in classes. It exposed me to different ways of thinking about the world. I am now more attentive to these alternative perspectives, peoples and struggles."

— Charlotte Rossler '15
Ph.D. Student in History at SUNY Stony Brook
Major: History | Minor: WGS


"The most important thing I got from the WGS program was networking and working professionally with many women of many different strengths. It sped up my emotional-professional intelligence so that I left communicating better with all genders."

— Anjelica Armendariz '10
Community Outreach Coordinator, She\Wellness, Seattle, WA
Major: English | Minor: WGS


"Minoring in WGS opened up a new lens in seeing gender equality and striving so that both genders granted the same rights. Also, it has allowed me to encourage other women, youth and children to understand they are capable of anything as long as they put their heart into it."

— Tracy Gallardo '14
Family Service Worker, Thrive by Five Head Start Program
Major: Social Work | Minor: WGS


"WGS was truly a program that influenced the way I view society, and showed me how we can bring the justice that oppressed communities deserve."

— Johnee Elhaouli '14
Clinical Care Manager, Institute on Aging, San Francisco, CA
Major: Social Work | Minor: WGS