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Eastern Offers Women's and Gender Studies Major

Women Gender Studies.jpgNinety-two years ago this month, the U.S. Congress ratified the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Today, women are mayors of cities, governors of states, CEOs at major corporations and leaders of universities. They run for president and vice president of the United States, vote in more presidential elections than men and graduate from college in higher numbers than men, including at Eastern Connecticut State University. Yet women still only earn 77 cents to every dollar that men earn in the workplace. To help students better understand the historical factors that impact the status of gender in America, and the means by which women and other social groups have tried to achieve equality, Eastern is offering a new major in Women and Gender Studies, available to all students beginning this fall semester.

 "We've been working on this major for three years, an effort that begun under the former director, Marcia McGowan. To be the first in the state to have this major?  It's exciting," said English Professor Maureen McDonnell, who began serving as director of Women's and Gender Studies in fall 2011. "We will be able to offer students a quality academic program in gender studies," said McDonnell, who earned her doctorate in English and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan before she began working at Eastern. "Given Eastern's commitment to the liberal arts and to undergraduate education, it is fitting that Eastern is the only public Connecticut college offering a degree in Women's and Gender Studies. In this academic field, our students learn about the achievements and activism of women and other historically underrepresented groups as they consider the ways in which gender and other identities shape social experiences in a liberal arts context."

"Empowering our students to lead socially responsible lives in an increasingly diverse society is a fundamental element of Eastern's liberal arts mission," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "How gender impacts our personal and social experiences is an important part of the dialog on our campus, and the new Women and Gender Studies program will enhance our culture of respect and inclusion.  Promoting leadership roles for women in our society is especially important on a campus where 54 percent of the students are women. The fact that the program is being offered by faculty across several academic disciplines is also appropriate for our liberal arts campus. I look forward to the discussions of social justice and equity that will take place as a result of this new program."

For more information about Eastern's new major in Women and Gender Studies, contact Maureen McDonnell at mcdonnellm@easternct.edu or call (860) 465-4570.

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