Women's and gender studies grew out of the women's movement in the 1970s, a period when many students and faculty began to address the sexism they saw in the academy by volunteering to develop courses, forums, and conferences on issues pertinent to women.
Almost forty years later and with over 600 programs nationwide, women's and gender studies is a thriving academic discipline, which puts women at the center of study—their cultures, contributions, and perspectives. Women's and gender studies is defined by what is taught, how questions are asked and explored, and often, how the subject is taught. A common misconception is that women's and gender studies is just for women—it is not. It is a program of study for all genders—it is about women, but not solely for women. In addition, any women's and gender studies program is, by nature, interdisciplinary and encourages connections among different academic departments.
In 1994, a tenure-track position in English with emphasis in Women's Studies was created in the Department of Language, Literature, and Communication (now known as English and Foreign Languages), the first such position on campus. Dr. Sian Mile was hired to fill this position, and in 1996, the Women's Studies Initiative Committee was established to direct interest and head curriculum efforts in women's studies at ASU. Dr. Mile chaired this committee comprised of faculty from disciplines across the campus. The Women's Studies Student Association, a student-run organization was formed in 1997 to address women's issues both on and off campus. The WSSA was very active in gathering signatures in favor of a women's studies program at ASU; the organization collected 400 signatures in favor of establishing a minor at ASU. In September 1998, a Women's Studies Minor was approved and established at ASU, and we became one of the almost 20 women's studies program in Georgia. In 2014 the program was renamed to Women's and Gender Studies to reflect our expanded emphasis beyond women's studies to issues regarding gender and sexuality as well.
Our minor offers courses from English and Foreign Languages, Communications, History and Anthropology, Criminal Justice, and Sociology.