Woman’s StudiesWoman’s studies are at its most basic an examination of the experiences of women. The field place women in the center of inquiry and study. It is important to note that the study is by and for women. Woman are not treated as objects of study but as subjects of study. The field assumes that gender is a central aspect of society and tries to explore and define what it means to be a man or woman in today’s society.
In the early sixties it was noticed for the first time the lack or misrepresentation of women in college curriculum. With the increasing Woman’s Movement, there came more demand for women on campus, both in the curriculum’s and in the departments. Two approaches emerged from these efforts. The first was to add women to the existing curriculum, while keeping the rest of the curriculum basically intact. The second approach was to seriously challenge the curriculum and also created new programs of study. People began questioning the nature of knowledge and how it seemed to enforce male privilege and power. It was from this second approach that woman’s studies emerged as a discipline .
It offered a perspective that reflects women’s lives and concerns. In many ways the woman’s movement have helped and influenced the discipline of woman’s studies. Indeed the discipline of woman’s studies is sometimes considered the academic wing of the women’s movement. Two important aspects were that of the movement’s commitment to personal and societal change. The movement allowed women to ask questions about being a woman in today’s society. This simple line of thought led to many ideas that have become central to woman’s studies. Woman of this time also coined the phrase ‘the personal is political.’ This helped explain how individual ideas stack together to become the fabric of society.
While the discipline of woman’s studies has advanced far from its humble origins of classes taught by professors in their spare time, it continues to help define women in modern society.