College of Letters and Sciences


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 “Resources” 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.

Contact us

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

Jeanne Quevedo
Department Assistant
Phone: 262-472-1042
Location: Laurentide Hall 4205

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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.

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 1971: “Women in American Culture” taught by Agate Nesaule. 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.

1971   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.

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 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.

Ellie Schemenauer

Ellie C Schemenauer, She/Her/Hers

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

Ashley Barnes-Gilbert

Ashley B Barnes-Gilbert, She/Her/Hers

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

Jessica Walz

Jessica T Walz, She/Her/Hers

Interests: Anthropology, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Feminist Pedagogy

Andrea Romero

Andrea Romero, She/Her/Hers

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

Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith She/Her/Hers

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

Haijian Sun

Jeanne Quevedo

Laurentide 4205

Affiliated Faculty and Staff

Jennifer Anderson she/her/hers, Social Work
James Coons  he/him, History
Yuka Doherty Sociology, Criminology & Anthropology
Kathleen Elliott Educational Foundations  
Deborah Fratz Literature, Writing, & Film
Anna Hajdik Literature, Writing, & Film
Richard Hanson College of Integrated Studies
Yunsun Huh Economics
Donald Jellerson Literature, Writing, & Film
Margo Kleinfeld Geography and Geology
Crista Lebens She* or no pref, Philosophy & Religious Studies
Olivia McLaughlin Sociology, Criminology & Anthropology
Krista McQueeneyshe/her/hers, Sociology, Criminology & Anthropology
Pilar Melero Race & Ethnic Studies and Literature, Writing, & Film
Erica Moulton Literature, Writing, and Film
Kimberly Nath   she/her/hers, History
Adam Paddock History
Kristen Prock she/her/hers Social Work
John Pruitt College of Integrated Studies
Jennifer Thibodeaux History

There are numerous scholarship opportunities available to students, both through the university, the College of Letters and Sciences and the Women and Gender Studies. To make life a little easier, all of the university's scholarship applications and requirement listings are available online.

  • Edie Thornton Scholarship
  • Dr. Ernella Hunziker Scholarship
  • Tom Affholder LGBT Leadership Award
  • Gender and LGBTQ Studies Scholarship

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

Student Organizations

Check out the facebook sites of several student organizations our students are involved in!

A person with pink hair reads at the front of class.
Women's and Gender Studies Major/Emphasis, Minor, Certificate (Undergraduate)
Major/Emphasis, Minor, Certificate (Undergraduate)

Understand how gender and sexuality intersect with race, class, ability and other identities to shape people’s everyday lives, institutions and global communities. The Women's and Gender Studies program works to help bridge differences and empower students to become self-reflective agents of social justice.