2020 GSWS Diversity Plan
The Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program is one of the first interdisciplinary programs at William & Mary, and diversity is at the core of our mission. Our goal is to spur students to explore questions about society, the humanities, and the sciences, by challenging perspectives in which women are absent or peripheral; critically examining cultural assumptions about gender, race, class, ethnicity, and sexual orientation; and providing opportunities for students to apply the knowledge they gain from the classroom as they move through the world.
In the following diversity plan, for various aspects, we assess where we are, where we would like to go, and how we plan to get there.
Where We Are:
GSWS currently has three joint appointments and one full-time senior lecturer, each of whom brings both personal and intellectual diversity to the program in important ways.
Victoria Castillo: offers courses in transnational feminisms, women of color feminisms, Latin American history, and LGBTQ studies
Claire McKinney (joint with Government): offers courses in the politics of reproduction, disability studies, and feminist political theory
Diya Bose (joint with Sociology): will offer courses on gender, sexuality, and the law, intersectionality, and post-colonial sociology.
Jennifer Putzi (joint with English): offers courses on women writers, gender, and transgender studies
In addition to these appointments, there are many faculty members in other departments and programs (History, English, American Studies, Religious Studies, Modern Languages, and Biology, to name just a few) who serve on our Executive Committee or who are affiliated with GSWS. We also work closely with the Law School and the School of Education. We have been working to grow our affiliated faculty by fostering participation in our Brown Bag series, program research display in Swem Library, and other outreach efforts. Where We Would Like to Go and How We Plan to Get There:
Currently, due to the small size of our core faculty, the departure of just one person (either due to a research leave or the acceptance of another position elsewhere) can significantly affect our program. Thus, growing our program is paramount to maintaining and expanding our diversity.
Just as we did with the recent joint appointments with Government and Sociology, the GSWS program member appointed in GSWS who focuses on race and gender; this is a serious gap in our coverage, particularly given the College’s emphasis on diversity.
Another important area involves issues of media representation. Because discussions of depictions of gender and sexuality often benefit from expertise in film and media studies, we arranged for a joint Visiting Assistant Professor with Film and Media Studies beginning in the Fall of 2019 to address these growing needs. Although this was a two-year position, the person we hired found another, more permanent job elsewhere. We had planned on hiring someone to complete the second year of their appointment, but the recent hiring freeze has now rendered this impossible. This area of analysis often entails attention to race, nationality, class, religion, age, and ability, so it is especially important for our diversity planning. We will continue to request this position and hope to have a more permanent joint position providing coverage in the future.
Where We Are:
An informal analysis of recent graduating classes shows that we have a very good level of diversity with regard to sexualities and a reasonable level of diversity with regard to race and ethnicity. While the majority of our majors and minors identify as women, a small percentage identify as men or as transgender. In terms of the non-majors who take our courses, however, approximately one-third to one-fourth identify as male and, relative to other courses on campus, a larger percentage identify as transgender, trans*, genderqueer, gender fluid, or agender.
Where We Would Like to Go and How We Plan to Get There:
By continuing to offer a wide array of courses, by promoting our program across campus, and by offering students an extremely supportive environment in which to work, we hope to attract an ever more diverse population of majors and minors. For example, we have increased our offerings to include courses in in masculinity studies in the 2019-20 academic year, and in the 2018-19 academic year we invited an expert speaker on the topic of black masculinity (Douglas Flowe) to present at an event with a sizeable student turnout.
Where We Are:
The GSWS program through its own courses, and through crosslisted courses across campus, offers a wide array of courses relating to many types of diversity. However, there are concerns that our program could be doing a better job in integrating diversity throughout out curriculum.
During the Fall2015/Spring2016 academic year, two of our majors, through their own initiative, collected data on 39 GSWS courses in order to assess the diversity of the authors of the assigned books in these courses. _20% of the authors were LGBT or gender nonconforming
_8 of the courses explicitly mentioned intersectionality in their descriptions
_14 of the courses explicitly looked at minority identities
In the spring semester of 2018, we revised our major/minor curriculum to ensure that students are encountering issues of diversity and engaging with a diverse group of writers and thinkers in their coursework. While our major/minor requirements had previously asked students to take an equal number of courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences (thereby emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of the program), we now ask students to take one course in each of the following areas: gender and race/ethnicity issues; LGBTQ issues; and gender and international issues.
The Program also revised our GSWS 205, “Introduction to Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies,” course. One of our major emphases in this revision is an emphasis on women of color and LGBTQ feminisms. We successfully implemented these changes to this syllabus in the Fall of 2018.
One unintended consequence of the new Race, Gender, and Ethnicity (GRE) requirement for GSWS majors and minors is that we needed to systematize cross-listing to better cover our course offerings every semester and work with other departments to facilitate new course development initiatives.
As our curriculum committee has worked through the PIE process to prepare for external assessment of our success at achieving specific learning goals, we have developed a rubric about gendered analysis that explicitly mentions knowledge of “race, class, disability, nationality, etc.” as part of our expected outcomes in the area of “gender/sexuality in context,” as well as a rubric about “intercultural knowledge and competence.”
Where We Would Like to Go and How We Plan to Get There
We believe we do a good job of offering diversity-related courses, but given the students’ findings above, there clearly is room for improvement. We recommend taking the following actions. First, continue to collect this course reading data every few years and look for ways to diversify the readings when reasonable. Second, add a question to the GSWS course evaluation: “Did the course meet our program’s goal of critically examining cultural assumptions about gender, race, class, ethnicity, and sexual orientation?” Third, we should more actively seek out crosslisted courses that deal with diversity-related issues, as the current model is for instructors to reach out to the program in order to crosslist. Finally, we would like to work toward greater consistency in our course offerings, making sure that certain topics get taught on a regular basis.
Where We Are:
We believe GSWS offers a hospitable climate within our program. In addition, by carrying out events, and Carruthers for the 2020 Minnie Braithwaite lecture to speak about Black queer feminist activism, but unfortunately this event had to be canceled. We plan to teach Carruthers’ work next year to encourage student action research.
We also provide funding to Mosaic House, the campus’ diversity-oriented living/learning community and support LGBT graduates through the Lavender Graduation. Because of the pandemic, however, some of our living and learning opportunities had to be curtailed.
Although COVID-19 limited some of our efforts, we were able to expand offerings in postcolonial intersectional feminism with the hiring of Bose and special speakers such as Jasmeen Patheja of Blank Noise to provide a more welcoming environment for students of color from South Asia. Students interested in gender politics, feminist activism, and transgender studies were also invited to participate in a special Zoom session with Judith Butler to compensate for being unable to attend the Duke Feminist Theory workshop with year.
Where We Would Like to Go and How We Plan to Get There
With regard to climate issues within our program, we would like to assess the opinions of graduating major and minors, perhaps through an end-of-the-year focus group. In such an assessment, we would ask students to be candid about ways in which we could foster an even more hospitable climate with regard to diversity. With regard to improving the overall campus climate, GSWS should increase its profile on campus by sponsoring more events and by offering advice and expertise whenever a hospitable campus climate is threatened. GSWS Core and Affiliate faculty have also served on the English Department Diversity Committee, which has done a large-scale Qualtrics survey that we would like to emulate when funding constraints are lifted.