Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Monday, May 1, 2017

The New Trend for Studying Gender

Daily Telegraph, The New Trend For Studying Gender, Apr. 24, 2017 (link not available).

A rise in the discussion about gender has led to a range of new courses, from celebrity-endorsed women studies to the world's first queer history course. Alice Barraclough finds out what they offer.
Of course you don't need a master's degree in feminism to understand inequality between the sexes. But a postgraduate degree in gender studies - or indeed in sexuality or queer history - isn't just about understanding that inequality, but the theories behind it and how we can make a difference.
Over the past few years, gender studies has become an increasingly popular cross-disciplinary postgraduate course. It taps into subjects ranging from history and law, to literature, politics and even science. While graduates go on to work for NGOs, charities and advocacy groups, the courses are also popular with professionals who already work in both the public and private sectors, and wish to develop a deeper understanding of gendered practice.
The University of Oxford offers a MSt in women's studies while Cambridge offers an MPhil in gender studies. You can study for an MSc in gender and international relations at Bristol or an MA in women, violence and conflict at York.
Dr Ann Kaloski Naylor, lecturer at the Centre for Women's Studies, University of York, says students choose women's studies because they want to make a difference to the world, "especially (not exclusively) to the position of women, and feel that this is not only necessary but possible; they want to lead useful lives inspired by, and grounded in, scholarly thought".
But why, in 2017, are these courses gaining such interest? "There's definitely a renewed interest from young people. This is enhanced by social media, which has popularised feminism, in that when teenagers sense gender inequality and oppression there is somewhere easy to go to find out and to chat to others," says Dr Kaloski Naylor. "It's a 21stcentury version of 'consciousnessraising' groups, where many women (and some men) can discover that their own sense of injustice is shared, and that personal inequalities - for example, not being allowed to play football or netball, or being told to wear certain clothes - stem from much wider understandings of women and men. It's also clear that issues of abuse and violence motivate people of many genders, and our degree programmes and modules that address issues of violence and feminist cultural activism are really popular."
Violence against women is increasingly recognised as a global issue. From September, a one-year MSc in women, peace and security will run at the London School of Economics (LSE) - the first of its kind. What's more, actor and director Angelina Jolie will join former foreign secretary William Hague as a "professor in practice". Last month, Ms Jolie led a postgraduate women, peace and security class at LSE as part of the one-term module currently offered to postgraduate degree students. She spoke about her experience in the field and what motivated her work as UN special envoy.

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