Women's and Gender Studies Program

"Far away there in sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead." -Louisa May Alcott

Jessie Backer, Class of 2011

Jessie BackerI was amazed at how easily the WMGS program allowed me to explore different ways feminism intersects with art, literature, and politics. I ended up studying English Literature, which paired very organically with Women's and Gender Studies. The program truly helped me to round out my understandings of feminism and women's issues with regards to everything from world religions and ancient philosophy to American pop culture and legislature. I also did everything I could to get involved with the wonderful PLU Women's Center, and I ended up having a wonderful experience working there part-time during my senior year and serving on the Women's Center Advisory Board.

I now work in San Francisco at an incredible nonprofit called Larkin Street Youth Services, which serves homeless and runaway youth. I was placed here after graduation through Americorps VISTA, which is a service initiative designed by John F. Kennedy with the specific focus of ending poverty in America. 

Brian Norman, Class of 1999

briannormanFor me, my women's studies major played a key role in connecting academics and social responsibility. I was stirred by the social justice problems of the feminization of poverty, the homophobia of American sports culture, the racism of urban blight, and so on. It seemed that women's studies offered the kind of intellectual training that would equip me to enter [these conversations].

I [now] direct the African and African American Studies program at Loyola University Maryland, while contributing courses to its gender studies program. I also participate in relevant student organizations addressing LGBT rights, sexual assault, and other important concerns. My feminist literature courses continue to be my most intellectually rewarding. In fact, when I interviewed for my job at Loyola, I pitched my dream course: a study of "dead women talking." From Madeline Usher to Toni Morrison's Beloved, these strange figures are all over American literature and I aimed to find out why. I have been able to offer the course twice and my students have risen to the occasion, turning to feminist theory, legal studies, and literary criticism to explain how these figures help a nation confront past injustices it might rather remain buried. From feedback that I receive, it seems that I might be offering what I found so vauable and energizing as a women's studies student at PLU: real and pressing questions requiring academic inquiry and a supportive intellectual community up for the challenge.

Abi McLane, Class of 2008

abimclaneI chose to pursue a major in Women's and Gender Studies because I wanted to be challenged academically and personally. The WMGS courses enriched all aspects of my academic experience while at PLU. The passion of my peers and professors encouraged me to look for ways I could engage in work I was passionate about. Through the mentorship of the WMGS faculty and Women's Center staff, I was encouraged to pursue an internship that helped me define what I wanted to do after college and ultimately provided me many of the professional skills I needed to obtain my first job as a Domestic Violence Advocate. Since college I have utilized the knowledge and skills I obtained while in the WMGS program on a daily basis in my professional roles. As well, the mentorship of the faculty in the WMGS department continued after I graduated and I was able to turn to them for recommendations when I chose to pursue my master's degree. WMGS encouraged me to be passionate about the work I do. The choice to major in WMGS played a pivotal role in me obtaining a job I love and find rewarding every day.

Ms. Magazine's "Transform the World"

Ms. Magazine

"It's a typical question from parents, fellow students, and even faculty: What can you do with your college degree? In an era of conservative impediments to progressive liberals arts education, a field such as women's studies seems a particularly common target for that query." -Nikki Ayanna Stewart