The College of Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts offers undergraduates the chance to minor in gender studies. The classes that may be applied to the minor can cover a wide variety of topics concerning gender, women’s studies and sexuality. One of the required courses for the minor is Gender Studies 300: Fundamentals of Gender Studies. Tabetha Adkins has taught the course for the last couple of years.
“Students come in with really smart questions about the effects of gender on everyday life. They are aware. They know it matters, but they sometimes cannot articulate why it matters. I get to give them a vocabulary for explaining the why,” Adkins says.
Students have praised both the class and the minor. Many of Adkins’ students tell her it is their favorite class.
“They tell me, ‘I see it, now,’ and they become advocates for gender equality,” says Adkins. “They understand that gender or sex should not determine opportunity, and they are aware that it has and does.”
Some students, even though they have chosen the minor, can be reticent. Adkins acknowledges,
“It is about vocabulary again. There might be a misunderstanding of what feminism is. So the whole class starts to ask, ‘What is feminism?’ and I encourage them to push back and think about agendas.”
Considering the subjects that can naturally come up in these classes and the inherent controversy of even discussing gender and identity, I ask Dr. Adkins to tell me about any challenges students may have given her in the class. “You know, it hasn’t happened yet. I think it could, of course, but I make sure they know I am here to help them get smarter.”