Women’s studies program aims to understand inequality between genders

Amanda Leonard, News Editor

Though it may seem untrue, sexism and inequality still exists and is portrayed covertly or overtly in the media. Today’s society is heavily influenced by such media, as well as advertisements. Wilkes’ women’s studies program delves into these issues and brings eye-opening classes and events to students who wish to become more educated about such topics.

Jennifer Thomas, associate psychology professor, filled the role as the new director of the women’s studies program this semester. She became interested in the topic of women’s studies while she was in college and did her senior capstone on the victimization of women and the inequality they endure in most aspects of life.

“Women have always had some kind of negative portrayal in the media,” she said. “Gender is an important variable in terms of friendship, relationship and just socializing on a daily basis.”

The women’s studies program at Wilkes aims to analyze these negative portrayals and teach students to empathize with subjects such as sexism and inequality.

At Wilkes, a student can pursue a women’s studies minor fairly easily. He or she will be required to take Women’s Studies 101, offered every spring semester, and five Women’s Studies minor eligible classes. These classes are offered in a variety of disciplines and are integrated in a way so that students will not have to seek out certain classes that do not pertain to his or her major.

The easily-accessible classes is proof that “gender issues are everywhere,” Thomas said.

The topics in WSM-eligible classes range from gender identity and gender role gaps in society, to biological change in adolescents and managerial positions in the workplace.

Julia Cikota, a sophomore psychology major, is one of the interns to the program. She emphasizes how easily is it to get involved with the program and how easy it is to coordinate classes with your major.

“Through my work as an intern, I’ve learned a great deal about the gender inequality that still exists in America and around the world,” she said. “I wanted to learn more about it, in hopes of making a positive change in terms of the social status of women.”

Aside from classes, the women’s studies department hosts numerous events throughout the year and an annual conference in the spring. This year’s conference theme is “Women Across the Globe,” and will be set in April. The department recently hosted “Love Your Body” day on Oct. 20, where students set up a table in the student union building and had information about body image, eating disorders and showed a screening of “Cover Girl Culture.” Their next event will be a showing of the documentary “Miss Representation,” which deals with women’s image in the media. ADD SENTENCE ABOUT THE DETAILS OF THIS UPCOMING EVENT AND MOVE IT UP, MAKES THIS TIMELY AND LETS PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT IT – KC

“Pursuing a minor in women’s studies makes you more marketable when applying for graduate school or a job,” Cikota said. “The classes are easy to fit into your schedules and some WSM classes even fulfill general education requirements.”

The women’s studies program is in the process of changing the program’s name to Women’s and Gender studies in the near future.

“We live in a world of both men and women and it is really important that we both understand the issues of inequality at hand,” Thomas said.