The Women's and Gender Studies Program at Iowa State University, established in 1977, focuses on the study of issues and scholarship relevant to women and gender, challenges existing systems of knowledge, and forges new scholarship based on the centrality of gender as a category of analysis. Women's Studies fosters an awareness of the varied theoretical approaches to the study of women, feminism, and gender, and recognizes that there is a great diversity among women, not only in the United States but worldwide. Women's and Gender Studies creates an understanding that interrelated factors - e.g., race, ethnicity, class, age, disability, religion, national origin, and sexual orientation-inform knowledge of women's history, culture, and social roles.
Women's Studies seeks to improve critical thinking and to question prevailing assumptions. It encourages students to explore the contexts, ideological origins, and power relations of knowledge; promotes social responsibility by connecting personal experience and political activity; and validates student contributions and voices. Women's Studies thus cultivates innovative pedagogies based on collaborative learning approaches. The Program also aims to increase solidarity among women and to improve the campus climate for women by organizing conferences, symposia, seminars, and social events, and by working collaboratively with other ISU programs and with local and global women's organizations and events.
An undergraduate major and minor are offered in Women's Studies, in addition to an interdisciplinary graduate minor for both Master's and Doctoral students. Students can choose from a curriculum of twelve core courses and over twenty cross-listed courses.