Gender & Women, and Sexuality Studies | University of Portland

Gender & Women, and Sexuality Studies


Welcome to Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Portland! This interdisciplinary academic experience is designed to foster dialogue between the arts, humanities, social sciences, and all pre-professional areas of study. Our goal is to better understand issues of identity and sexuality in their historical, ethical, theological, and socio-cultural contexts. We favor an intersectional approach that considers questions of gender with regard to race, class, age, ethnicity, religion, and nationality, and our program rests on feminist, anti-racist, and decolonial pedagogies. 

Our program welcomes and encourages creative, innovative, and collaborative approaches in the study of gender, women, and sexuality—our faculty represent a range of disciplines: Communication Studies, English, Political Science and Global Affairs, Theology, and more. Topics of urgency in today’s world, such as poverty, migration, labor, economics, justice, faith, education, healthcare, globalism, and hunger, all intersect in the study of gender—the GWSS program prepares students to be change-makers in all areas of life.

Check out our landing page here to read more about why you might choose to study GWSS here at UP and learn about some of the potential career paths for GWSS majors and minors. And take a look at the bulletin here for more details about our learning outcomes, the capstone, and a detailed look at the requirements for the major and minor. Finally, check out a recent story in The Beacon about our new major here.

We invite you to explore the options open to you in the Gender and Women’s Studies major or minor and to consider how your studies at UP could be enriched by an interdisciplinary study of gender! 



Keaton Gaughan

Keaton Gaughan (he/they) - Class of 2018

"A lot has changed in my years at UP, however, the only thing that remained constant was my drive and passion for Gender and Women’s Studies. This program created a niche within academia where I was able to thrive and grow immensely––both as a student and as a human being. Being assigned female at birth made many feminist-based issues very personal to me; that drive was reinvigorated as my understanding of my own gender identity shifted. Through this transition, I found support and recognition in the courses offered by the Gender and Women’s Studies Minor program; taking courses like Gender and the Body and Philosophy and Feminism gave me the space to safely realize, talk about, and grapple with my trans identity. It was within these contexts that I could engage my own implicit biases, challenge my peers, and be challenged by my professors on the ways in which we are all complicit in oppressive systems and structures as well as the ways we can resist and even uproot them. This program gave me a foundation that will be of immeasurable value for the rest of my life. In fact, the mentoring and reliability of the professors alone was enough to make me consider teaching within this discipline as an exciting potential career path. I am eager to continue my academic pursuit of Gender and Women’s Studies in the years to come––all thanks to this program. "

Emily Dovel

Emily Dovel - Class of 2016

"I was excited when I first learned of the new Gender and Women’s Studies minor at the University of Portland. As a history major, I had already discovered the immense value of interdisciplinary studies through explorations of philosophy, theology, and political science. This, along with my abiding moral and intellectual commitment to feminism, led me to immediately sign up for the GWS minor. I enrolled in a wonderful variety of courses within the minor and was fortunate to gain greater understanding of gender and sexuality through sociological, political, theological, and historical perspectives. The final seminar with Dr. Brassard was one of the best courses I took as an undergraduate. In addition to the remarkable experience of studying among intelligent and creative women who care deeply about issues of gender equality, the rich variety of academic and personal knowledge from both classmates and teacher interwove in intensely compelling discussions. Moreover, my experiences with GWS deeply influenced my thinking for my senior history thesis, an examination of gender and sexuality in the ideology of two major Sufi masters of the 12th and 13th centuries. I am also certain that my education within the Gender and Women’s Studies program will be beneficial to my upcoming studies in the Islamic Studies PhD program at UCLA."

Anacristina Fonseca

Anacristina Fonseca - Class of 2016

"I remember what it felt like sitting in the first class of my career as a freshman English major: Studies in Women Writers with Dr. Brassard. As the discussion zapped around me I felt deliriously pumped, thinking, “Someone made language for this? People are already talking about this stuff, but like, really articulately??” At the time, that our reality is organized by a system of power was at best an inkling of mine as a woman and Mexican immigrant growing up in a small rural California town—something I could never name but always hoped was true. As I did the work of what felt like uncovering the Matrix over the course of my GWS minor, I realized that more than my external reality looking a lot like crazy holographic binary code, it was actually me that was looking a bit different. I learned that it's unlikely to study gender without studying race, sexuality, ability, etc., and ultimately, without studying yourself. My GWS minor unraveled me a little bit (a lot), and I had the space, tools, and support of a community of dear friends, professors, and staff to be curious, courageous, and joyful in undoing and unlearning. After graduating in 2016, I moved to New York City to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps to work as an advocate and now as a paralegal at Make the Road New York, a non-profit that organizes and provides services for Latinx immigrants. I still find myself, very thankfully, unraveling."