Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

​Study concepts of gender as a foundational element of global societies and cultures, and explore how gender intersects with sexuality, race, class, ability, nationality, ethnicity, religion, and age in the constitution of experience and identities.

Join Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as we explore evolving definitions of gender and feminism, and continue our progress beyond exclusionary theories and practices.

Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program

Students in the program integrate knowledge from many disciplines and perspectives to analyze societal, cultural, global, and personal issues. Reflect on knowledge production within different and oftentimes unrecognized systems of oppression, including how fluid and socially constructed categories are presented as natural and permanent in their cultural and historical context. Acquire skills of critical analysis and advocacy that will equip you to challenge the normalization of inequalities. 

The department offers both a major and a minor in Women’s Studies.

Learn about academic programs

Department Contacts

Director: Nimanthi Rajasingham
Academic Department Coordinator: Cathy Sheridan-Lee 
Office: 107B East Hall
Phone: 315-228-7156 or 315-228-6868

Center for Women's Studies Podcast: Voices of Resistance


Join Noha Shahba and Professor Nimanthi Rajasingham, who speak with Dana Olwan, an associate professor of women’s and gender studies at Syracuse University, about her work on critical feminist pedagogies. She discusses the role that feminist solidarity can play in confronting violence in Palestine in both its historical and contemporary form.

Listen to the podcast


Students Noha Shahba ('24) and Jose Arriaza ('25) speak with Paul Richmond and Briden Schueren, internationally renowned queer artists and activists who created Queertopia as a way of engaging communities in meaningful conversations and action to support the LGBTQ+ community and reimagine how queerness is represented. February 27, 2024


Listen to the podcast


Ela Przybylo reads a book

Featuring Ela Przybyło* (she/they), and hosted by R Hunsicker (e, em, eir and they, them, their), and Noha Shahba (she/her/hers).

Listen to the podcast

About Ela Przybyło
Ela Przybyło* (she/they) is Associate Professor in the Department of English and core faculty in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Illinois State University. Ela’s book, Asexual Erotics: Intimate Readings of Compulsory Sexuality, explores asexuality as facilitating a distinct form of erotic relating, drawing on the contributions of Audre Lorde and asexuality studies scholarship to challenge the central role sex and sexual desire hold in contemporary North American society.

About the interviewers
R Hunsicker (e, em, eir and they, them, their) is a Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) major and LGBTQ and PCON studies double minor. E became a WGSS major due to the passion they have for LGBTQ+ studies, queering gender and sexual norms, and asexual theory. R has a deep love and specializes in asexuality studies, trans studies, and intersex studies.  R is currently a student intern at Colgate University’s LGBTQ+ Initiatives where they create and present programming on trans* health and educate people on asexuality. E is also the Founder and President of Colgate University’s first trans* student organization, Trans* Advocacy Group (T.A.G.), where students are given a space to find community, explore their gender, and advocate for trans* wellbeing and safety through educational events and protest organizing. As a scholar, e has an upcoming publication scheduled for release in April in AZEand has two other publications forthcoming.

Noha Shahba (she/her/hers) is a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) and Neuroscience double major. Noha became a WGSS major because she is interested in working in healthcare and wanted to deepen her understanding of privileged structures and how the constructions of gender and sexualities relates to the oppression of minorities. Noha has been an intern with the Center for Women’s Studies since Fall 2019 and will be graduating this May. She took a gap year during the pandemic to explore her love of healthcare in underserved communities and worked as a phlebotomist. Noha is also an athlete on the Varsity Women’s Rowing team and a peer mentor for Colgate’s Biology 182 Lab.

Celebrating our Department Name Change

The Women's Center is celebrating our academic program's name change from Women's Studies to Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. We are very excited to celebrate and share our reasons for this big step. Our event will involve a discussion of why we have changed our name, our relationship to LGBQT Studies (both our overlaps with it and differences), and what we hope to accomplish with this new naming. We hope this discussion will be a teaching moment for us all as we move toward recognizing the complex developments in our discipline.

Watch the recording

WMST has given me the confidence, the knowledge, and the community to blossom into an activist.

Dena Robinson, ’12

Open Letters to the Campus Community

April 4, 2018

Dear Students and all who stand in solidarity with anti-racism/anti-oppression, 

This letter comes with a slight delay, riding now on the dirty coattails of what was a violent disregard for our Asian/American and Chinese students’ humanity and sense of belonging last week. Yet we know that the hate scrawled on our student’s bedroom door—the gateway to a space of sanctuary and alleged safety—drags along with it a long and tragic history of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian violence, a regrettable but real part of this nation’s foundation. But we know too that for every act of racist violence there has also always been resistance. Our Asian/American comrades knew this. And they also knew that while this kind of hate shaped us, molded our pains, and gave our realities texture (or what some might call ldquo;grit”), it also did not define us. Nor did it silence us. We have the Asian/American resistance movements and coalition-building with other oppressed communities from the 1960s to the present (e.g., The Black Panthers, BlackLivesMatter, Undocumented Immigrant rights movements, etc.) to remind us that silence has never been the norm. And, we all know too well the dogeared, normative story of Asians and Asian Americans. It’s a story of political apathy, of a monolithic community of model minorities ready and willing to align with the violence of white supremacy and capitalism. But that’s not our story. Our stories are richer and more beautiful—the collective imprint of all that our ancestors have struggled for and will continue to live on through our daily acts of resistance and our human acts of love towards each other. It is as Japanese-American activist Yuri Kochiyama noted, “we are all part of one another.” The persons who wrote hateful speech on their peer’s door forgot that. And what a sad loss for them because in doing so they diminished their own humanity as well. But again, that is not our story. Our stories are not just about sadness. They are also about joy and of communities coming together to speak back during moments like these. As your Educational Studies and Women’s Studies community, we wanted this note to thus simply serve as a reminder of the stories we have yet to tell and to let you know that we hope that your counter-narratives can find some sanctuary in our classes, in our offices, in our hallways, and beyond because we are indeed all part of one another.

With you,
Your professors in Educations Studies and Women's Studies

November 10, 2016

To the Colgate community,

We are at a very difficult crossroads: we witness the chasms that seem to divide us as people in the United States and across the globe. As we have seen over the past year, these distances and differences often take clearest form in our political contests: in the impasse that marks so many conversations on critical issues and in our individual and communal allegiances to the ideologies that guide — and divide — us.

This historical moment is a time of great social unrest, but also of great social change, and our college on a hill is not separate from either this unrest or this change. We bring hope and commitment to do the difficult work that will lead not to an erasure of our differences but rather to a deeper understanding of those differences and greater solidarity, inclusivity, and commitment to each other. We believe that this is a commitment we all must embrace as we work toward a just world.

We are continually inspired by our students, who have called us to live up to our mission to be a just, equitable, and inclusive community. The 2014 sit-in was one of the first of an ongoing wave of calls for racial justice, inclusion, and equity on campuses across the nation. Additional student protests and grassroots activism, particularly around the issue of sexual assault, have continued to bring us steps closer to becoming the Colgate we aspire to be. We honor our students and thank them for the risks they have taken to engage our campus in difficult conversations as we work toward change. We appreciate our administration's responsiveness to this activism, particularly as we have watched administrations on other campuses refuse to engage similar calls for change. We see how deeply our community has worked —through many academic departments and programs, in our many committees and centers, through our curriculum, and in the rich offerings of residential and campus programming and support services — to examine and resist the hierarchies that devalue, dehumanize, and divide.

Our lives are deeply interconnected: the oppressions we face are interlocking, systemic, and deeply historical. We see and face our own complicity — both personal and institutional — in these systems; it is a complicity that is an inextricable part of our beloved institution. We stand with explicit resistance and critique of white supremacy, patriarchy, classism, and all systems of oppression. We stand with activists across the nation, those representing Black Lives Matter, Dakota Pipeline, queer and trans rights, reproductive justice, and activists working against anti-Muslim violence, sexual violence, and for the rights of undocumented people.

We write to you, now, publicly, to commit ourselves to the work we have yet to do, not only in engaging in difficult conversations more overtly as a community, but also in working toward actual sustained structural change in our own institution and beyond. We embrace this challenge and opportunity to grow as a community and to build solidarity across our many differences.

We call ourselves and our community to do this work ever more publicly, collectively, and overtly in our curriculum and programming, bringing all of us into conversation with each other and continuing the work of building a campus community to which we most aspire.

In hope and solidarity,
The Women's Studies Advisory Board

November 16, 2015

Dear Colgate Community,

We in Women’s Studies are troubled by the culture of sexual violence on campus. We have been deeply moved by survivors’ testimonies over the course of last week, accounts we have heard repeated for too many years. We affirm that many of our students are hurting. We are present with you; we are listening. We support your activism.

As faculty and staff who have long been engaged in the struggle, we reaffirm our commitment to creating a campus culture that does not tolerate sexual assault, harassment, or bias, and that supports survivors of these incidents in their healing process and actively works to prevent and end sexual violence.

While many of us have worked for improvements in violence prevention and equity policy, we know this is not enough, because sexual violence continues to be a major problem on this campus.

We want to continue to create spaces of solidarity and cultural awareness in order to shift cultures of silence and violence.

We believe that ongoing dialogue and action is crucial.

In the following ways we will continue to work towards justice on campus:
We will encourage dialogue among student survivors and allies by facilitating a weekly reading group that supports survivor’s healing processes.

We will encourage critical dialogue among faculty on the topic of sexual violence through offering teaching resources and teach-in opportunities.
We will raise awareness about historical dimensions of activism to end sexual violence at Colgate, by creating social movement timelines and materials that are easily accessible to the campus.

We will work to build campus understandings of the intersectional dimensions of sexual power and violence and the ways that gender-based, class-based, racial, sexual, etc. hierarchies have long been maintained through social and political systems.

With dialogue and collective action we can do better to prevent sexual violence and support survivors. We are all in this together.

Women’s Studies Faculty and Staff (alpha-order signatures below)

  • Rebecca Miller Ammerman
  • Heidi Angueira
  • Claire Baldwin
  • Antonio Barerra
  • Danny Barreto
  • Travis Beaver
  • Janel Benson
  • Jesi Buell
  • John Connor
  • Kim Creasap
  • Allie Fry
  • Maureen Hays-Mitchell 
  • Jennifer Hull
  • Linck Johnson
  • Hélène Julien
  • Padma Kaimal
  • Deborah Knuth Klenk
  • Meika Loe
  • Elizabeth Marlowe
  • Clarice Martin
  • Mary Moran
  • Berlisha Morton
  • Nimanthi Rajasingham
  • Anna Rios-Rojas
  • Cristina Serna
  • Mary Simonson
  • Suzanne B. Spring
  • Lynn Staley
  • Linn Underhill
  • Priscilla Van Wynsberghe
  • Jing Wang
  • Sarah Wider

Dear Colleagues:

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you to inform you that Mills College, a historical women’s college opened in 1852 and my alma mater, is no more. 

The Board of Trustees of Mills College voted on September 14 to merge Mills College with Northeastern University. Northeastern has a history of “merging” with smaller colleges. These mergers have traditionally been no more than prettified land grabs. The land that Mills sits on, located as it is in increasingly gentrified Oakland, has become more financially valued than the school itself. That is one sizable tragedy among many similar tragedies happening nationwide, as small liberal arts colleges bear the brunt of Covid and the opportunities that marginalized students have to access higher education dwindle further.

The school survived a ‘90s push to go co-ed and maintained its unique status as an all-women’s undergraduate institution thanks to compelling student protests. More than half of our students identify as disabled, and approximately 70% receive the Pell Grant. We have been a unique institution even among women’s colleges for our insistence that education must be accessible to all who seek it. 

While some have argued that this mission is what brought us down in the end, they are mistaken. The months-long battle over court documents which the current Mills administration refused to turn over in the face of a court order shows that the cynics among us were correct all along. The current administration of Mills College has taken great pains to hide the school’s true financial status, even while decrying Mills’ current financial state as “untenable.” It is unclear just how tenable or not this school is, but it certainly is clear that dissolute spending and poor recruitment strategy have brought Mills to where it is today, not the untenability of women’s institutions. “The Fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. It is in ourselves.”

Those of us who work in higher education that relies on feminist principles owe a debt of gratitude to women’s colleges for persisting in their mission to educate those of us women who struggle to find our voices, and to find safety, in traditional male-dominated institutions. 

I am grateful for the time I had at Mills College, for the friends I made there and the faculty who mentored me. I tried very hard over the past two years to maintain the Mills College that I knew, as did my colleagues on the Board of Governors. I am sorry that future generations will not have the same opportunity I had to build a future for themselves here. Such things are precious gifts. 

Thank you,

Ariadne Wolf


Drawing of a woman with the caption “we are all part of one another”