Program Spotlight: Gender and Women Studies

Earn your A.A. with Emphasis in GWS and transfer to a four-year institution as a junior

As a student in the Gender and Women Studies (GWS) program at Inver Hills Community College, you will focus your learning on how gender identity and roles are structured. You will examine the often invisible assumptions we hold about race, class, gender and heterosexuality while working to understand how these assumptions shape our lives.

You will also study the economic, political and sociological ramifications of identity shaped by race, class, gender and sexual preference. Gender and Women Studies is an accelerated online program that provides a global perspective, analyzing how these issues unfold in both the U.S. and other nations around the world.

You can earn an Associate of Arts (A.A.) with Emphasis in Gender and Women Studies and transfer your credits to a four-year college or university to pursue GWS as your major. Gender and Women Studies provides a strong interdisciplinary foundation for other majors as well.

More about the A.A. with Emphasis in Gender and Women Studies

60 credits

The Associate of Arts (A.A.) with Emphasis in Gender and Women Studies offers interdisciplinary perspectives on the formation of gender and its intersections with other relations of power, such as sexuality, race, class, nationality, religion and age. Courses prepare you for careers in human services, the media, community organizing and education, among other possibilities.

Earning your A.A. with Emphasis is not required to take GWS classes. You can add courses in this discipline to your academic palette to broaden your perspective and enhance your career options. All Gender and Women Studies courses transfer within the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC).

Note: To earn the A.A. with Emphasis, students need to complete all requirements for a general A.A. degree incorporating the specific requirements of their chosen emphasis.
Careful planning with an academic counselor is strongly advised to tailor the emphasis to meet the requirements of the student’s chosen four-year college or university.

Faculty perspective: Mary Petrie, PhD

Mary Petrie, PhD

Mary Petrie, PhD, serves as faculty in the Gender and Women Studies (GWS) program at Inver Hills. Mary started teaching at the college in September 2007. She reported that one of the most exciting parts of GWS is the discipline’s power and immediacy.

“Class conversations often turn to current events,” she said, “as we use theory and data from GWS textbooks to better understand real-life conflicts and controversies surrounding gender, race, class and gender identity.”

Mary added that GWS is an online program, and she think sometimes students fear conversations might be less organic or passionate without in-class interactions.

“On the contrary, online discussions are consistently rigorous, complex and often deeply personal,” she said. “Students learn a lot from each other here: online conversations, lectures, and textbooks also often reinforce students’ lived experiences. Students report that information they receive in GWS gives them authority to better understand their own intersectional experiences as not just personal and idiosyncratic events, but as events and lives emblematic of—and construed through—larger cultural currents.”

Mary pointed out that the A.A. with Emphasis in Gender and Women Studies signifies a special expertise in gendered systems, from the economies of family systems to larger social, political, and economic systems. This is an entirely flexible academic focus: students with an emphasis in GWS can transfer to four-year institutions or find employment in a wide variety of fields open to liberal arts majors.

“As the only faculty member in Gender and Women Studies, I am lucky to be able to form individual relationships with all students in these classes, particularly students who earn an emphasis,” Mary said. “The program is relatively small, which means I can also follow students as they move throughout their course of studies at Inver Hills. It’s been my great pleasure to watch many GWS graduates go onto four-year colleges and to still keep in touch with so many as they embark on careers or more study, often informed by GWS.”

“Students report that information they receive in GWS gives them authority to better understand their own intersectional experiences as not just personal and idiosyncratic events, but as events and lives emblematic of—and construed through—larger cultural currents.”

Mary Petrie, PhD
Gender and Women Studies Faculty
Inver Hills Community College

More about Mary…

Mary earned both her Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and Master of Arts (M.A.) in English with minors in Feminist Studies at the University of Minnesota, where she also held a number of positions as an administrative fellow, including with the U of M’s Commission on Women. She earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in East Asian Studies with a minor in Chinese at Hamline University

In addition to serving as full-time faculty in the English department at Inver Hills, Mary founded the college’s Gender and Women Studies department. She is a certified peer reviewer for Quality Matters (QM), a nonprofit setting standards in online education; many of Mary’s own courses are offered online and have earned certification as courses that meet QM standards.

Mary’s teaching interests are in women writers, feminist theory, creative writing and contemporary fiction. She is the recipient of a number of writing awards, including a Loft McKnight Creative Nonfiction Award, Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, and Creative Nonfiction Mentor Series; her writing has appeared in Rake Magazine, The Women’s Colony (now defunct online magazine) and The New York Times.

Prior to joining the faculty at Inver Hills, Mary was the executive director of Farm in the City (an arts and environmental nonprofit), and she continues to dabble in a myriad of volunteer and community-service endeavors, largely related to environmental issues.


11 Things You Can Do With a Gender Studies Degree¹

By Haley Baird Riemer Career Fairygodboss

Despite the skepticism about the “practicality” that too often surrounds the field, gender studies is an incredibly vital and relevant choice of study. An in-depth understanding of gender, sexuality, and other forms of difference and identity is essential for understanding the different forces at play in the world—particularly in our current social and political spheres.

More than ever, we are pushing progressively to see gender as a social construct and identify the ways in which our world is built around patriarchal values that privilege the few and marginalize so many groups of people. Gender studies majors have an extensive understanding of the way these systems of power are created, as well as ways to fight against inequality and toward a more just world.

But, here’s the practicality question: What kind of jobs can you get with a gender studies degree? The short answer: pretty much any job available to a liberal arts major. Gender studies majors are well-versed in many fields, from sociology to literature, and equipped with impeccable writing, reasoning and critical thinking skills. This makes them available and qualified for any number of jobs in media, politics or social sciences.

Furthermore, a gender studies major brings a unique and valuable perspective to any field they enter and the ability to make that particular industry a fairer, less biased one.

What is gender studies?

Gender studies is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates sociology, anthropology, history and politics with a focus on gender and sexuality. Basically, this field of study is exactly what it sounds like: an exploration of how and why gender exists and interacts with the world.

What is gender, and how does it affect the way the world works? Did we always treat gender the way we do today? When did gender start meaning so much to us? How have misogyny and gendered oppression impacted the way we study other disciplines? What does this mean for sexuality, and how does gender interact with and within the LGBTQ+ community? How do race and racial oppression interact with gender, and to what extent is race also a social construct? These are the questions asked and—attempted to be answered—in the field of gender studies.

READ MORE…
11 gender studies jobs
  • Journalist
  • Teacher
  • Lawyer
  • Writer
  • Casting director
  • Human resources manager
  • Nonprofit program director
  • Lobbyist
  • Human rights advocate
  • Editor
  LEARN MORE…

Why Inver Hills?

Completing your A.A. with Emphasis in Gender and Women Studies degree obligations at Inver Hills is smart on several key levels:

  1. You will receive an excellent education with one-on-one interactions with GWS faculty
  2. You will get experience working to understand and find solutions to complex social issues important to people across the gender spectrum
  3. You will save money and continue your academic and professional careers with less student debt

On a national scale, student loan debt has mushroomed to $1.56 trillion with 44.7 million borrowers. Minnesota is ranked ninth in the nation with an average student loan debt topping $32,000.

Tuition and fees for one year at Inver Hills costs less than $5,500. Compare that to $15,000 to $20,000 at a for-profit college, or $40,000 to $50,000 at a private college or university. You can complete your first two years at Inver getting a topflight education firsthand from Ph.D. faculty and then transfer to a four-year as a junior all while saving thousands of dollars.

Learn more about Gender and Women Studies at Inver Hills by contacting:

Mary Petrie, PhD
Gender and Women Studies Faculty
651-450-3550

Admissions Team
651-450-3000
College Center

¹ Courtesy of Fairygodboss

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