Baylor makes push to promote gender and women studies minor

Baylor gender and women studies minor is taking steps to grow and publicize the well-developed but relatively unknown minor.

Created in 1996, the minor works to prepare students to live in a diverse society and consider the experiences of men and women worldwide while encouraging a better understanding of gender, race and class relations.

“It would give you the ability to recognize sexist thinking and writing, and hopefully give you the ability to be open and aware,” said Dr. Lisa Shaver, associate professional writing professor. “There isn’t a week or a day that goes by when you see a news story where that type of awareness of thinking from multiple perspectives was needed.”

As director of the Gender Studies Advisory Council, Shaver worked alongside other faculty to update the curriculum.

Twenty-two classes offered at Baylor are applicable to a minor in women’s and gender studies, according to the minor’s course listings.

Since the program has existed for so long, over time the program has lost some classes offered and gained new classes.

With the curriculum updated, the council set out to publicize the minor, which currently enrolls seven students.

Next fall, the council plans to advertise the minor at orientation to freshmen who might not otherwise know of its existence.

Most of the students currently enrolled heard about the minor during a class that satisfies a women and gender studies requirement.

Given that the minor now includes classes in 10 disciplines, the program casts a pretty large net for prospective students.

Mansfield sophomore Sierra Nicole Smith became excited when she learned through an introductory sociology class that Baylor offered a gender studies program.

Smith is pre-law and hopes to one day fight for gender, racial and LGBTQ+ equality. The program’s interdisciplinary nature appealed to her career goals, so she signed up.

“If I want to be one of these great female voices and amazing leaders I think it’s extremely important to know about the ones who came before me, who set me up for this path and these opportunities. You have to know where you come from to know where you’re going,” Smith said.

The program certainly knows where it’s going as well. This year it has sponsored two events, including a panel last fall to vote for the best candidate for the new $10 bill that will feature a woman in 2020. For Women’s History Month, the minor sponsored a screening of the documentary “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.”