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Department of Women's Studies

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Welcome to the Department of Women's Studies


What is “Women’s Studies”? – Program Description

Women’s Studies first began to be offered in the universities in the 1970s, to use academic research to find out about the perceptions and experiences of women and to correct omissions, trivializations and misconceptions that existed.

Today, Women’s Studies is a well-established field with an enormous amount of scholarly research to its credit, in fields as diverse as literature, psychology, science, history – indeed, practically every academic discipline. However, its focus has shifted away from a simple “study of women” to critically examine:

  • cultural constructions of women, gender and sexuality, and the fluid and shifting nature of gender as a social construct
  • the importance of gender in structuring our institutions, work, perceptions and emotions
  • varied theoretical approaches to the study of women, gender, sexuality and feminism
  • the diversity of women, in particular the intersection of gender with class, race, sexual orientation and other variables to create complex power relations
  • the contexts and ideological origins of knowledge and the relationship between knowledge and power in society.

Women’s Studies attempts to promote social responsibility by considering the interconnection between knowledge production, personal experience and political activity and to validate student contributions and voices.

Admission Requirements Ontario Secondary Schools:

  • 1 grade 12 4U English
  • 5 other grade 12 4U/M courses


Choose a program of study…

  • 3 or 4 year B.A. with a Minor in Women’s Studies
  • 3-year B.A. with a Concentration or Minor in Women’s Studies
  • 4-year B.A. with a Major in Women’s Studies
  • Certificate in Women’s Studies, either independently or while completing another degree program outside the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Single elective courses while completing another degree program
  • A variety of courses in English and French and the possibility of completing a 3-year B.A. through our distance education program


Why should you consider taking a B.A. in Women’s Studies?

A Bachelor of Arts degree is designed to develop flexibility, critical thinking skills, and a wide knowledge base that are valued by many diverse employers. Students in Women’s Studies develop research skills and an ability to construct effective verbal and oral arguments. Women’s Studies encourages you to grow intellectually beyond the confines of traditional thinking and challenges you personally and politically. Many students choose combined concentrations at the undergraduate level--the interdisciplinary nature of Women’s Studies makes this a logical option and gives you more flexibility in entering graduate or professional programs.


What kind of job does this degree qualify me for?

Employers increasingly are interested in hiring people who are sensitive to equity issues arising out of the emerging diversity of Canadian society. Women’s Studies graduates are currently working in a variety of fields. They may work in feminist organizations, women’s advocacy groups, women’s shelters, rape crisis centres, hospitals, and government agencies, small and large businesses. Your B.A. in Women’s Studies provides excellent background for entering professions where knowledge about women’s perspectives can lead to specialized practice or be used every day in interactions with people. These include law, nursing, medicine, midwifery, social work, counseling, teaching, journalism and media production.


Can I go on to Graduate School with a Women’s Studies degree?

Graduate programs in Women’s Studies at the M.A. and Ph. D. level are established at many universities in and outside of Canada. At some universities, it is possible to take a Women’s Studies option while studying within one of the traditional disciplines such as sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, English, or philosophy.


Flexibility in your Women’s Studies degree

Women’s Studies offers tremendous flexibility in course type and language of instruction. All core courses and many electives in Women’s Studies are available both on campus and by Envision (distance education). The Concentration, Minor and Certificate in Women’s Studies can be done entirely through Envision.

On-campus and Envision courses are interchangeable and count equally for credit in all Women’s Studies degrees. This means that students can complete coursework for their degree living in Sudbury or elsewhere in Canada or do only part of their degree requirements on campus in Sudbury.

Etes-vous bilingue? Des cours de langues française et anglaise sont également comptés pour crédit pour la majeur, mineur, la concentration et le certificat. Par exemple, les élèves peuvent suivre WOMN 1005 F Introduction aux études sur les femmes (6 cr.) au cours de leur première année, puis prendre une sélection de cours en français ou en anglais pour obtenir leur diplôme.

Mineure interdisciplinaire en études des femmes

Les étudiants ont l’option de faire la Mineure interdisciplinaire en études des femmes. Cette mineure thématique est logé au département de sociologie.Ce programme de 24 crédits commence avec WOMN 1005 F Introduction aux études sur les femmes (6 cr.) offert chez l’Université Thorneloe.


I am not a Social Science, Humanities or Sciences student, can I still take Women’s Studies?

Students from faculties outside the Arts can still take the Certificate in Women’s Studies. For example nursing, midwifery and social work students often do a Certificate in Women’s Studies because they would one day like to work in the fields of sexual health, services for women or a field that requires knowledge of social justice. Likewise, any person outside of the University can take the Certificate for their own interest or professional development. (Students must ask the Registrar of Laurentian University to have their certificate put on their transcript when applying to graduate.) Please contact the Department Chair with any questions.


I began my degree at Laurentian University’s campus in Barrie, Ontario

Select courses in Women’s Studies are available on campus in Barrie, Ontario, up to the second year level. Once students hold a Laurentian University student number they can register in any WOMN-coded courses or electives in order to complete a three year degree with a Concentration, Minor or Certificate in Women’s Studies by Envision. Students are reminded that if taking Introduction to Women’s Studies in Barrie that they must complete both WOMN 1006 and WOMN 1007. As well they must attend fourth year courses on campus in Sudbury to complete the requirements for the Major. Students from Barrie are welcome to contact the Department Chair for academic advising at any point in their studies.


What do our graduates say?

“The Women's Studies program has taught me issues surrounding not only my own life, but about other women as a whole. I have come to realize that Women’s Studies has been an inspiration to me. I have learned different issues that I have never encountered before and I know that the program will help me in all future aspects, because it is not just a course or a major, but a life experience that teaches people how to live in society.”
--Krysta Laffrenier, B.A. Women’s Studies 2003

“I have learned a lot from women's studies that I not only use in my present, personal view of the way I react to the world around me, but will also use toward the field of work I will be going into. I am now working toward my diplomas in social work--and in the courses I am taking this summer with Laurentian in Social Studies, much of what I have learned in Women’s Studies applies--such as postmodernism, globalization, and free trade, to name a few. I will carry what I have learned in Women’s Studies to my profession--with the hope of finding like-minded others.”
--Maureen Doyle, B.A. Psychology with a Women’s Studies Certificate 2003

“The knowledge of feminist theory and methodology that I gained from my Women's Studies degree has enabled me to secure my current position as a research assistant position with McMaster University's Women's Health Study (Sudbury Region). It has also prepared me to serve as the President of the Sudbury Sexual Assault Crisis Centre's Board of Directors. However, the greatest benefit of my degree is that it has changed the way that I see and interact with the world around me.”
--Terri Lepage, B.A. Women’s Studies and English 2003

“Women’s Studies at Laurentian taught me about social analysis. I learned to think critically about institutions in which we participate--policy, education, the economy, politics, literature, culture, media, and religion--and consider their relationships to all people. The analytical and writing skills I gained from Women’s Studies have been invaluable to my graduate studies and to my work as a policy analyst for the provincial government. I have brought to my post-Laurentian years the ability to raise and articulate issues of equity, particularly in formulating social policy, and these skills were nurtured in Women’s Studies.”
--Susan Vanstone B.A. Women’s Studies 1993

“I have worked for Trans/Formative Services, an agency specializing in feminist psychotherapy for survivors of violence, as a family mediator at the Mediation Centre of Sudbury, and am presently at le Centre Victoria pour femmes, a non-profit organization that serves women affected by violence where I work one-on-one with survivors. The women’s studies program at Laurentian University was instrumental in shaping my understanding of patriarchy as it relates to women’s oppression in a greater societal context. Today, I am very satisfied to be working in my chosen field toward the elimination of gendered violence. An added bonus is that I am able to continue working professionally in psychotherapy and community development in my native town and in a francophone environment!”
--Ginette C. Demers, B.A. Psychology and Women’s Studies 1997, B.S.W. 2005

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