Type of entity
Authorized form of name
Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Parallel form(s) of name
Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules
Other form(s) of name
- Department of Women's Studies (1991 - 7 December 2009)
- Women's Studies Program (1976 - 1991)
Identifiers for corporate bodies
Dates of existence
The Department of Women's Studies at SFU has its roots in the political climate on campus during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some students and faculty expressed a desire to participate in research on women and the development of feminist theory. In the fall of 1971, the first course to focus on women—Geography 404: the Geography of Gender—was offered to 40 students. At the same time, SFU faculty members began to develop and participate in a series of non-credit courses relating to women's issues. As a result of the success of both Geography 404 and these non-credit courses, a proposal for a Women's Studies program was drafted. In 1975 this proposal was presented by Andrea Lebowitz and Margaret Benston to Senate and approved.
The Women's Studies program was established within the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies, and offered its first course in 1976. The program was administered by the Women's Studies Coordinating Committee, which was responsible for hiring, course development, and other administrative details. The Coordinating Committee was composed of Women's Studies faculty members, elected student representatives, and associated faculty teaching in the program.
In 1985, when the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies was eliminated, the Women's Studies program was placed in the Faculty of Arts within the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies. Also in the 1980s, the Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Chair in Women's Studies was founded, a role that includes teaching, public speaking engagements, the organization of conferences, and the invitation of distinguished speakers. And, in 1985, the MA program was established and admitted its first students.
The 1990s brought further developments: the introduction of a certificate program in 1990; departmental status in 1991; the offering of joint majors, with English in 1991 and with Psychology in 1992; and the approval of Women's Studies as a major in 1994. Political Science and Sociology/Anthropology joint majors were added in 1997.
In 2000, the department introduced a course-based MA, followed by additional joint majors with Criminology, History, and Humanities in 2001. A PhD program was established in 2004, and a Gender Studies minor was added to the undergraduate program in the same year. By 2007-2008, there were 775 students enrolled in Women's Studies undergraduate programs and courses, with a further 23 students in the MA and PhD programs. As of 2008, there are six full-time faculty members, four faculty who are jointly appointed with another department, eight faculty from other departments who serve as associate members of the department, three professors emeritae, one adjunct faculty member, and one endowed professor. Three staff members are also employed by the department.