About Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies

Our gateway course into both the GWSS major and minor is Introduction to Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies. Once you learn how to map the field of gender, women’s, and sexuality studies, you will advance to the Foundations of LGBTQ Studies course. This course provides an interdisciplinary examination of sexual desires, sexual orientations, and the concept of sexuality generally, with a particular focus on the construction of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identities. If you decide to major in GWSS, additional upper-level courses in methods and theory will follow.

Every student majoring or minoring in GWSS rounds out the program with a capstone course which offers students the opportunity to study a topic in-depth and to produce a substantial research paper. Topics will rotate and change depending on the expertise and interest of the faculty teaching them.

Finally, all Carleton majors complete a self-directed, advisor-guided senior project known as senior comps. This is your opportunity to study a topic of choice in depth. Examples of recent topics include: anti-rape activism, identities of “at-risk” youth, identity negotiation among Somali Muslim women, gender norms in contemporary children’s bibles, and being lesbian in queer urban China.

Additional opportunities for research exist outside the classroom as well. Women’s and Gender Studies in Europe offers students a unique opportunity to explore feminist and queer theory in practice across Western and East Central Europe.

GWSS Professor Iveta Jusova writing on a chalkboard

Why Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies?


  • Notions of gender, sexuality, race & class
  • Reproductive justice and the stratification of reproduction
  • Activism within and beyond identity politics
  • The gendering of discourse surrounding the public and persona spheres
  • How the pursuit and production of knowledge is infected with power hierarchies such as gender, sexuality, race & class
  • The gendering of cultural productions and representation
  • And much more!

Choose Career Paths Like:

  • Human Rights
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Social Work