Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) will begin offering in Fall 2017, a new Associate in Arts degree program in Gender and Women's Studies.
Graduates of the program will be on track to transfer to the Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, and the Bachelor of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies at Brooklyn College, CUNY.
Sangeeta Bishop, Chairperson of the Social Sciences, Criminal Justice and Human Services Department, and Hollis Glaser, Professor and former Chairperson of the Speech, Communications and Theatre Arts Department, initiated the development of the Gender and Women's Studies degree program.
Brianne Waychoff, a professor in the Speech, Communications and Theatre Arts Department, and Amy Sodaro, a professor in the Social Sciences, Human Services and Criminal Justice Department, led a committee that created the proposal.
The proposal committee included Professors C. Ray Borck, Melissa Brown and Jamie Warren of the Social Sciences, Criminal Justice and Human Services Department; Professor Olivia Cousins of the Health Education Department; Professors Page Delano and Cheryl Fish of the English Department; Professor and Librarian Lane Glisson of the A. Philip Randolph Memorial Library; Professor Patricia Mathews-Salazar of the Center for Ethnic Studies; Director Deborah Parker of the Women’s Resource Center, and Professors Helen Huff and Naida Zukic of the Speech, Communications and Theatre Arts Department.
An interdisciplinary major that builds retention
“Because Gender and Women’s Studies is an interdisciplinary major, it fosters critical thinking skills in students who will address the social constructs and realities gender presents today and throughout history,” says Professor Waychoff. “At BMCC, students have responded enthusiastically to women’s studies courses, and now they can focus their interest in a more organized course of study, one that supports their higher education and career goals.”
“This has been a long time coming,” she adds. “We have been exploring the relevance of gender studies at BMCC as far back as Fall 2000, when Professors Cheryl Fish and Tricia Lin led a forum on the scholarship and pedagogy of women's and gender studies on our campus.”
According to Erwin Wong, BMCC Dean for Academic Programs, the Gender and Women’s Studies program will raise awareness of intellectual, political and social issues in relationship to gender, as well as enhance student retention, persistence and graduation.
“As a niche Liberal Arts program, Gender and Women’s Studies majors will connect with faculty and advisors and become engaged,” he says. “This will motivate them to persist, earn their associate degree and transfer to a senior institution where they will continue to pursue their academic and intellectual interests.”
Career options for GWS graduates
Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) graduates will have a wide spectrum of career opportunities, says Waychoff. She herself earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. minor in women’s studies, and found the critical skills and perspective she gained to be a significant advantage as she pursued work as a community organizer and editorial professional, and now, as a professor.
“Gender and Women's Studies is a major that provides flexibility and enhances skills that can be applied to careers in counseling, education, business administration, law, journalism, market-analysis, television production, union organizing and many others,” she says.
Having a background in Gender and Women’s Studies, Waychoff adds, allows for better collaboration and leadership in the workplace.
“It relates strongly to communication,” she says. “Gender affects everyone in their daily lives, and a field of study in this area will resonate across cultures as it explores privilege, oppression and other issues of power especially relevant to our students.”