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Gender Studies FAQ's

"Human life does not simply divide into two realms, nor does human character divide into two types. Our images of gender are often dichotomous, but the reality is not." - Connell, R. W.

What is gender?

The definition of gender is as fluid as gender itself...We can locate many diverse definitions of gender. Gender impacts everything and we all think we know what gender is…. Gender is not a matter of two opposite/other categories of people; female and male, but an array of social interactions among differently situated people. The word gender, as well as the categories “woman” and “man” have many valid meanings which we view from our location, history, and perspectives. Different genders, femininities, and masculinities are interconnected through social systems such as race, class, and culture.

One textbook definition follows: Gender is the practice of behaving in masculine or feminine ways as defined by the society in which one lives and as a component of one’s identity. Sex, in contrast is more related to physical form and function. In this sense, gender is a performance, something we do rather than something we are, and we learn it via the process of socialization (Donatelle, 2010). From birth, our gender identity development is impacted by our biology and our socialization, and combines to form our gender identity. How we are affected by our culture, geographic location, and overall environment will determine our gender.

Gender is biological and socially constructed and can be masculine, feminine, intersex, or even other categories that are not always so easily recognized. There are many names for the other categories and we may not list them all here, but just to name a few: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgendered, metrosexual, ubersexual, mems, fems, hermes, and perhaps others.

Why earn a minor or collatoral in gender studies?

 A Gender Studies minor or collateral will enhance many facets of your life. It serves the purpose of a minor or collateral. However, there is a bit of a difference, gender impacts every single component of your life. Education about gender will inform your ability to communicate with other members of the human race. Comprehending the differences among genders will provide insight and abilities to relate at higher levels effectively.

 Gender Studies education will facilitate your interpretation of the value and meaning of many interactions with parents, siblings, partners, children, co-workers, colleagues, supervisors, and people from other countries with different cultures than your own. In other words, many of your relationships will benefit if you have a better understanding of gender and its multiple influences on your life. Communication is something that we all do most every day with many types of people, and doing it well benefits all of those relationships.

 Gender education facilitates student development of a critical framework for thinking about questions relating to gender, and may include the following contemporary issues: femininity and masculinity theories; the social construction of gender; gender and the body; gender and culture; the biology and psychology of sex and sexuality; the dynamics of gender, language, representation, and interpretation; current and historical inquiries into the relationships between the sexes; institutional operation and development; gender role development; sexual orientation; sexual identity politics; queer theory; intersexuality theory; and other intersections of sex, gender, race, class, and sexuality. An emphasis will be placed on developing skills for reading, interpreting, and critiquing gender perspectives.

 In regard to employment, gender education is often a credential that employers are interested in, and will ask how gender education informs employee efficiency. People who have gender education develop into effective leaders because of their abilities to communicate with diverse populations effectively. Think of nurses, teachers, politicians, psychologists, sociologists, epidemiologists, physicians, veterinarians, biologists, scientists, bankers, all service workers, and many other professions.

 "Before I came to FMU I was a researcher and many times my gender education provided the extra line on my curriculum vitae that convinced them to choose me. Gender studies will supplement your education and benefit your life in many practical ways and some serendipitous ways as well."

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