What Can I Do With My Women’s Studies Degree?

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My uncle once joked that there may not be many men in a women’s studies class, but many men major in women’s studies – they just never really graduate from it.

Women’s studies affects all of us – it’s not only applicable to an academic setting. These courses take a calculating look at how sex and gender shape and influence the lives of men and women – historically, geographically, you name it.

In Manitoba, women make only 72 cents for every dollar a man makes. The numbers only worsen when we look at statistics matching women of colour. When you find mostly men’s sports on television or women dominating an industry, you’re observing trends and realities that a women’s studies major could really bring light to.

So how can you prepare while in school? Get involved as much as you can. Attend conferences and meet new people; connections can lead to a job.

Lesley Tarasoff, a graduate of women’s studies, suggests starting your own club: “This is what I did. Bishop’s University now has a Diversity & Equity Centre because students concerned about social justice came together and made it happen.” She also recommends volunteering at a local shelter, women’s centre, hospital or non-profit organization.

Changing your mind? The skills you learn as a student of women’s studies can apply almost anywhere that involves working with people. Your project management, critical thinking, presentation skills and dedication to fairness and equity will be valued by any employer.

Sounds awesome, right? But where can you apply your skills?

Related jobs: health care worker, lawyer, professor, public affairs specialist, research officer

Related fields: administration, anthropology, business, counseling, education, health care, international studies, law, museums, philosophy, psychology, social work, visual arts

Melody Izadi

Student (LLB, law degree) at Queen Mary, University of London
Honours Bachelor of Arts in Criminology, Women’s Studies and Political Science at the University of Toronto

I have always wanted to become a lawyer and thus my undergraduate studies were geared towards my intention to practice law defending human rights, especially for women of colour and other minorities.

I want to become a human rights barrister or solicitor in London. I moved here to get closer to my dream and I’m currently applying for summer internships for this upcoming summer and training contracts for 2012 with prominent human rights/immigration firms in central London.

My desired job is very related to my field. The criminology program at U of T gave me essential skills in reading and researching cases. Reading judgements and comparing and contrasting them with each other to reach a conclusion on the state of the criminal law is an important skill to have. Now, at Queen Mary, the law program not only teaches me how to read and research cases in even further depth but it has also developed my ability to think on my feet and rationally in pressure situations. In a law tutorial, the professor will call on you for a reasoned response that must be formulated quickly. Thus, I have to ensure that I have prepared extensively for the tutorial and that I understand the material enough to answer a question. Having this work ethic and quick thinking ability will be essential when working on any case. Obtaining an LLB will help me get where I need to be!

 

Lesley Tarasoff

Member of the “Re:searching for LGBTQ Health” team in the Health Systems and Health Equity Research Section at the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH)
Bachelor of Arts in Honours History, Major Sociology, Women’s Studies Option at Bishop’s University
Master’s in Women and Gender Studies, Collaborative Graduate Program in Women’s Health at the University of Toronto

Women and Gender Studies (WGS) is about social justice, equity, anti-oppression and complicated and sometimes-conflicting identity politics. WGS is about questioning how things came to be, questioning dominant meta-narratives of history, questioning norms. WGS draws attention to the voices and experiences of those who are often excluded. WGS as a discipline is very theoretical. WGS is not just about women or gender but about various complex and often intersecting identities and thus experiences – failing to recognize this, that women are not a homogenous group, was one of the biggest flaws of the early women’s movement. I studied WGS because I am committed to social justice and equity.

I really lucked out with the job I have now at CAMH. I originally applied to volunteer at Women’s College Hospital but because of my connections, the interconnectedness of many of Toronto’s hospitals, and the fact that researchers are often affiliated with many institutions, I ended up volunteering as a research assistant for Dr. Lori Ross at CAMH instead. Within three days, I was offered a job. Toronto is the place to be if you are interested in women’s and minority health. I found a job that is relevant to my degree, has allowed me to make various connections (academic and community) and develop my research skills. Moreover, I am doing work that I truly believe in. The work I am doing makes a difference in my community.

My degree definitely prepared me for my job. It gave me the critical thinking skills and other relevant skills to be productive and insightful on my job. Because most of the people I work with come with more health-related backgrounds (psychology, health promotion, etc.), I believe my critical theoretical WGS background really adds to our work.

 

Ann Pollard

Bilingual Accounts Receivable
Double Major Political Science and Women’s Studies at Glendon College, York University

I enjoyed learning about the way our government worked and the role that women played in contemporary society. It was great to learn the nuances of what it means to live in a globalized society with traditional roles becoming more blurred.

I put a resume posting online basically highlighting how diverse and hirable my degree combination made me. I stated how flexible and adaptable I was because of all the complex coursework that was required in women’s studies and because of that I could apply myself to any task and would be able to succeed. Thanks to the bilingual nature of Glendon, I was well prepared for a bilingual job.

My current job is completely unrelated to what I studied. I was prepared to write and research well and when I have been called to do that I have been able to be successful. The accounting side of things has been a learning process in the sense that I have learned everything as I have come across it. The good thing about having such a liberal degree is that it prepares you for learning on the fly.

 

Click here to find out what you can do with your degree.

 

Photo credit: WalkMile024 by Dawn – Pink Chick on Flickr in reference to
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes – International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence
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About the author

Marisa Baratta loves writing, especially about topics pertaining to environmental change, animal issues, human rights and health. She loves helping others and wants to make a positive difference in the world. She is always working on publishing her books, which seek to inspire and incite laughter. She has been published in the National Post, t.o. night newspaper and on several online magazines. She completed a BA with a specialization in English and a bilingual certificate before studying Book and Magazine Publishing at Centennial College. She lives with her family and two cats (can you spot one of them in the picture?).