History of Women's and Gender Studies

We are the only department in the country (to our knowledge) with THREE Ph.D.’s IN women’s & gender studies Dr. Tabassum Ruby, hired in 2016, Dr. Liam Lair, hired in 2017, and Dr. Justin Sprague, hired in 2019.  And this takes away nothing from our other dedicated Women’s (and Gender) Studies hires! Dr. Lisa Huebner, joint hire in Women’s Studies and Sociology/Anthropology in 2007, Dr. Simon Ruchti, joint hire in Women’s & Gender Studies and Philosophy in 2011, and Dr. Martha Donkor, joint hire in History and Women’s & Gender Studies in 2014. 

West Chester University’s Women’s Studies Program/Women’s & Gender Studies Department has been a member of the Greater Philadelphia Women’s Studies Consortium for many years.  Made of 13 schools in the area.  WCU has benefitted from our relationship with GPWSC by being able to host events for the sponsored visits by internationally renowned Scholars-in-Residence Dr. Chandra Talpade Mohanty (2017), Ruth Wilson Gilmore (2014), Heidi Hartmann (2013), Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (2012), Karen Barad (2011), Audrey Kobayashi (2010), Kate Bornstein (2009), Patricia Williams (2008), Afsaneh Najmabadi (2007), Raka Ray (2007), Janet Jakobsen (2006), Cherrie Moraga (2005), Cynthia Enloe (2004), Octavia Butler (2003), Anne Fausto-Sterling (2002), and Patricia Hill Collins (1995). We have, over the years, also hosted public lectures by Jean Franco, Barbara Ehrenreich, Akasha Gloria Hull, and Susan Bordo, amongst others. In 1990, Anne Dzamba, Madelyn Gutwirth, Lynette McGrath, and Stacey Schlau published an article that describes the early days of Women’s Studies at West Chester.  See the full article .

View the History of Women's and Gender Studies Prezi Presentation

Dr. Madelyn Gutwirth,

The attached picture is of Dr. Madelyn Gutwirth, Foreign Languages, and founder of the Women’s Studies program at West Chester State College (l.) with Dr. Anne (Sessa) Dzamba, History, and Women’s Studies (circa 1975).  (P205_g)

Mary Keefe, Mary McCullough, and Jane Swan

Mary Keefe on the left.  Mary McCullough (Social Work) in the middle.  Jane Swan (History), first director of the Women’s Center, on the right.  Mary was director after Jane.  Mary Keefe. was faculty in early childhood, and these were amongst the small but growing # of feminists on campus in the late ‘70s.



First women’s studies class


Women’s Center established primarily to serve nontraditional women students


Women’s Center now serves all students


Women’s Center opens day care center


Institute for Women—Madelyn Gutwirth and Pamela Hemphill found—houses Women’s Center and Women’s Studies program.

Sample meeting agenda, documenting the stress of the work


Women’s Studies Program establishes minor


Establishment of the Commission on the Status of Women

View 1991 Quad Article


Campus activism related to sexual harassment

View 1993 Quad Article


Harassment Taskforce appointed


New WCU sexual harassment policy


Women’s Studies establishes major (8 students in the program)


We graduate our first two majors


First full-time 9-month director of Women’s Center hired; full time 12-month director hired in 2014


Women’s Studies changes name to Women’s & Gender Studies


President’s Commission on the Status of Women re-instated


WGS becames a department

Women’s Center changes name to Center for Women & Gender Equity


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