WGST 100 – Women and Gender Studies

This survey course will introduce students to Women's Studies as an interdisciplinary field. A wide range of issues, some of which are controversial, will be explored from historical, political, and societal perspectives and through a variety of media.


Credits: 3


Hours: 45 (Lecture Hours: 3)


Total Weeks:15




Non-Course Prerequisites:




Course Content:
Women and Gender Studies 100 offers a progressive examination of the position of women in Canadian society. The course will introduce students to Women’s Studies as an interdisciplinary field in which issues are explored from historical, political and sociological perspectives. We will begin by considering western feminist ideas and action from the Enlightenment to the second wave as the foundation for modern feminist issues. We will then examine themes of contemporary importance to Canadian women, including sexuality and the body, paid and unpaid labour, race and class, violence towards women, globalization, and women and culture. Throughout the term we will also consider application to these themes by the major theoretical schools of feminist thought, including liberal, socialist, Marxist, radical, global and post-modern feminisms.
History of Liberal Feminism
- The Enlightenment
- Meritocracy and equal opportunity
- The marriage debate
- Legal position of women under coverture
- Inheritance laws
- Formal education of women
Modern Liberal Feminism
- Woman’s suffrage
- The Person’s Case (1929)
- The Royal Commission on the Status of Women (1970)
- Advances and limitations of liberal feminism
Gender and the Family, Socialist and Marxist Feminism
- Capitalist economic systems
- Unpaid labour
- Co-providers to wage-earners
- Colonized structures of labour
- Division of labour and double load
- Same-sex families
- Heteronormativity
- Discourse of romance and intimacy
- Poverty and the family
- Lone-parent families (social threat and social problem discourses)
Education and Work
- Part-time employment
- The wage gap
- Parental leave
- Labour force segregation and pay differentials
- “Pink-collar ghetto”
- Polarization of jobs
- Shift to a service economy
- Working poor
- Neo-liberalism and family policy
Global Feminism and Globalization
- Global activism and NGOs
- Fundamentalism and capitalism
- Global feminisms
Third-Wave and Post-Modern Feminism
- Post-feminist movement
- Poststructuralism and postmodernism
- Young feminism
- Rethinking gender and the body
- Transgender politics
Beauty and Aging
- Politics of appearance
- Status of aging women, beauty as youth
- Eating disorders
- Pornography
- Fashion industry and cosmetic surgery
- Double standards in biomedical research
Violence against Women
- Sexual and physical abuse
- Spousal and child abuse
- Femicide
- Sexual harassment


Learning Outcomes:
WGST 100 should help students attain the necessary skills to read and to write about gender issues in an academic manner and to pique interest in women’s history and the politics of gender in today’s society. By the end of WGST 100 students should be able to:
- Explain the significance of Enlightenment feminism and the progress of liberal feminism to the twenty-first century
- Trace the development of first-wave feminism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Canada, including the woman’s suffrage movement
- Describe the historical struggles of women, including second-wave activism, in the areas of property rights, education, and workplace legislation
- Explain the relations between gender, race, disability and class in Canadian society
- Apply the theories of the major theoretical schools of feminist thought to social issues, including the politics of women’s sexuality, the workplace (both paid and unpaid), motherhood, violence against women, women and aging, gender socialization, and globalization
- Delineate the debate between social determinists and genetic determinists as it applies to gender identity (nature vs. nurture debate).


Grading System: Letters


Passing Grade: D (50%)


Percentage of Individual Work: 100


Textbooks are subject to change. Please contact the bookstore at your local campus for current book lists.