North Central College - Naperville, IL

Gender and Women's Studies

Why choose Gender and Women's Studies at North Central?

At work or home, at the doctor’s office or in the voting booth, traveling transnationally or tweeting pop culture, the categories of gender and sex affect our daily lives. The Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) program explores questions that today’s leaders and informed citizens encounter. A few examples: What is the difference between sex and gender? How have terms like “women” and “men” historically been defined? How do people challenge gender scripts they feel pressured to perform? What does it mean to be an ally to people facing oppressions related to sex, gender, sexuality, etc? How do sex and gender intersect with race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, age, ability, nationality, etc? Whether you’re majoring in biology or marketing, theatre or education, political science or religious studies, business or English, we’ll help you build a résumé that tells employers and graduate schools that you’re serious about understanding identity and diversity in sophisticated ways. Whatever your major, GWS can help you make an impact in local and global communities.

You can also:

  • Participate in discussions on topics like women’s rights activism, gender-based violence, LGBTQI rights, reproductive health care, transgender identity, masculinity in performance, and religious perspectives on sex and gender.
  • Attend special presentations by visiting scholars and organizers at the forefront of 21st century developments in Gender and Women’s Studies.
  • Design an individualized major in Gender and Women’s Studies as preparation for graduate school.


North Central gains momentum in growth, reputation, value.
North Central College’s Science Center reached a construction milestone with the placement of a ceremonial final beam in Topping-Out Celebration March 14.
North Central College presents the two-person exhibit “Embracing Womanhood,” featuring the artwork of Grace Morris ’16 and Etienne Wenk ’17.



  • Sarah's Inn, Oak Park, IL
  • Domestic Violence Courthouse, Chicago

Graduate Schools

Recent graduates in gender and women's studies have been accepted at:

  • Emporia State University, Portland, OR
  • Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL


Recent graduates in gender and women's studies have worked at:

  • Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Aurora, IL
Interactive Media Studies major, Gender and Women’s Studies minor

Coming from a small town like Industry, IL, Candice fell in love with everything downtown Naperville had to offer. “North Central’s small school size, set in a city like Naperville, was perfect for me.”

Since arriving on campus, Candice has met her best friends and added Gender and Women’s Studies as a minor after taking GWS 100. She recommends the class to anyone who wants to explore a challenging topic. “This course brought up topics you would never consider related to gender,” she says.

To gain experience in the field, Candice is collaborating with a professor on research related to the portrayal of women in the media. “I’m majoring in interactive media studies and would love to tie my major...

Theatre major, Gender and Women's Studies minor

Frances has a long-standing interest in how gender affects interactions among people. When she enrolled in her first Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) course, she found that she loved the area of study. North Central’s GWS program is interdisciplinary and draws on faculty expertise and participation from across the curriculum. “I took one class taught by a theatre professor and another by a sociology professor,” says Frances, a theatre major.

“I decided to take more classes to learn more, which led me to adding the minor. Most important for me was learning about gender in different cultures across the world. It’s been eye-opening.”

North Central’s small campus environment and “personal attention...

Gender and women’s studies

After a women’s literature course, Jillian decided to fight the idea that women are “less than.” She knew she needed more than a global studies major.

“A gender and women’s studies minor helps to illuminate oppression, understand it and learn to combat it,” she says.

Jillian was a summer intern at World Relief in Aurora, a nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid across the globe. As the youth services intern, she mentored children and aided refugees in resettling.

Jillian plans to pursue a master’s degree in international affairs at Marquette University. Inspired by her experience at World Relief, she hopes to work for a nonprofit organization that helps oppressed women and...

Political Science major, Gender and Women's Studies minor

Like many students who take "Women and Men in Society" to fulfill a general education requirement, Kelly was exposed to ideas she had never before considered. By the end of the course, she was hooked on gender and women’s studies. "I had always been interested in women's rights,” she says, “but I didn't realize how much I was interested until I took that class." Through her close ties with faculty, Kelly secured an internship as a legal advocate in the Domestic Violence Courthouse in Chicago. That experience helped her discover her life's work. "I’m getting experience in the field that I would like to work in after graduation—legal advocacy for women," she says.

Individualized major in Gender and Women's Studies

Through North Central’s individualized major program, Anthony created his own curriculum that looked at gender and sexuality studies through the lenses of sociology, political science, history, psychology and biology.

“The interdisciplinary program gives you a well-rounded look at how gender affects our lives,” he says.

Anthony enjoys studying at North Central because it’s easy to learn outside the classroom. He’s worked with faculty members one-on-one and tries to attend as many guest presentations as possible.

“North Central does an amazing job of bringing in scholars and community members to discuss their experiences in the field, whether [the topic is] feminism, gender roles or LGBTQ...