LEXINGTON — The University of Kentucky has become one of only 20 universities in the United States to offer a Ph.D. in a rapidly expanding academic field — gender and women’s studies.
Professor and director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, Ellen Riggle, said, “As we see in the media every day, gender is at the core of politics and economics, language and performance. It is a hot topic among academics, and it impacts everyone. Its immediate relevance in our lives invokes interest among students and professors.”
Because of the increasing number of both undergraduate and master’s programs in gender and women’s studies, Riggle said that these programs need faculty trained in scholarship of the field.
“The demand in this area is rapidly growing,” Riggle said. “Ph.Ds in gender and women’s studies are also in demand in the nonprofit sector, international development work, government agencies, and as supplements to professional law, business and medical degrees. Employers are looking for well-developed critical and analytical skills, and that is part of what we provide with a Ph.D. — those crucial skills can be used to assess complicated issues and help people locally and globally.”
The field of gender and women’s studies began to develop more than 40 years ago as an academic innovation that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries. Combining several scholarship areas into one doctoral program provides students with opportunities to examine topics from a variety of intellectual perspectives, using different analytical tools.
“Gender plays a role in inquiry in all disciplines, from the arts and humanities to education, and from social sciences to the ‘hard’ sciences,” Riggle said. “Gender and women’s studies at UK has a diverse faculty core with strengths including the study of the body of contemporary culture and the media, gendered violence, masculinities, the politics of reproduction, queer theory and sexualities.”
The program also includes affiliated faculty with a broad range of research expertise from departments across the university.
The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies has had an active graduate certificate specialization since 1994; since that time it has awarded more than 130 certificates to students from across the university.
“We are the first department in the state of Kentucky and the SEC to offer a Ph.D. in gender and women’s studies,” Riggle said. “We are ahead of most of our benchmark institutions in offering a Ph.D. This sets UK apart and moves us forward in the educational and intellectual opportunities that we offer students.”
The program is currently accepting applications.