“Gender Studies”, what is that?

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This week has been pretty stressful: I had to submit my final assignment to validate the second course of my semester. It was a 3.000 words essay about a topic I was free to choose. I decided to write about “Discrimination against veiled Muslim women in the French labour market”. I have always been curious about the origins of inequalities between people. Where do sexism, racism and all other types of discrimination stem from ? That is what “Gender Studies” are all about.

What do Gender Studies consist in?

First, “Gender Studies” claims to be a transdiscplinary academic field: its aim is to apply a gendered framework to whatever other existing academic field. When I am reading scientific literature for my classes, I can be reading sociological and psychological experiments, as well as linguistic or medical papers – I must admit, being from a social sciences background these lasts are sometimes complicated for me to understand.

Studying Gender Studies originally means studying the roots of inequalities between genders. In order to do that, “Gender

Gender equality symbol. Copyright: Pixabay/janeb13.

Studies” traditionally analyze gendered representations and power dynamics in society and their influence on human behavior and psychology.

But, more recently, Gender Studies went further and extended their way of understanding inequalities beyond gender. They included other parts of human identity, such as social class, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age etc. Nowadays, studying Gender Studies means studying all oppressions – sexism but also racism or homophobia for instance – and working on deconstructing what we think is “the social norm” when it comes to identity.

Gender Studies are not all about gender

In 1989, American jurist Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the concept of “Intersectionality”. According to her research analyzing the social position of Black women in the United States, she demonstrated they were undergoing a “double discrimination”: not only as women or as Black persons, but as Black women altogether.

Since then, intersectionality has been widely used in Gender studies and applied to analyse the social position of different populations such as disabled women – intersection between ableism (discrimination against disabled people) and sexism – or even white middle-class men (intersection between male, class and white privileges).

Gender is of course still a cornerstone of Gender Studies, but it is now often analyzed in relation to other oppressions and types of discrimination.

If you are looking for a Gender Studies program for complete “beginners” LiU’s online master is not the right one.

So far I’ve had two courses: “Introduction to Intersectionality” and

“Exploring Intersectionality”. Both were very interesting and being already familiar with Crenshaw’s concept, it allowed be to go further in my reflection.

What I liked about the LiU Gender Studies master program was that it was very specific. Indeed, its full title is “Gender, Intersectionality and Change“. This means, I was not going to study basic Gender Studies courses but deepening my understanding about gender and other inequalities. If you are looking for a Gender Studies program for complete “beginners” LiU’s online master is not the right one.

However, if you are looking for a program to keep studying or working with gender, identity and inequality issues, this can be a good way to go further into these topics. Many of my classmates are studying this master along with a full-time job – which can be difficult – and are doing it in order to specialize in gender, while remaining in their field. And since it is online, it’s very practical: you can organize your study and work times as you want.

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Hej allihopa !

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Hej allihopa ! (Hello everyone)

My name is Marie and I am studying Gender Studies at Linköping University. The complete name of my program is “Gender, Intersectionality and Change” and it is all online. “If it’s distance learning, why did she decide to move to Sweden then ?” you might wonder. My choice to leave France, my home country, for Sweden is deeply rooted in my former experience as an exchange student in Uppsala University (in the North of Sweden). I will now explain all about it !

Why Sweden ?

Two years ago, when I came back from my Erasmus year in Uppsala, I knew I would come back to Sweden – it was just a matter of time. I had always been intrigued and fascinated by this country and my year there had been really eye- and mind-opening. So when I have been done with my first master in Journalism last June, I decided to take the opportunity to study a second master in Sweden, in Gender Studies.

Why Gender Studies ?

I discovered Gender Studies during my year in Uppsala. There, I studied some basic courses and it encouraged me to dig deeper into certain subjects revolving around identity and feminist theories in social sciences. During my two-year master in Journalism in France, I taught myself about feminism concepts, such as intersectionality*. Studying a second master in Gender Studies became an obvious choice.

Why Gender Studies in Linköping, Sweden ?

I knew I wanted to move back to Sweden and I knew that if I was to study a second master, it would be in Gender Studies. Combining the two was obvious. So, I looked for Swedish master programs in Gender Studies, and found the “Gender, Intersectionality and Change” program at Linköping University. It was PER-FECT. Indeed, I was not looking for a global program tackling basic gender studies topics, but a program allowing me to go deeper into my reflection around feminism and identity. The fact that it was online did not draw my attention at first, I realized it way after and it was actually a good thing : I could work besides, and organize my time as I wanted. So here I am, enjoying Swedish life and studying a topic I am passionate about !

I hope I made you more curious about Sweden, Linköping University and Gender Studies,

Hejdå (bye),

Marie

* I will explain this concept in a later post about my studies. For now, you can learn more about it here: https://www.genus.se/en/wordpost/intersectionality/

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