In a move to make the university more inclusive, the West Virginia University Center for Women’s Studies has a new name: The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

“Our new name reflects the mission of this program to identify and support women and social diversity in our communities and society as a whole,” said Ann Oberhauser, director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. “This change stems from advances in women’s and gender studies scholarship and activism that recognize the important role of gender, sexuality and feminism.”

Negative stereotypes of feminism are being replaced by a broader recognition of the importance of gender equality and diversity in society. The incorporation of “gender” implies an investigation of how femininity and masculinity are socially defined, as well as how these social identities implore us to examine gender as an integral part of political, economic and cultural institutions.

The center’s founder, Judith Stitzel, believes that exploring and understanding the concept of gender is not only about exploding stereotypes but also allowing for a new understanding of body, mind, nature and spirit.

“What’s in a name?” she asks.

“In the case of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, the answer is nothing less than a better future for women and men, boys and girls around the world,” Stitzel said.

Danielle Davidov, who received a graduate certificate in women’s studies in 2010, currently works in the Department of Emergency Medicine at WVU. She feels the name change preserves the focus on women as a population warranting special attention but opens the door for inclusion and discussion of any and all gender issues.

The change in the center’s name is just one of a number of changes happening at WVU and within the field of feminist scholarship. More students are drawn to the diverse array of offerings within the center, including courses in not only feminist theory and women’s studies, but on men and masculinities, and a new minor in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer studies.

The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies supports teaching, research and advocacy that is based on feminist perspectives and centered on analyses of gender and its intersection with race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, age and ability.

For more information, contact the Center at



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