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The Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington draws upon multiple strands of feminist thought to foreground transformative intersectional and transnational analyses of social formations such as race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality, as shaped in conjunction with local and global political and economic structures. The interdisciplinary research and teaching of GWSS extend across four overlapping focus points: Global Identity Formations; Decolonizing Empire; Feminist Knowledge Production & Radical Critique; and Building Social, Cultural, and Political Movements for Change.



  • Established in 1970 as Women Studies, the department changed its name to Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies (GWSS) in 2011 and recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
  • Two GWSS faculty members have won the prestigious UW Distinguished Teaching Award.
  • Our graduate program in Feminist Studies, established in 1998, was on of the first of its kind and remains highly regarded among the 23 current U.S. doctoral programs in the field of GWSS.
  • The department graduated its first two PhD students in 2006, and has granted a total of 34 PhD and 15 MA degrees as of Autumn 2022.
  • Four of our students (three graduate and one undergraduate) have received the College of Arts & Sciences Dean's Medal, in recognition of their exemplary scholarship and commitment to social justice.
  • A GWSS PhD alum has been awarded both a 2013 Grammy, for best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative album, and a 2022 MacArthur Fellowship/"Genius Grant."


Undergraduate majors


The Department offers BA and PhD degrees, as well as Graduate Certificates in Feminist Studies and Sexuality & Queer Studies.

Our undergraduate major trains students to analyze how gender and sexuality shape personal experiences and interlocking systems of power. By examining how gender and sexuality intersect with race, class, legal status and ability, students cultivate a deeper understanding of individual, social and political inequalities as well as movements for change. They ask urgent, critical questions and break down conventional academic assumptions, developing innovative methods for examining and addressing current issues in diverse local and global contexts. They apply their findings and gain real-world experience through a required internship and capstone project.

The graduate program prepares students for scholarly careers in feminist research and teaching in interdisciplinary gender, women, and sexuality studies and/or related disciplines at the university/college level. Our doctoral students represent the next generation of scholars trained in intersectional, decolonial, indigenous, queer, and transnational feminisms as forms of thought and praxis key to building more just societies.

Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies alumni are adept collaborators who have experience working in settings with diverse perspectives and critical agility in creatively addressing the world’s persistent and urgent problems. They use these skills in a variety of fields, including business, creative arts and humanities, education, government, health care, law, media and communication, nonprofit administration, psychology, public policy, and technology. Graduates of our doctoral program have taken tenure-track positions at major universities and liberal arts colleges, postdoctoral fellowships, research positions, directorships of Women’s Centers, and leadership positions in international organizations. They also have a strong presence working in cultural institutions, governmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations.


Autumn 2022

  • 59 Undergraduate majors
  • 48 Undergraduate minors
  • 16 Graduate students

Degrees Awarded

 July 2021 - June 2022

  • 24 Bachelor of Arts degrees
  • 2 PhD degrees
  • 2 Graduate Certificates

Major Student Awards


  • 1 China Studies Dissertation Fellowship
  • 1 GO-MAP Dissertation Fellowship
  • 1 Graduate School Distinguished Thesis Award
  • 1 Graduate School International Research & Study Fellowship
  • 1 Graduate School Presidential Dissertation Fellowship
  • 3 Graduate School Top Scholar Awards
  • 1 GSEE Foundry 10 Summer Support Award
  • 2 Harry Bridges Center Labor Studies Fellowships
  • 1 Husky 100 Award
  • 1 National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) First Book Prize
  • 1 College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Medal
  • 1 Simpson Center Pre-Doctoral Sawyer Seminar Fellowship
  • 1 Simpson Center Society of Scholars (Graduate Student) Fellowship
  • 1 South Asia Studies Fellowship
  • 1 Voices of Our Nations Arts (VONA) Fellowship
  • 3 GWSS Service Awards 
  • 5 Herring Phelps Scholarly Activism Awards 
  • 4 Herring Phelps Outstanding GWSS Senior Awards 
  • 4 Marie Doman Excellence in Teaching Awards 
  • 5 Pamela E. Yee Gender and Disability Studies Awards


Autumn 2022

  • 4 Professors
  • 5 Associate Professors
  • 1 Associate Teaching Professor
  • 2 Part-time Lecturers
  • 4 Professors Emerita
  • 45 Adjunct Faculty
  • 7 Affiliate Faculty

Faculty Awards & Honors


  • 1 Association for Asian Studies Joseph Levenson Book Prize
  • 1 Center for LGBTQ Studies (CLAGS) Fellowship
  • 1 Errol Hill Award for Outstanding Scholarship in African American Theatre Studies
  • 1 Harry Bridges Center Labor Course Development Grant
  • 1 James D. Clowes Award for the Advancement of Learning Communities
  • 1 Lambda Literary Award Finalist
  • 1 Norman Freehling Visiting Professor Fellowship
  • 1 Royalty Research Fund (RRF) Award
  • 1 Simpson Center Digital Humanities Summer Fellowship
  • 2 Simpson Center Second Book Fellowships
  • 2 Simpson Center Society of Scholars Faculty Fellowships


Our department has been at the cutting edge of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies since its establishment as an academic field. The scholarship and pedagogy of our faculty have consistently advanced critical analysis of gender and sexuality — in relation to race, class, and disability, in debates about U.S. Women of Color and transnational feminisms, and in terms of queer and trans studies.

GWSS at UW has long been reputed for scholarly expertise in women of color and transnational feminisms. While the department once distinguished itself among others in the U.S. through its social science orientation, we are now thoroughly interdisciplinary, with faculty whose scholarship is in dialogue with anthropology, art history, critical race studies, geography, history, labor studies, literature, media studies, medical humanities, music, performance studies, political science, urban studies, and science and technology studies, as well as Indigenous studies; Black and Africana studies; Chicanx, Latinx, and Latin American studies; and East Asian, South Asian, and Asian American studies.

Our research innovates and enlivens academic and public debates using books, articles, archive development, exhibit curation, digital media production, poetry, performance, and community engagement. Our histories of innovative public engagement are both wide and rich. Faculty have collaborated, for example, with the local Seattle Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) and Museum of Popular Culture (MoPOP), as well as the national Smithsonian Institution and international organizations such as Gender Dynamix (South Africa), the Hong Kong Arts Centre, and Hyderabad Urban Lab (India).

Social justice concerns have been central to our mission from the beginning. As individual scholars and as a department, our research is dedicated to the analysis of historical and contemporary intersectional feminist praxis in the realms of feminist technologies and creative practice; gender equality, queer, and trans rights; Indigenous, immigrant, labor, and environmental rights; prison abolition, Black Lives Matter, and anti-war movements; and other on- and offline mobilizations that advance justice-minded paradigms across the Global South and North and imagine new worlds.

Areas of Research

  • African/Africana Studies
  • Asian/Asian American Studies
  • Black Feminist Thought
  • Black Studies
  • Chicanx/Latinx Feminisms
  • Critical Feminist Data Studies
  • Critical Pedagogy
  • Critical Race Studies
  • Decolonial & Postcolonial Politics
  • Digital Humanities
  • Ethnography
  • Feminist Political Economy and Commodity Chain Studies
  • Feminist Studies in Science, Technology, and Medicine
  • Feminist Theory and Methods
  • Gender and History
  • Gender, Fandom, and Speculative Fiction
  • Globalization, Migration and Transnational Feminisms
  • Indigenous Studies
  • Labor Studies
  • Museology and Archive Studies
  • Oral History
  • Performance Studies
  • Poetry and Poetics
  • Popular Music
  • Public Scholarship
  • Queer Studies
  • Reproduction/Social Reproduction
  • Rural-Urban Informal Economies
  • Sexuality and Queer Studies
  • Transgender Studies
  • Urban Studies
  • Women and Violence
  • Visual Culture


Always responsive to community needs that create connections on and off campus, our department has developed public-facing programs such as Native Voices Indigenous Media, Womxn Who Rock, New Geographies of Feminist Art, The Black Embodiments Studio, and Abolitionist Futures & Intentional Kin-Making. GWSS also organizes an annual public lecture and campus visit by an invited Stice Feminist Scholar of Feminist Justice.

GWSS undergraduate majors work with a wide range of local organizations through our internship program.

Our quarterly departmental newsletter gives visibility to the work and achievements of our students, alumni, and faculty, as we continue to build a robust academic and activist network in the region and beyond.

Our Advancement and Communications Committee integrates community-building efforts with future development goals: to generate more sustainable and competitive graduate student funding; to support a more robust sexuality and queer studies program; and to create a feminist practices lab.


Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies
Box 354345
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-6900

last update: December 2022