Women and Gender Studies at the University of Delaware was founded in 1972 making it one of the first (and oldest) programs in the United States. It began, like many programs across the United States, with a small group of women, and some men, who were determined to infuse feminism into their own courses. Inspired by the feminist movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the needs expressed by women students on campus, in 1971 Mae Carter, often considered the founder of women’s studies at UD, convened an advisory committee. Simultaneously, faculty were beginning to experiment with courses; the first course in women’s studies was taught as a special topics course during winter session. In the fall of 1972 the group of 19 faculty organized the first official women’s studies course. It was offered to 95 students and staff. Quickly, the faculty on the advisory committee realized that teaching courses in women’s studies as “overload” or “extra” not only “ghettoized” women’s studies, but was not sustainable. In 1974, the program in women’s studies was established and the provost appointed its first director.  The program had no faculty lines but it did offer courses under the WOMS designation and a minor. Finally, in 2011, the department of women & gender studies was established, and included permanent as well as visiting faculty lines, a major and several minors. Fifty years later, the faculty has grown to twelve permanent or continuing professors. And, women and gender studies courses reach hundreds of students annually;  2000 take courses each year, 200 formally affiliate with our programs as majors, minors, and concentrators and by earning certificates.

Themes of UD Through the Decades

To explore the rich 50 year history of Women & Gender Studies in more depth, click through the themes to explore how reproductive justice, gender-based violence, racial justice, and LGBTQ+ rights and representation have changed within and alongside the Women & Gender Studies department at UD over 50 years as well as how the department has changed and developed itself.

Click on each icon to visit the page for that theme:

Reproductive Justice

Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Violence

Racial Justice

LGBTQ+ Rights and Representation

The Department

This video provides an overview of the forty-year history of Women’s Studies Interdisciplinary Program at the University of Delaware. Created from interviews conducted for the Women and Gender Studies Department’s Oral History Project, the video includes reflections from current and former faculty, chairs and founders, as well as graduating students about the history and significance of Women’s Studies at UD.