Men benefit from taking women’s studies courses

Students listen to a lesson during Assistant Professor Harlan Weaver's women's studies class in Leasure Hall on Feb. 8, 2016. (Jessica Robbins | The Collegian)

Men in the women’s studies program at K-State have the opportunity to gain a new perspective and understand more of what a woman’s experience might be like, Allen Mallory, graduate student in women’s studies, said.

“I think that these classes are a good way to help learn how to connect with another person and start to understand their experience,” Mallory said.

Males are the minority within the women’s studies program, making up 10 percent of those who receive a major, minor or graduate certificate, according to Angela Hubler, women’s studies interim department head.

Hubler said the reason for this is because “the majority of people don’t understand what we do in women’s studies.”

The women’s studies program at K-State focuses on analyzing how gender and other related institutions of inequality in society affect and shape individuals, according to the women’s studies department’s website. The department studies how gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and class all intersect and impact an individual’s experience.

According to Hubler, some students do not know what to expect in a women’s studies class because it is unlike other courses. She said she often finds students who feel they have benefited from taking the class in more ways than they expected.

Harlan Weaver, assistant professor in women’s studies, said the reason more women than men are in the program could be because “it’s intimidating to be in a room of women and not necessarily have an intuitive grasp of what’s going on.”

Mallory said it could be because more women are interested in learning about other women’s experiences, but he said he would still encourage men and women alike to take women’s studies courses in order to gain a new understanding and to look at society in a different way.

Women’s studies classes helped him “make more sense of differences between men and women,” including their interactions and roles in society, Mallory said.

For example, Mallory said in his women’s studies courses, they examined the expectations society sets for men and women and how they are portrayed in certain ways.

Hubler said students who get involved in the women’s studies program often have an interest in social justice and making the world a better place.

“Our goal is to provide students with the tools to do this kind of analysis to think critically about society,” Hubler said.

Weaver said he has witnessed his male students grow as young activists and thinkers. He said it is important that men and women both understand the concepts of inequality discussed in women’s studies courses.

A major, minor or graduate certificate in women’s studies opens the door to several different career paths, including social work, journalism, health, law and education, according to the WorldWideLearn article “Women’s Studies Majors Guide.”

Mallory said women’s studies classes challenge students to think about things that are not necessarily addressed in other places or things that are simply overlooked.