Women, Gender and Sexuality

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

PhD students at UC Berkeley may add a Designated Emphasis (DE) in Women, Gender, and Sexuality (DEWGS) to their major fields. Designed to enhance interdisciplinary graduate studies at Berkeley, the DEWGS provides curricular and research resources and opportunities to students who are already admitted to graduate degree programs on campus.

The designated emphasis program was developed to accommodate some of the many students who conduct graduate-level research in gender and/or sexuality related topics across numerous fields. Administered by the Department of Gender and Women's Studies, the designated emphasis program provides its students with certification as well as with a context for the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and development of research.

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To be admitted to the Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality, an applicant must already be accepted into a PhD program at the University of California, Berkeley. For further information regarding admission to graduate programs at UC Berkeley, please see the Graduate Division's Admissions website.

Applicants for the DE will be selected according to their academic qualifications, the appropriateness of their interests to the program's teaching resources, and the enrollment capacity of its graduate seminars. Graduate students should apply in their third semester for admission to the program in their fourth semester. Students must apply before completing their qualifying examinations.

Materials should include four copies of the following:

  1. A one-page statement of purpose which includes: your academic training in the field of Gender/Sexuality Studies, a short description of your dissertation project, and your stated interest in the DE.
  2. One letter of recommendation from your home department faculty indicating readiness to complete the DE requirements (letter can be mailed under separate cover or emailed).
  3. A gender/sexuality relevant writing sample (25 pages or less).
  4. A curriculum vitae.

Deadline for spring admission: October 30 (If October 30 falls on a weekend, please submit materials the following Monday.)

Send all application materials to:
c/o Gender & Women's Studies Department
608 Barrows Hall
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-1070

Designated Emphasis Requriements


GWS 200Theory and Critical Research4
GWS 220Research Seminar4
One 200-level elective seminar in the Department of Gender & Women's Studies

Students may petition the DEWGS director to use a gender or sexuality-focused graduate course taught outside GWS to fulfill the elective requirement. That request must include a copy of the course syllabus and a cover letter indicating how that course was directly related to your studies in DEWGS (assigned readings, research focus, or paper completed). GWS 200 and GWS 220 can not be substituted by other classes.

Students admitted to the designated emphasis program should enroll in the required introductory seminar (GWS 200) offered the following spring if possible, and must complete that seminar before taking their qualifying exams. Students must fulfill the aforementioned requirements before completion of the degree.

Qualifying Examination

A member of the GWS department or its affiliated faculty must be on the qualifying examination committee; a topic on women, gender, and sexuality must be on the qualifying examination.


A member of the GWS department or its affiliated faculty must be on the dissertation committee.

Degree Conferral

The DE will be acknowledged solely in conjunction with the PhD in an established PhD program and will be signified by the transcript and diploma designation, “PhD in [major] with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality.” The GWS department also provides each DE graduate with a DEWGS medal at the GWS commencement ceremonies.

Research Resources


Students admitted to the DEWGS Program can apply for stipends to support research and activities related to their participation in the program. Awards are made available once a year in the fall. The total budget for graduate student stipends varies each year; individual awards can be up to $500.

Purpose of the Stipends

The stipends are intended to provide a source of funding for students in the DEWGS to engage in DEWGS-related activities or to pursue DEWGS scholarship. As such, it is for projects that are outside of the normal range of your home department activities. Examples would be: travel to conferences or workshops that focus on gender or sexuality; travel to an archive or field work site for the purpose of engaging in gender or sexuality-related scholarship; purchase of primary research materials that are necessary for your gender-related project and are not readily available on campus. Deadline to apply: October 30. (If October 30 falls on the weekend, please submit materials the following Monday.)

Application Procedure

Download the electronic application from the program's website and forward the completed form to:
DEWGS Graduate Student Affairs Officer
Althea Grannum Cummings

You do not need letters of recommendation.

Evaluation Criteria

The executive committee of the DEWGS will meet shortly after each deadline to decide which applications to fund. Evaluation will be based on the following considerations:

  1. Does the student have a well-defined use for the stipend, and has the student documented the specific costs involved?
  2. Does the student have a previous history of DEWGS funding, and if so in what amount? Students who have never received funding will be given the highest priority.
  3. Has the student exhausted other avenues of funding including their home department and Graduate Division?
  4. Would the funds contribute to the student's intellectual growth and/or professionalization in DEWGS scholarship?
  5. Is the project clearly a DEWGS related project which would not be likely to be funded elsewhere?

Receiving Your Award

You will be notified by email immediately after the committee has met as to whether you received a stipend or not. In the event that your application was successful, you will be given instructions on how to receive your stipend. If your application was not successful, your message will contain an indication of why it did not succeed.

Teaching Opportunities

GWS provides GSI opportunities for DE Students to assist the instructor of record for:

GWS 10Introduction to Gender and Women's Studies4
GWS 20Introduction to Feminist Theory4
GWS 195Gender and Women's Studies Senior Seminar4
LGBT 20ACAlternative Sexual Identities and Communities in Contemporary American Society4

 Calls for applications go out every semester via the DE listserv, and all DE students are encouraged to apply.


Women, Gender and Sexuality

GWS 200 Theory and Critical Research 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2018, Spring 2017, Spring 2016
This course will provide an opportunity for the examination of diverse feminist theories produced in different disciplines and across disciplines. The course will ground contemporary philosophical and theoretical developments in the study of gender to specific histories of class, race, ethnicity, nation, and sexuality. Participants in the class will be urged to draw upon their own disciplinary and interdisciplinary backgrounds and interests
to produce multifaceted analyses of how feminist theory has acted to delimit the study of women in some instances as well as how it may be used critically and imaginatively to open the field in complex and dynamic ways. Graduate students research and write a substantial (25-50 page) paper for the course. They will also participate in organizing and leading class discussion on a rotating basis.
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GWS 210 Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Fall 2016
A cross-disciplinary examination of specific problems in the study of gender, women, and sexuality. Topics will vary; for example, representations of motherhood, women in the public sphere, work and gender, globalization of gender, and the history of sexuality.

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GWS 220 Research Seminar 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2018, Spring 2017, Spring 2016
Members of the seminar will present their ongoing dissertation research and mutually explore the interdisciplinary dimensions and implications of their work.

Research Seminar: Read More [+]

GWS 230 Transnational Feminist Theories 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2012, Fall 2011, Spring 2010
The aim of this course is to provide graduate students with an understanding of transnational feminist theories so that they may more effectively engage with this area of scholarship, but moreover so that they may critically and creatively contribute to it through their own writing.

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GWS 231 Proseminar in Transnational Gender and Women's Studies 1 Unit

Terms offered: Prior to 2007
Designed to encourage dialogue around themes related to transnational gender and women's studies, this proseminar is organized around colloquia, panels, and conferences sponsored by the Department of Gender and Women's Studies, the Beatrice Bain Research Group, the Center for Race and Gender, the Center for the Study of Sexual Cultures, and (as relevant) other campus units.

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GWS 232 Transnational Feminist Approaches to Knowledge Production 4 Units

Terms offered: Prior to 2007
This course focuses on incorporating the analytic power of transnational feminist studies in academic reserch projects and practices. It examines the ways in which interdisciplinary and transnational approaches to gender and wormen replicate, challenge, reconfigure, and transform the emergence of new knowledge frames, analytics, and research practices. Students in this course will explore these and other questions in the context of their own research projects.

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GWS 235 Capitalism, Gender and the Present Moment 4 Units

Terms offered: Not yet offered
Capitalism is often seen as a system that overrides everything in its path. However, a closer look at its development suggests that it emerged and still operates within and in relation to gender and racial domination, reconstituting those meanings and systems in turn. In this seminar, we will investigate that imbrication, exploring the role and constitution of gender and race in ongoing primitive accumulation, in the labor of social reproduction, and in the unfolding
of the neoliberal present. Over the course of the semester, we will explore exploitation’s ongoing operations amid a broad terrain of appropriation by other means.
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GWS 236 Diaspora, Border, and Transnational Identities 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2016, Fall 2013, Fall 2011
This course will study debates around the notions of home, location, migrancy, mobility, and dislocation by focusing on issues of gender and sexuality. We will examine the ways in which various cultural flows have fundamentally challenged and changed the nature of global economy by expanding mobility of capital, labor, and systems of representations in a transnational context. We will also look at the impact of new technologies in production, distribution
, communication, and circulation of cultural meanings and social identites by linking nationalism, immigration, diaspora, and globalization to the process of subject formation in a postcolonial context.
Diaspora, Border, and Transnational Identities: Read More [+]

GWS 237 Transnational Science, Technology, and New Media 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2010, Fall 2008
This is a core class of the new Ph.D in Transnational Gender and Women's Studies. It will expose students to critical thinking about science, technology, and new media. The class explores intersections of gender and women's studies with science, technology, engineering, medicine, and new media around the world; including women in science; transnational feminist science and technology studies; technologies of reproduction, production and destruction; divisions
of scientific and technical labor; embodiment and subjectivity; digital divides, digital consumption, embodiment, and circulation; modernist projects of categorization; and the making and breaking of gendered bodies. It mixes secondary sources with primary sources, and among the primary sources, mixes scientific and technical documents with new media and the arts.
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GWS 238 Feminist Bio-Politics 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2010
This course is divided into three sections, Theorists and Methods, The Sciences of Life, and Bio-and-Necro-politics, and within each section there are further thematic headings. The course serves both to introduce graduate students to science and technology studies and to introduce new works and directions in the field. The syllabus foregrounds the life and biomedical sciences, and thematizes space and trans-place, time and genealogy, disciplines and inter-disciplines
, method and/as theory, identity and governance, ethics and objectivity, knowledge and stratification, security and transparency.
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GWS 250 Queer Translation 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2014, Fall 2010
This seminar aims for both a familiarization and a potential reworking of selected contemporary debates in queer theory: those concerning migration, race, globalization, and movements of theory. How do queer theories, queer theories-as-practice, queer practices travel? Furthermore, do critiques of stability found in queer theory invite presumptions of mobility? We will interrogate the shadow of "mobility" in queer theory by considering queer tourism
, gender identity, sub-class labor migration, and the outer zones of citizenship.
Queer Translation: Read More [+]

GWS 299 Individual Study and Research 1 - 9 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2011, Spring 2008, Summer 2007 10 Week Session
For students engaged in individual research and study. May not be substituted for available graduate lecture courses.

Individual Study and Research: Read More [+]

Faculty and Instructors


Paola Bacchetta, Associate Professor. Ethnicity, postcolonial theory, transnational feminist and queer of color theories, theories of the inseparability of gender, theories of the inseparability of sexuality, theories of the inseparability of, theories of the inseparability of class, theories of the inseparability of nation, theories of the inseparability of religion, global political and religious conflict (especially Hindu nationalism and racializations of Muslims and Islam), theories of resistance and transgression, right-wing movements, geographic areas of specialization outside the U.S- India and France.
Research Profile

Mel Y. Chen, Associate Professor. Queer and feminist theory, Disability theory, Critical animal studies, Materiality studies, Cultural politics of race, sexuality, ability, and immigration, Critical linguistics, Paradigms of inter- and transdisciplinarity.

Minoo Moallem, Professor. Transnational and Postcolonial Feminist Studies, cultural studies, Visual and Material Cultures of Religion, Immigration and Diaspora Studies, Middle East Studies, and Iranian Studies.
Research Profile

Laura C. Nelson, Associate Professor. Gender, medicine, and politics, Cultural, political, and experiential aspects of breast cancer in South Korea, How, why, and to what effect constructions of gender, class, and race are mobilized and manipulated in South Korea, Structures of cultural temporality (future, present, or past orientation) and anti-poverty policies (US and South Korea).

Juana Maria Rodriguez, Professor. Sexual politics, LGBTQ communities, Latino issues, women of color feminisms, ethnic studies, queer activism, transgender studies, queer kinship.
Research Profile

Leslie Salzinger, Associate Professor. Political economy, feminist theory, finance, sociology of gender, Gender and Work, gendering of transnational processes.
Research Profile

Charis M. Thompson, Professor. Science & technology studies, environmental ethics, feminist theory, reproductive technology, genetics, stem cell & cloning technology, personalized medicine, biodiversity conservation, transnational studies of reproduction & population, ethnography.
Research Profile

Minh-Ha Trinh, Professor. Gender and sexuality, women's studies, rhetoric, feminist postcolonial theory, film theory and production, music composition, ethnomusicology, contemporary critical theory and the arts.
Research Profile


Ayse Agis, Lecturer.

Barbara A. Barnes, Lecturer.

Laura Fantone, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Professor Emeritus. Labor, citizenship, undocumented students, caring work, settler colonialism, skin color bias.
Research Profile

Barrie Thorne, Professor Emeritus. Feminist theory, gender theory, ethnography, qualitative methods, sociology, women, sociology of gender, sociology of age relations.
Research Profile

Irene Tinker, Professor Emeritus. International development and women, Electoral quotas in legislatures for women.

Contact Information

Department of Gender and Women's Studies

680 Barrows Hall

Phone: 510-642-2767

Fax: 510-642-0246

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Laura Nelson

618 Barrows Hall


Vice Chair for Pedagogy

Paola Bacchetta, PhD

626 Barrows Hall


Vice Chair for Research

Mel Y. Chen, PhD

624 Barrows Hall


Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Althea Grannum Cummings

608 Barrows Hall

Phone: 510-642-8513

Fax: 510-642-0246


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