Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2012

Peer Reviewed



As we move beyond the third wave of feminism, some question the need for separate departments and degree programs focused on the study of women. This paper argues that Women’s Studies programs are necessary to the academy. This argument is made through a review of the literature on the history and development of Women’s Studies programs in order to examine the past, and a survey of the presence of Women’s Studies and LGBT programs in 159 colleges/universities in 2012 in an attempt to examine the present. The battle Women’s Studies has fought and continues to fight in order to assert itself as a valid field of study in the university, complicated by the struggle of establishing itself as an entirely new discipline rather than a branch of a larger one has resulted in an identity crisis surrounding issues of purpose and disciplinary canon. I argue that the biases and prejudices built into the structure of the university are still at play, and though they are subtler, they are no less insidious than before. Considering this structure is important for academic librarians who often work as liaisons for departments that each have internal and external structures and politics to navigate while working to provide the best possible service to faculty and students.


Women's Studies, Feminism, University in Society, Women's History, Women's Liberation Movement

Total Pages



Copyright © 2012 Sarah Alexander

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.