Four students who had never taken a gender studies class were asked if they would ever consider taking one. All four answered no. As it turns out these students are not alone. We set out to study why students often leave college without taking a GSWS course. Our investigation revealed that many students do not take gender studies courses because they (1) do not see the value in taking a GSWS courses, (2) cannot find time in their schedule to take a course, or (3) are worried about being targeted if they do take a GSWS course. This is a big problem because GSWS courses are important as they identify gender inequality, explain social dynamics, and develop important vocabulary. The goal of GSWS is to eradicate gender inequality globally by breaking down the de facto and de jure systems of the patriarchy. This task cannot be placed on women alone, who often fill these GSWS classes. We need increased diversity and intersectional support. To understand why students often leave college without taking a GSWS class, we hypothesized potential reasons why students would not take a GSWS course, including discomfort with the material, no room within the schedule, and lack of interest in the material. To test our hypothesis we developed a student survey to identify the limiting factors behind higher GSWS enrollment. Surprisingly, students mostly favored the option to mandate GSWS courses in the Gen Ed program. Increased interdisciplinary courses, with GSWS crossover, was another popular option among students. We also developed a faculty survey to determine the achievability of students’ highest rated solutions. On that survey, faculty members recommended holding workshops that offer training for professors to increase overall proficiency in GSWS course material, implementing aspects of the hiring process that includes professors with backgrounds in GSWS fields or topics, and incentivizing professors to come up with integrative ways to add GSWS material to their pre-existing courses. We hope that the data we gathered will offer some insights into how we can remove some of the road blocks that keep students from taking GSWS courses and encourage more students to seek out these courses.
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