Women’s and Gender Studies at UNC: A Timeline

This timeline highlights some of the key people and events in the development and growth of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. The historic records of the department have been recently transferred to the University Archives and are now available for research.

March 1970: The student group Female Liberation issues a list of demands, one of which calls for “inclusion of courses for and about women in the curriculum.” [Source: Records of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, 1920-2004, University Archives. Box 35: Female Liberation, 1969-1974 Demands.]

9. inclusion of courses for and about women in the curriculum and inclusion and re-evaluation of women in the subject matter of existing courses; Women are either patronized or ignored in courses, or their role is defined as erotic, troublesome and/or neurotic. It is certainly no accident that women students learn that all accomplishment and honor is male.
Excerpt from the Female Liberation demands, 1970, calling for women’s studies classes.

February 1973: The University Women for Affirmative Action organizes with the goal of ending discrimination based on gender at UNC. [Source: Margaret Anne O’Connor Papers, 1972-1989, Southern Historical Collection. Women’s Advisory Board 1973-74]

November 1974: Joan Scott, a faculty member in the Department of History, asks the Faculty Council to investigate the possibility of establishing a Women’s Studies program. At the Council’s request, Chancellor Nelson Ferebee Taylor appoints a committee to explore the idea. [Source: Interview with Mary Turner Lane, 1986-1987. Southern Oral History Program Interviews, Southern Historical Collection]

April 1975: The Chancellor’s committee to explore the creation of a Women’s Studies program unanimously recommends the creation of such a program. [Source: Margaret Anne O’Connor Papers, 1972-1989, Southern Historical Collection. Women’s Advisory Board 1973-74]

Article headline: Women's Studies. Renovating the Ivory Towers.
Excerpt from an article about Women’s Studies programs from the Nov/Dec 1975 issue of She.

July 1976: Professor Mary Turner Lane agrees to serve as the first Director of the Women’s Studies Program. Dr. Lane, a professor in the School of Education, began as an instructor in 1954. During her time at the UNC, Lane worked to end social limitations for female students. Lane also helped found the Association for Women Faculty and Professionals and served as a chair of the Committee on the Status of Women. [Source: Margaret Anne O’Connor Papers, 1972-1989, Southern Historical Collection. Women’s Advisory Board 1973-74]

Spring 1977: The Women’s Studies curriculum begins offering courses. Women’s Studies is offered as an area of concentration under the Interdisciplinary Studies major. [Sources:  Pamela Dean, Women On the Hill: A History of Women at the University of North Carolina; Daily Tar Heel, 10/22/1976]

Spring 1978: Women’s Studies 50 is established as a required introductory course. At this time, the Women’s Studies Program consists of about 25 courses. [Source: She, September 1977]

1979: The program graduates its first major, Sandra Jo Martin. Martin was the editor of She and an intern with the Council on the Status of Women. [Source: Pamela Dean, Women On the Hill: A History of Women at the University of North Carolina]

1982: The Duke-UNC Center for Research on Women is established to promote Women’s Studies scholarship, research, and curriculum development in the South. [Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1917-2002, University Archives. Series 2: Academic Programs, Subseries 2: General. Women’s Studies, Curriculum in: General, 1995-1997]

February 1988: The UNC Faculty Council approves a proposal to make the Women’s Studies Program an independent curriculum offering a bachelor’s degree. The change was not approved by the UNC System. [Source: Daily Tar Heel, 2/25/1988; Daily Tar Heel, 4/1/1992]

1988: The Women’s Studies program offers a certificate in Women’s Studies. Many students used this certificate similarly to a minor in other fields in order to include Women’s Studies on their transcript without majoring in the program. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, University Archives.  Folder: Annual Report 1990-91]

1989-1990: Graduate students at UNC organize the conference “Women’s Studies in the Triangle.” [Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, University Archives. Folder: Annual Report 1989-90] 

31 July 1992: The UNC System Board of Governors approved the independent Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies as a full-fledged curriculum (a B.A. degree in Women’s Studies). Students could now major in Women’s Studies. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, Folder: Annual Report 1992-93] 

1993: The Women in Science program, housed in the Women’s Studies office, was established. The program contemplated issues leading to the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the sciences. The program hosted seminars and discussions on a range of topics such as the daily lived experience of women in science and challenges faced by women in the sciences. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, Folder: Annual Report 1994-95] 

1994: A graduate minor in Women’s Studies established.  [Source: Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1917-2002, University Archives. Series 2: Academic Programs, Subseries 2: General. Women’s Studies, Curriculum in: General, 1992-1994]

March 1996: During the 1996-97 school year, The Women’s Studies department celebrates its 20th anniversary. Part of this celebration includes a keynote address by Professor Joan Scott on “Gender and the Politics of Higher Education.” [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008]

2004: The Women’s Studies program begins offering a minor in Sexuality Studies. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008, Folder: Sexuality Studies Minor]

July 2012: The Department of Women’s Studies becomes the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. [Source: Department of Women’s and Gender Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1971-2008]

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.