‘Courses in gender studies can make a huge difference’

Lakshmi Lingam, professor in women’s studies and deputy director, TISS Hyderabad, talks about the job prospects of courses in women’s studies.



What is women’s studies all about and how is it different from gender studies?

Women’s studies as a discipline has come into being to signify writings that focus on the concerns of women and concerns of society from the women’s point of view. As a discipline, it draws from several social sciences disciplines but engages in asking a set of new questions. It builds critical understanding among students in understanding how societies are constituted; how relations of power define the lives of individuals, groups, institutions, economies and cultures in multiple settings and sites. Women’s studies explores construction of gender and gender-based inequalities in society, however the focus is on women and girl children with reference to men and boys. As opposed to the idea of women’s studies, the idea of gender studies draws from feminism and feminist theories also focusing on men and queers.

What are the skills acquired from a course in this subject?
Students acquire sound analytical skills and expertise in doing sensitive research and development sector work with a particular focus on women, girl children, self-help groups and so on.

What are the career prospects after pursuing courses in women’s studies or gender studies?
Most organisations increasingly realise that understanding of women and gender issues significantly improves their practices at the workplace, improves the performance of individuals and builds better workplaces. Education in women’s studies and gender studies can improve the abilities of students in varied occupations, including the development sector with the government or non-government. Students may also attempt to opt for the civil services.

Can college education play a crucial role in sensitising youth towards gender issues?
If colleges engage in critical curriculum on this subject, it can make a difference.

Does TISS offer any courses in gender studies or women’s studies?
TISS Mumbai and TISS Hyderabad offer master’s degree programme and integrated MPhil and PhD programmes in women’s studies. These programmes provide a range of theoretical and perspective building courses and also build in field based experiential learning and dissertation work.

 

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