History and Mission

History and Mission of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies @ CSULB


WGSS promises no answers.

We invite provocative questions about gender and sexuality. We encourage an interrogation of systems of power and contradictory social realities by analyzing historical, systemic, and institutionalized patterns of injustice.  We provide rigorous, intersectional scholarship to grapple with these ideas. Students who take our classes will find themselves smarter, and may experience a shift in consciousness.


In the late 1960s, the very first classes with Women’s Studies content were taught at California State University, Long Beach. The classes were Sociology of Women, taught by Dr. Audrey Fuss, and Psychology of Women, taught by Dr. Doris DeHardt. The popularity of those initial courses led to the first ” official” Women’s Studies class in 1970, a Research Seminar on Women, team-taught by Dr. Karen Johnson from Political Science and Dr. Sharon Sievers from History. This was one of the first official classes of its type to be offered in the United States. The Program in Women’s Studies was established about the same time, with a faculty from diverse disciplines holding joint appointments in Women’s Studies and their home departments. It was an exciting time, both on our campus and on others, as bodies of knowledge about women in established disciplines were expanded by feminist scholars and merged into the core of what grew into an entirely new scholarly discipline.

The Program weathered the critiques and attacks of the conservative early 1980s and continued to grow. There were students asking for a major even before we were able to offer a degree in Women’s Studies, and there were those who insisted on a specialized B. A. so that they could put Women’s Studies on their degree. All this changed in 1995, when CSULB agreed to have a major in Women’s Studies. By this time, there were permanent members of the faculty whose appointments were entirely housed in the Program. In 1997, our first two official majors graduated.

The faculty in the Department is among the most diverse and the largest in the United States. In addition to regular scholarly publishing, they take pride in working closely with our students.This is one of the reasons that so many of them feel they get the benefit of a private school education for the cost of a large state university.