Career Planning

So, What Can You Do With a Women's Studies Degree?

My new job is Project Archivist, Archives for Women in Medicine, and I'll be working at the Countway Library at the Harvard Medical School. It's a very exciting opportunity, and even though I'm sad to leave the Schlesinger Library, it's just the new, innovative kind of project I was looking for. - Giordana Mecagni, Women's Studies, 1996

The degree has opened many doors for me. Having a background in Women's Studies and knowledge of gender issues is highly desirable in the development field right now, as gender equity is one of the Millennium Development Goals set out by the UN and considered important by many NGO's and international organizations. - WS alum, 2001, in response to our 2005 Student Survey

Like these two, our alumnae are an impressive and accomplished group. We gathered information from 63 alumnae who graduated between 1994 and 2004, representing approximately 40 percent of graduates in that decade. The majority have gone on to seek advanced degrees and many work in organizations dedicated, either in part or in whole, to gender justice and human rights.

Educational Levels

At the present time, 34 of the 63 graduates for whom we have data have gone on to seek advanced degrees. Seventeen are in graduate school (2 at the PhD level, 1 in law school, 1 in medical school) and another 17 have degrees at the master's level. Some of the schools attended for postgraduate work include UNH, the University of Vermont, the University of New England, the New School for Social Research, the University of California at Berkeley, Simmons College, and Harvard.

Occupational Categories

Direct Service

This category includes 11 program graduates who currently work as therapists, case workers, in domestic violence crisis centers, or are in relevant graduate programs (e.g., MSW). As one framed this career path in her response to our 2005 Student Survey:

WS has been so helpful in helping me think critically and creatively, work well with people of all backgrounds, and recognizing systems of privilege. I work with developmentally disabled people -- I am a much better advocate for them because of my educational background. - WS Alum, 2002

Education

Twenty-four of our alumnae are employed in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary teaching as well as high school and university librarianship. In addition, this group includes a museum curator and a college-level Associate Dean of Students. Fifteen alumnae in this group either hold or are seeking an advanced degree. One who holds an advanced degree noted on our 2005 Student Survey:

I found my voice because of my WS degree. It gave me the vocabulary for identifying and evaluating what I see in my environment. - WS alumna, 1997

Another wrote of her recent accomplishments:

My article is in press at the Journal of Academic Librarianship. Just last month I was accepted as a reviewer of reference works for Library Journal. - WS alumna, 2000

Policy, nonprofit and law

This group includes 11 public and private sector workers in the fields of policy and law as well as non-profit organizational leadership. Of these, 5 hold advanced degrees and another 3 are in graduate or law school programs. This group includes:

  • a government policy analyst,
  • a specialist in sexual violence research,
  • and a specialist in disability rights law.

A 1999 alum wrote about the WS Program:

Everything I learned during my studies at UNH informs my work at a charitable organization that assists under-served families, women and children.

Women's health or other health-related occupations

This category includes 11 midwives, crisis center, health center or medical personnel working directly with women or in general health-care work, three of whom have advanced degrees, and one of whom is in medical school.

[My WS degree] informs every job I have ever had and casts a bright light on to my work as a women's health advocate and midwife. - WS alumna, 1996

In short, present and past students agree that the WS Program fosters a high level of intellectual and personal growth, that it offers outstanding opportunities for academic and civic engagement, and that it has provided strong mentorship and career-building experiences, particularly through the WS Internship (WS 797). Two of our recent alumnae express this best:

I was impressed with the knowledge and diversity of the WS professors. I was also impressed with the availability and flexibility of the faculty. As a commuting student working fulltime as a high school teacher, I was still able to follow my interests and major in WS because of the faculty's willingness to work with me. - WS alumna, 2003

I am extremely happy now as a Masters Degree student in Social Work. This place seems like a natural extension of the WS Department. Last week I actually had the opportunity to testify at the State House in front of the Appropriations and Health and Human Services Committees. It was very exciting. Unfortunately, it was for a sobering reason . . . the devastating cuts proposed to children's services in [my state]. I am grateful for the education I received in the WS Department at UNH. It has helped me immeasurably. I'm glad to know it is still blooming. - Sarah Reed, WS alumna, 2003