Seniors explore themes in women’s history, image & psychology in a college-style women’s studies class


Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Jovel Queirolo
Managing Editor

The F Period Women’s Studies class files into Room 305 during their final exam period not for a thick packet of questions and essays, but for a few hours of discussion, photographs and film on a wide range of topics the 12 seniors picked from religion to sexual freedom.

History teachers Sarah Garlinghouse and Sonia Evers, Ph.D continue the tradition of teaching the history elective to upperclasswomen offering insight into the evolving role of women in society past and present.

“Women’s Studies is different from other subjects because we’re learning about stuff that applies to your life,” said senior Amy Domergue. “It’s not like math or English when you have to keep asking ‘What does this have to do with me?’”

Domergue, who did research on anorexia and body image last semester, explored pro-anorexic Web sites in her semester presentation — which many of her classmates had never seen. The class spent a few minutes discussing why women might choose to abuse their bodies.

“Everything we study has to do with girls and women — and that’s interesting because we’re basically studying ourselves,” said Domergue. “We’ve studied a girl’s brain — and the effects of different chemicals on your mood. Reading about what’s going really helps to make sense of things we don’t understand.”

A course more commonly found in colleges, Women’s Studies quickly gained popularity when Convent introduced the class 15 years ago.

“It’s powerful because the class is so relevant,” said Hallie Young (’09). “We talked about issues that we could really only discuss in a single sex school. Not only did we learn about the history of women as a role in Western society, but also what we can do to change stereotypes.”

The class allows students to begin reversing stereotypes simply in the way it is taught, according to Young. Students are required to speak confidently, listen critically and freely criticize restrictions on women.

“One thing we learned that stood out to me was that women make like 70 cents to a man’s dollar, which can make women feel inferior,” said Young, who is currently a freshman at UC Santa Cruz. “It is facts like that and other parts of the class that have taught me to like speak up louder and not let guys intimidate me.”

Students also think and analyze women in history, literature, film and the media on a personal level. Senior Nicolette Tarrant’s research on women’s bodies and body image tied together the invention of the bra, iconic women and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

“It’s in all the shows we watch and magazines we read,” said Tarrant to a room of nodding classmates. “The evolution of the bra, Hepburn, Monroe and Twiggy all have to do with what it is the ideal woman is.”

Discussions are focused on the hit show Jersey Shore one minute, and on artist Georgia O’Keefe’s unintended sexual imagery the next.

Seniors Amanda Aish, Caitie Sullivan, Rebecca Halloran, Charolette Kiaie and Alexis Otellini (left to right) listen to a lecture in their Women Studies course. They are currently learning about the definition of beauty and the way society perceives women. The class is one of the most popular among upperclassmen, with 28 seniors enrolled.

Seniors Amanda Aish, Caitie Sullivan, Rebecca Halloran, Charolette Kiaie and Alexis Otellini (left to right) listen to a lecture in their Women Studies course. They are currently learning about the definition of beauty and the way society perceives women. The class is one of the most popular among upperclassmen, with 28 seniors enrolled.


“It’s sort of a history class, a science class, an art class and a lesson in psychology,” said Garlinghouse. “We’re reading all sorts of literature, so it’s a little bit of everything – all of girls can relate to. It’s often over-registered and arguably one of the most popular classes at Convent.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
(Visited 378 times, 1 visits today)

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story