Women and Gender Studies Concentration

Combining research, teaching, and activism focusing on the intersections among gender, sexuality, race and class.

Elizabeth Gibson, 2018

Elizabeth Gibson

Meet one of our graduate students, Elizabeth Gibson who is pursuing the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) with a concentration in Women and Gender Studies.

How did you decide on the MAIS with a concentration in Women and Gender Studies program?

I had left my previous career.  While it was certainly a valuable experience for me, it no longer supported my interests or ethical perspectives. I’d thought I’d re-tool my skill set and was taking courses for a very different profession. I took one course in Women and Gender Studies (my first) as I needed 3 elective credits to meet the full-time requirements for my GI Bill, and I’ve always been interested (albeit a bit ignorant) in Women and Gender Studies. By the third week of the course, I fell in love with the discipline and knew in my heart that I had found a home and a discipline that I wanted to devote my life to studying. Every subsequent course and faculty and fellow student interaction has served to reinforce the wisdom of that decision. For me, it’s been literally a life-changing experience. 

What have you learned that has really surprised you? 

I’ve learned so much that it’s hard to narrow it down. Perhaps my most overarching lesson is so much of what we learn in our socialization are constructs handed down over a millennium that we mistake as essential truths but are in fact constructs developed and enforced to advantage some at the expense of others.  The corollary to that lesson is that I find Women and Gender studies to be an inherently liberatory discipline, addressing all forms of normative and institutional inequities to include race, class, sexuality, ableism, and gender.  

Tell us about your dream job.

That’s easy, I aspire to be a university professor. Where else can I find myself immersed daily in studying the concepts that drive our social world and the theories and critiques that address those concepts? And where else will I be surrounded by students and faculty that will constantly challenge my understanding of the world we share. 

How have courses in Women and Gender Studies helped further your plans?

I’m finishing my MAIS degree and applying for Ph.D. programs in fields that will allow me to continue my Women/Gender interests. My MAIS was my immersion into Women and Gender studies and has prepared me well to continue those studies in a Ph.D. program. 

Please share any internships, jobs, or volunteer experiences that you have taken part in? I’m currently co-chair of the Northern Virginia Trans Allies (part of NOVA pride) and have been training with the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) to support reproductive choice. 

Please share any accomplishments or opportunities that you are proud of. I was so fortunate to travel to Galway Ireland to deliver a paper/talk on gender and immigration. It was a wonderful experience to share with and learn from other scholars on that subject and I was doubly fortunate to receive funding from the Graduate Student Travel Fund for the trip. And for someone who has not acted since being coerced into my 3rd grade class play, I worked up the nerve (with some lovely faculty and student encouragement) to act in four plays that centered on women’s experience in immigration and had a blast! My time in the program has been filled with new experiences, unimagined opportunities and some of the best friendships I’ve known.  

Tell us something people would be surprised to know about you. I’m a Colonel in the US Air Force, currently on the retired rolls. I’ve pulled five combat tours. I also play guitar, bass, and mandolin. My GMU Women/Gender studies and the associations I made here, has been instrumental in healing many of the psychic scars I carried from those combat tours and clarifying and strengthening my identity and understanding of womanhood. 

Tell us about your current research project/thesis.

I’m hoping to finish my thesis in Spring 2018. My work examines immigration to the US and the constant threat of deportability of undocumented persons. I am particularly focused on how transgender women are impacted.   

What are you looking forward to after you graduate?

More of the same I hope. I plan to take the summer off, read just for fun, sleep more, spend more time with friends and then—begin my Ph.D. studies if accepted for Fall 2018 (wish me luck!). 

You can reach out to Ellie by email: egibso10@masonlive.gmu.edu .

To learn more about the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) with a concentration in Women and Gender Studies click here.

You can also email our Graduate Director, Rachel Lewis at rlewis13@gmu.edu for more information.