Join us in congratulating Dr. Jamie Andreson for receiving the Advancing Penn State Global Instructor Award 2024!  We are so proud of you and all your continued work in WGSS!

On Wednesday, January 24, 2024, WGSS had the honor and the privilege to host our Rape Culture on Campus panel discussion. It was an impactful event filled with insights from our incredible panelists and engaged audience. We would like to extend a special thank you to Penn State Gender Equity Center, Gender Equity Coalition at Penn State, Greeks Care, It’s On Us Penn State and the State High Purple Project for the continued hard work of the resources and support you all tirelessly provide for survivors. We thank you for constantly challenging rape culture on campus & in our community.

Thank you to Dean Lang and Penn State College of the Liberal Arts for your support of this event and our department.

… and a HUGE thank you to our panelists Adrienne Williams, Jocelyn Anderson, Jill Wood, and Barrett Marshall. We are so grateful to you all for sharing your stories, insights, and hopes for the future. We couldn’t have facilitated such a successful event without each and every one of you. ♥️


Media coverage:

Sexual assault survivors share stories at Penn State (youtube.com)

Penn State survivor of sexual assault talks rape culture | Centre Daily Times

Sexual assault survivor shares story after 45 years | Centre Daily Times

‘Nothing has changed’ | Penn State alumna speaks out at Rape Culture on Campus Panel | University Park Campus News | psucollegian.com

The WGSS Department Announces a New Paid Internship Fellowship for Majors!

The Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is excited to announce a new paid internship opportunity for our undergraduate majors. WGSS is launching the Judith Hardes Intern Fellowship (JHIF) to begin in the fall 2023 semester. The JHIF is a collaborative initiative between WGSS and the Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS) that combines academic credit with financial support for domestic and/or international job experience in a feminist organization that offers support for victims of gender and sexual violence and that seeks to unite feminist organizations to address such violence on a global level. The JHIF offers support for one academic semester with the possibility of an extension into a second semester or summer. The GNWS placement is designed to help students transition their WGSS educational experience into the competitive work world by testing personal strengths, working collaboratively, and sharing reflections on work experiences with the instructor and colleagues in a feminist workplace. The internship opportunity is available year-round and is offered to students who are WGSS majors through a competitive review process. We are not able to guarantee admittance to all students who apply in any given semester. The course requirements and expectations for course credit combine the general guidelines of the department’s WMNST 495 Internship with some specific requirements for the JHIF.

The JHIF application requires a submission of the general application form for a WGSS internship found at: https://wgss.la.psu.edu/undergraduate/internships-and-opportunities/. This application form requires information from yourself, from your field advisor, and from a faculty internship director. Only WGSS majors are eligible to apply, and all other eligibility requirements for an internship must be met.  In addition to this form, write a brief explanation (no more than 250 words) describing your interest in the JHIF specifically. Please submit all materials to Melissa Hummel at mjc7030@psu.edu. All application materials for the JHIF are due by August 14, 5pm.

For specific information regarding the JHIF and the application process please contact the JHIF Academic Coordinator, Dr. Melissa W. Wright, at mww11@psu.edu.

On April 26, 2023, the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies joined for their annual Awards Ceremony and Reception.  The evening highlighted the Department’s inspiring work and celebrated graduating seniors, award winners, and inductees of Triota (WGSS’s Honor Society).


2023 AlumnX Award Winner

Sara Woods, the 2023 WGSS AlumnX Award Winner, accepted her award and shared her inspirational story of how Penn State’s Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies influenced her life and career.  Sara directly continues her support of WGSS through her two graduate student awards each year.

Sara Woods graduated from Penn State in 1996 with bachelor’s degrees in women’s studies and psychology, followed by a juris doctorate from the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law in 2005 and a master of public administration degree from Villanova University. Today, Sara is the co-president and chief executive officer of Heights Philadelphia, a nonprofit educational organization that transforms the pathways to college and career for low-income, first-generation-to-college, Black and Brown students. Heights Philadelphia is the merger of Steppingstone Scholars and Philadelphia Futures, where Sara served as president and CEO before the merger. Sara previously served as executive director of Philadelphia VIP, a nonprofit that recruits, trains, and supports lawyers who volunteer to help low-income Philadelphians tackle critical legal problems. She began her legal career as a public interest lawyer representing survivors of domestic violence. An active Penn State alumni volunteer, Sara participates in the College of Liberal Arts’ mentor, law careers, and Women in Leadership programs, and as an admissions interviewer for the Schreyer Honors College.


The 2023 Award Winners

Carolyn Sachs Feminist Leadership Award

Sarabeth N. Bowmaster

Judith Hardes Fund in the College of the Liberal Arts

Nina Thomas

Esther Gershenson

Molly French-McShea

Judith Hardes Reproductive Justice Leadership Award

Molly French-McShea

Laura Richardson Whitaker Memorial Undergraduate Award in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Micha McConnell

Mimi Barash Coppersmith Endowed Scholarship in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Kendra Napier-Fonash

Shaka Ramanathan

Mimi Barash Coppersmith Endowed Scholarship: Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award

Cecilia Gavazzi

Wietlisbach Family Award in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Mercer Weaver

Judith Hardes Graduate Student Research Award in Reproductive Justice

Kris McLain

Maggie-Rose Condit-Summerson

Alex Herrera

Austen Walker

Judith Hardes Professional Development Award in Reproductive Justice

Flora Oswald

Laura Richardson Whitaker Memorial Graduate Award in Women’s Studies

Zinhle Manzini

Sara Woods Graduate Fund in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies: Outstanding Graduate Student Award

Ryan Pilcher

Judith Hardes Award for Course Development in Reproductive Justice

Ariane Cruz

Judith Hardes Reproductive Justice Mentoring Award

Jill Wood

Sara Woods Graduate Fund in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies: Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award

Maggie-Rose Condit-Summerson


Triota Inductees

Rayna Alexander

Emily Choe

Evan Cutler

Lorraine Garday

Rachel Kriescher

Olivia Podskoch

Mary Elizabeth Quaid

Amy Schafer

Annika Shastry

Akshata Shastry

Priya Tang

Amanda Varner


Join us in congratulating Dr. Jill M. Wood for receiving the 2023 Barash Award for Human Service!  We are proud of you and all your continued work in WGSS!

Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 9 at 7pm, the Gender Equity Center is cosponsoring a talk with disability justice activist and attorney Lydia X. Z. Brown Lydia will address the disproportionate impact that limited access to reproductive health education and services has on people with disabilities and how we can advocate for change. The title of their talk is “Roe v. Wade at the Intersection: Reproductive Justice for People with Disabilities.” ASL and captioning will be provided. Individuals can register for the live stream using the link:  https://wpsumm.wufoo.com/forms/rc0rf030fbpd0i/.

PSU News article


Dear Friends of WGSS,

I hope that Week 10 of the semester ended better than it began. If you haven’t had a chance to read President Bendapudi’s response to October 24th’s events, you can find that here: Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi releases message following Uncensored America event cancellation | University Park Campus News | collegian.psu.edu.

Given the recent announcement that Penn State is no longer moving ahead on the promised Center for Racial Justice (see Penn State Scraps Plans for a Racial-Justice Center (chronicle.com) and Penn State Breaks Promise to Open Center for Racial Justice (insidehighered.com), it’s difficult to feel good about where things stand. The following op-ed from October 28th’s CDT I think it is also worth a read: State College community must rally against white nationalism | Centre Daily Times.

I hope that as a community we can find ways to discuss and process the violence that has become more firmly embedded in our community. As we all know, racism and white supremacy never operate in “isolation.” They are always inextricably linked to other systems of power, such as sexism, heterosexism, and classism, just to name a few. As a community, we have a lot of work to do.

In solidarity,

Alicia Decker

Department Head