WGSI History

The University of Toronto holds the distinction of having one of the oldest programs in Women and Gender Studies in Canada. Women’s Studies has been part of the curriculum at the University of Toronto since 1971, when Jill Ker Conway and Natalie Zemon Davis offered HIS 348H “The History of Women” at the same time that a teaching collective developed the first introductory interdisciplinary course. Conway discusses the development of feminist inquiry at Uof T in her best-selling autobiography, True North.  Kay Armatage describes our early history in “Blood on the Chapel Floor: Adventures in Women’s Studies,’ Minds of Our Own: Inventing Feminist Scholarship and Women’s Studies in Canada and Quebec, 1966-76, edited by M. Eichler, F. Descarries, M. Luxton, and W. Robbins (Wilfrid Laurier Press, 2008).

View the photos from our 50th Anniversary here:

Key milestones in the development of women and gender studies at U of T include the following:

1974-5 A minor in Women’s Studies was approved.

1980-81 Minor, major and specialist degrees in Women’s Studies became available on the St. George campus.

1994-95 Launch of Graduate Collaborative Program in Women’s Studies, which now has a larger number of collaborating units (33, across 7 faculties) than any other collaborative program in the University, and one of the largest student enrolments (currently 84 Ph.D. students and 18 M.A. students).

1999 The Institute for Women’s Studies and Gender Studies (IWSGS) was launched in 1999 as an Extra Departmental Unit (EDU) B unit with a mandate to consolidate undergraduate and graduate teaching programs on the St. George campus and to become a research institute serving the entire university.

2002 IWSGS began its focus on transnational feminist studies with the Theorizing Transnationality, Gender and Citizenship lecture series, research group, and graduate course.

2005 The IWSGS became an EDU-1, that is, an autonomous self-governing body with full appointment powers.

2005 The IWSGS became the Women and Gender Studies Institute (WGSI). The programs were re-named as Undergraduate Program in Women and Gender Studies, and the Graduate Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies.

2007 WGSI launched its free-standing M.A. program with a focus on transnational feminist studies.

2013 WGSI launches its Ph.D. program.

2024-5 WGSI Celebrates 50 years since the approval of the Women’s Studies minor.