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The Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies educates about issues of gender and sexuality, promotes interdisciplinary research and intersectional analysis related to gender and sexuality, and advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion to empower our students, faculty, staff, and the larger community.


Since 1981, the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies has addressed the changing roles, needs, and expectations of women students, faculty, and staff. When The University of Mississippi opened its doors to women in 1882, eleven women registered for classes; one of these became the valedictorian of her class. In 1885, Professor Sarah McGehee Isom became the University’s first female faculty member. Named in her honor, the Isom Center continues the tradition of promoting education and opportunities for women, who today constitute more than half of the UM student population. Dr. Joanne V. Hawks served as the founding director of the Sarah Isom Center from 1981-1998. Since that time, the Center and academic program in gender studies have been led by faculty members across disciplines. The current director is Dr. Jaime Harker, a professor of English.

“I believe in respect for the dignity of each person...� UM Creed

Undergraduate Minor in Gender Studies What are sex, gender, and sexuality? What is “masculine” and what is “feminine”? Why are so many uncomfortable talking about sexuality or anxious about gay or trans people? A minor in gender studies encourages students to ask fundamental questions about gender and sexuality. Gender studies minors gain the skills needed to identify, analyze, and critique gender and sexuality across a range of disciplines and cultures. These critical skills allow students to challenge and change those assumptions, to make the world safer, fairer, and freer for all. Gender studies students go on to use their knowledge in a variety of professions. Some create magazines, blogs, and other media to cover important issues and changes opinions, like Andi Zeisler, the founder of Bitch magazine; some focus on gender and sexuality in legal careers, like Roberta Kaplan, whose case United States v. Windsor overturned the Defense of Marriage Act. Virtually any field one wants to explore is enhanced by a background in gender studies: business, law, journalism, medicine, public administration, social work, teaching, counseling, government service, and more.

Graduate Minor in Gender Studies The graduate minor in gender studies provides students with a framework for understanding how scholars from other disciplines conduct their research, along with the different types of questions or problems scholars grapple with as they pursue a dynamic field of inquiry. Graduate minors not only learn how knowledge is produced by scholars, but gain feminist pedagogical training as well. The study of diverse methodologies prepares minors to practice interdisciplinary techniques, and teach and create their own gender studies courses. Graduates take an interdisciplinary course in gender studies methodology, up to two courses inside their discipline, and then take at least one course outside, for a total of four courses emphasizing gender at the graduate level. The certificate program has offered courses through English, History, Psychology, Southern Studies, and Sociology, on topics like The Queer South, The Sociology of Gender, and History and Methodology of the Body. Graduate minors come from a wide range of home departments, including English, Southern Studies, History, Sociology, Education, Nutrition, and the Business School. We welcome all interested graduate students to take advantage of this interdisciplinary program.

Faculty Research in Gender Studies Faculty who teach in the gender studies program have a diverse range of research interests, such as sexual expression and brain science; religion and sexual diversity; gender and sexuality in the media; queer writers and queer readers; the body in popular culture; genders, space, and place; transnational feminism; social movements and women’s rights. What Sarah Isom Center affiliates share is a passion for investigating gender and sexuality across nations, history, and cultural moments. Affiliates publish books and articles, create documentaries, and organize symposia. The Center and our academic allies work to include students as they expand fields of knowledge in a variety of different and exciting contexts. The Isom Center currently has affiliates in African American Studies,Art & Art History, Biology, Chemistry, Classics, Economics, English, History, Journalism, Law, Leadership and Counselor Education, Modern Languages, Music, Nutrition and Hospitality Management, Outreach and Continuing Education, Philosophy & Religion, Psychology, Public Policy Leadership, School of Education, Social Work, Sociology & Anthropology, and Theatre Arts.

The Isom Student Gender Conference The Isom Student Gender Conference (ISGC) was the first undergraduate research conference hosted at The University of Mississippi, starting in 2001. The conference provides undergraduates from UM and other institutions of higher learning with an invaluable opportunity for professional development. At the conference students share their research with others and are able to connect to academic and artistic communities and build support networks. The Isom Student Gender Conference is interdisciplinary and open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Students explore research projects in Sociology, Anthropology, English, Education, History, Southern Studies, Creative Writing and Poetry, and other disciplines. We encourage all interested students to come and share their research passions. In addition to UM students, presenters have also traveled from: • CSU - Long Beach • Mississippi Univ. for Women • Champlain College • Stanford University • Emory University • UNC - Greensboro • Indiana Univ. - Bloomington • University of New Orleans • Millsaps College • University of West Florida • Mississippi State University • Western Kentucky Univ.

Supporting Student Advocacy The Sarah Isom Center collaborates with a number of students groups committed to issues of gender and sexual equity. Feminist Empowerment at The University of Mississippi (FEMISS) is a student organization that focuses on feminist issues in the broader community; its co-presidents are gender studies minors, and it is advised by Associate Director Theresa Starkey. OUTGrads is a graduate organization for LGBTQ students advised by Operations Coordinator Kevin Cozart. The Center also works closely with Rebels Against Sexual Assault (RASA) and UM Pride Network and has collaborated with them on a number of projects. We support new student groups with a commitment to gender and sexual equity.


Creating Diverse Spaces The Sarah Isom Center creates inclusive spaces for women, feminist, queer, and multicultural students, faculty, staff, and for our community members in Oxford. These spaces include Code Pink, a queer-friendly dance party at Proud Larry’s; drag shows at Proud Larry’s and the Lyric theater featuring local performers; concerts and films at the Powerhouse, in partnership with the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and the Oxford Film Festival. Created by the Isom Center, Oxford Pride Weekend occurs during the first weekend of May and includes events like Lavender Graduation, concerts, film screenings, and the Oxford Pride Parade. We are proud to partner with the university and greater community to make Oxford welcoming, diverse, and vibrant. We’ve also partnered with other university & community organizations to host: • • • • • • •

Pride Camp Take Back the Night Hispanic Heritage Series Black Student Union Gala LGBTQ History Month Lavender Graduation Sex Week

Programming Throughout the academic year, the Sarah Isom Center works both on its own and with our partners to sponsor events that enrich, entertain, and enlighten our campus and community about issues of interest to women and the LGBTQ community, their families, and co-workers which shed light on how gender shapes our world. These include colloquia, lectures, and special events, especially during Women’s History Month and LGBT history month. We are always interested in hearing about speakers and events that you’d like to see on campus that promote our mission of respect, inclusion, and equal opportunity. Please make suggestions via our website or by emailing In addition to the Isom Student Gender Conference, some of our annual events include: • • • • • •

SarahTalks Lucy Somerville Howorth Lecture Series Queer Studies Lecture SarahFest Women’s History Month Pride Weekend

How can you help? Supporting the Sarah Isom Center enables our staff to continue to provide diverse, cutting edges course to our students and to do programing that fosters important community relationships both on campus and in the larger state of Mississippi. The Center welcomes gifts of any amount. You may support the Center by giving to one of these accounts: • Joanne V. Hawks Endowment, an unrestricted endowment established for the Center’s enrichment. The Hawks Endowment is currently managed as part of the College of Liberal Arts Ventress Fund. • Lucy Somerville Howorth Endowment, established to support an annual lectureship in women’s studies. • Isom Center LGBTQ Arts, Culture, & Community Dev. Fund Donations can be made online at or by check made out to “The University of Mississippi” or “The University of Mississippi Foundation.” Checks can be mailed to: The Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies The University of Mississippi Post Office Box 1848 University, MS 38677

Suite D - 3rd Floor, Lamar Hall Post Office Box 1848 University, MS 38677 Phone: 662.915.5916 Fax: 662.915.7324 Email:

New Isom Center Brochure  

We are happy to share our new brochure with you. Printed copies will be available later this summer.

New Isom Center Brochure  

We are happy to share our new brochure with you. Printed copies will be available later this summer.