Are you interested in a Bachelor of Arts Majoring in Gender Studies at USYD? Do you want to know more than just facts and stats?
Then, look no further. We are here to give you a more personal insight into this degree and help you weigh up the pros and cons!
We had the chance to chat to Serena, a third year student majoring in Gender Studies at USYD. Let’s take a look at her experience!
Why should you study a Gender Studies major at USYD?
When speaking to Serena, it was very clear that she had a love for the degree! She was honest, insightful and passionate about the value of the degree and her chosen major.
Serena not only mentioned academic learning, but she also highlighted how the degree can teach you a lot about yourself. It’s this personal aspect that makes the degree so valuable!
“If you are struggling with sexual or gender identity (or just want to learn about them) this is the perfect major for you. You delve into the depths of unpacking and understanding these identities, the struggles and turmoil people face, and how to help and support them in the correct ways. It really is an important and extremely impactful degree,” Serena said.
Top 3 Pros of a Gender Studies major
When discussing the pros and cons of this degree with Serena, she focused on the sheer value of the degree in terms of its content and the lecturers.
“My favourite thing about the degree is the vast content and social issues covered and the amazing teaching staff,” Serena noted.
Here are Serena’s top 3 pros!
#1: Breadth of learning
“You learn so much about a variety of subjects, and are never shamed for asking a question or not knowing something,” Serena exclaimed.
Some of the subjects you get to study include:
- Screen Cultures and Gender: Film to Apps
- Bodies, Sexualities, Identities
- Intimacy, Love and Friendship
- Gender, Communities and Belonging
#2: The people
“My fellow peers in Gender Studies are always lovely, open and accepting people, which makes all the difference,” Serena noted.
#3: Self discovery
“You learn so much about yourself — your values, your identity and your passions,” Serena said.
Top 3 Cons of a Gender Studies major
The main downside Serena shared was that of the people who make snide remarks about her degree.
“My least favourite thing is the judgement from uneducated people when you tell them you’re doing a degree in Gender Studies. Unfortunately ignorant people exist in all walks of life and I have received my fair share of comments,” said Serena.
“‘An arts degree? That won’t get you a job’ and ‘Gender studies? That mustn’t take long then, there’s only two’ are frequent comments I receive but I don’t let them weigh too heavily — I enjoy what I do,” she added.
If you have a strong backbone, comments like these won’t phase you. Self-assurance in what you do and what you’re passionate about is what will make you go far!
Here are Serena’s top 3 cons!
“You will encounter judgmental people who will give you grief about not only an arts degree but a major in gender studies, which is always a bummer,” Serena said.
#2: Maintaining class friendships
“The difficulty to find peers doing the exact same major/minor as you — you find a friend in a tutorial then learn they’re only doing that subject as an elective and have a completely different degree than you!” Serena exclaimed.
#3: Sensitive content
“Whilst the work is rewarding, studying such heavy and sensitive topics can feel draining and have a negative impact on your mental health. I had a class Semester 1 2020 all about domestic violence and the violence transgender people face, which was extremely hard to get through (but so so interesting!),” Serena stated.
We asked Serena if she had any regrets about studying her degree and she replied,
“My only regret in this degree is that it took me so long to discover exactly the major/minor combination I wanted to do! I originally had a double major in gender studies and art history, then changed to a major in gender studies and minor in diversity studies, and finally into my current situation.”
She added, “I also regret not participating in the uni culture and joining extra curricular activities and societies.”
What do you wish you had known before starting USYD Gender Studies?
When students apply for a degree, there are certain expectations that come with it. Or, there are things that you may never have thought about until you start studying.
For these reasons, choosing a degree is a very daunting process and continuing to study that degree is also scary in and of itself, as you need to be assured in your decision. We asked Serena if there was anything that she wished she had known before starting her degree and her response was quite delightful.
“I wish I had known how much fun I would have in this degree, and how much I would enjoy learning. I wish someone had told me in Year 12 of high school how different university would be and how much more at home you would feel,” Serena shared.
From Serena’s Year 12 perspective, she viewed university as another institution where you felt forced into the work you were doing and struggled to find a place. However, when she arrived, she was happily surprised.
All her preconceived notions were thrown out the window and she was able to truly love the pursuit of knowledge. No one was making her do the work. It was her choice and her choice only.
What makes this degree different from the ones offered at other universities?
Sometimes, it’s not easy to differentiate which degree is the best as there can be multiple universities offering the exact same course. So we decided to ask Serena why this degree is different from the ones offered at other universities.
“This degree has behind it the reputation of Sydney Uni, which is monumental. We have access to amazing libraries all across campus and many other material amenities that aid in learning,” Serena told us.
She added, “We have access to highly educated professors who have studied for years, written PHDs, and taught hundreds of classes. We have tutors who care about their students, are passionate about their subjects, and are given creative license to teach the course the best way they see fit. This degree really does not compare to anything any other universities offer.”
What inspired you to choose USYD Gender Studies?
When you’re in Year 12, choosing a degree is not the only difficult decision. Picking the university that you are to study at for the next 3 to 5 or even 7 years is just as hard! We asked what inspired Serena to choose this degree at this university and she responded,
“Neither of my parents went to university and they wanted me to pursue my education in the ways they hadn’t. I was extremely into social justice and LGBTQ+ issues in high school, which is what ultimately led to my decision.”
“I am extremely glad I chose this degree and major — I have enjoyed every second of it (well, maybe not the 4 weeks of assignments and exams…) and have truly found my footing and interests in what I would like to pursue as a career. Gender Studies is an extremely varied and interesting major which educates you across a vast range of topics, helping you understand how communities and cultures work and in which ways they could use support.”
What are the possible career paths?
Despite the couple of negative remarks that you may encounter when studying this degree, you can prove them wrong by pursuing an amazing career that is relevant to your degree!
There are so many jobs that an Arts graduate and Gender Studies major can be found working in. Take a look:
- Advocacy and Welfare Officer
- Community Development Officer
- Journalist or Cultural Critic
- Health and Welfare Officer
- Human Resources Officer
- Political and Public Policy Advisor
- Social Researcher
- Teacher (with further study)
- Social Worker (with further study)
Thomasin McCuaig is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and an Arts graduate with majors in English and Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Sydney. Thomasin is a passionate writer, singer and drama teacher, who has had her work published in Holidays with Kids, Signature Luxury Travel and Style and Offspring Magazine. Thomasin also writes junior plays for her students and aims to publish a novel someday. During the COVID isolation period, Thomasin put her passion into practise and launched her own writing and editing business, ‘Re:Write Editing.’ In her spare time you will find her either napping, talking to her cats or looking up real estate for absolutely no reason at all. Fun fact: Thomasin appeared on Japanese morning breakfast show ‘ZIP!’ as a travel reporter, where she presented a six day exposé of Sydney!