People have no understanding of how the system of higher education in their own country works. For instance, there’s a myth about a crowd of unemployable gender studies majors wandering around.
In reality, it’s a rare university that can afford a gender studies major, and those that do have the tiniest number of students. The programs that do graduate crowds of unemployable people are in psychology. A Bachelor’s degree in psychology doesn’t give you the possibility of any sort of clinical practice. The program is pure fluff. Students who can’t succeed in college are syphoned towards it in large numbers to create an illusion of tolerable graduation rates. After graduation, all they can do is go into the kind of jobs that enforce woke compliance. At my university, we have 500+ psych majors and 8 physics majors. And that’s not because there are no jobs in physics or chemistry. Actually, the starting salary for our chemistry graduates is $80,000. They are in high demand. But most of the students who enter the chemistry program fail within the first two semesters and switch not to the non-existent gender studies major but into psych.
11 thoughts on “Gender Studies Major”
Serious question: For kids who are STEM adept, jobs won’t be an issue. In your opinion as faculty in the humanities, what should kids major in to ensure getting decent jobs if they don’t have an aptitude for or interest in math or science?
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This is a great question. Among Humanities majors, BA in philosophy brings the highest starting salary. Also English is a great major. English majors are in demand in the business world, for instance, because everybody wants to have an online presence and they need people who can write. When my sister lost her business during COVID and had to fire everybody, the only employee she saved and he’s now her partner in her new business is a guy who majored in British poetry. He has the ideas, he’s great at writing and speaking, and these are invaluable skills these days. Of course, if you can do a double major in English and Spanish, that’s even better because then you can do this in two languages.
I also hear that geography majors get hired extremely well but I don’t know why.
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That’s so interesting. Popular opinion seems to be that English is a worthless major, on a par with Lesbian Dance Theory. As an English major (class of 1975) I’ve always found this attitude irksome, but I was never able to refute it. Nice to have some good news for a change.
Maybe it’s because I’m an English professor and turn a willfully blind eye to this. But I haven’t heard of English majors being considered a worthless major. I know that Sociology and Education are derided and certainly anything to do with gender or race garners eye rolls. But English? English always seems like a neutral major to me.
But even niche majors like “Lesbian Dance Theory” (not a real major I realize) and Gender Studies lead to jobs. 1) As Clarissa commented, the only schools that can afford those types of majors are elite schools. And elite schools get students jobs. 2) As I say below, the important thing is the BA. The major itself is relatively unimportant. 3) Even the Gender/ Postcolonial/ Critical Race Theory type majors can give students skills. You can hate Judith Butler or Homi Bhabha or bell hooks (not a fan of Butler or hooks myself) and think their writing is obtuse or laughable. But reading such authors takes time, focus, and work. If students want to debate or disagree with these authors, it takes even more work. I’m firmly of the belief that one of the best things for the human intellect is to read intensively and even the “woke” majors offer opportunities for that style of reading.
This is all to say that even “Lesbian Dance Studies” can get students good middle-class jobs. 🙂
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I agree with all that Clarissa said (I’m a college professor also.) People who can write get jobs……In a similar vein, “reading skills” per se aren’t listed in job ads but all employers want people who can understand and process information and so, reading/analytical skills are vital. So most Humanities or “Humanities adjacent” degrees (English, History, Political Science, Philosophy etc) are great. And of course, being bilingual (especially in Spanish) is always a huge bonus.
But the reality is that most people with Bachelor’s degrees find decent, well-paying jobs. Other than skilled labor (electrician, plumber etc), the BA/BS is the ticket to a good, middle-class lifestyle. It’s a myth that there are a bunch of unemployed college graduates in the country. People with BAs earn more, live longer, have longer lasting marriages. The quality of life that a BA facilitates is really quite astonishing. So, truly students need to major in something that that they enjoy and they can do well at. Many times, people don’t even list what their major was on a resume. Majors are ultimately immaterial for most students. The Bachelor’s degree itself is what’s important.
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Absolutely. My university pays for yearly research done by outside private companies (to avoid tendentiousness) to see how much our degrees are worth. And the numbers are very good. We have a problem getting many students to graduation. But once they do graduate, they do fine.
It’s also true that the major is less important than the fact of the degree. My department’s graduates are employed in all sorts of fields. But none tell us they had any problem getting a good job.
What fields do your graduates go into that are actually successful? I figure most Spanish go into teaching…or is the stereotype of just the bad students becoming teachers true? I only ask because I wonder what non-liberal corrupted careers are out there.
I am not sure what you mean by a “liberal-corrupted career” but in English, we have students securing work in lots of areas. One fairly common area is in UX (user experience) design. Other students get into careers in marketing, HR, and public relations. We also have a surprising amount of students get jobs with insurance companies. Students also get jobs in tech writing/editing. We have a lot of students going on to law school. Other students go in to graduate school in library sciences. Teaching is actually one of our least common jobs right now. I work with some Spanish majors and they are finding work in similar areas.
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When I started undergraduate college, I was already planning to go to medical school, so I could choose any BA or BS degree that contained enough basic science courses to meet the med school’s requirement. To get the bachelor’s degree, all students were required to take at least two years of a foreign language (because somehow that supposedly made them a more liberal, enlightened person or something).
Most students took Spanish, but I randomly selected German, and for some reason LOVED the language so much that I ended up majoring in it. So the only truly useful things that I got out of my BA degree were fluency in a European language (came in handy when I was stationed overseas with the USAF) and a ticket to medical school. (The world history and world literature classes were enjoyable and made me a more enlightened person, I guess, but never contributed to my earning potential.)
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“… a myth about a crowd of unemployable gender studies majors wandering around …”
That the behaviour looks like a myth in your environment does not mean this holds elsewhere.
I have a friend in admin at a second-tier “Near Ivy” who has told me about a surprisingly high number of these people passing through presently.
They are employable in theory only because they are in close proximity to several first-tier and second-tier cities in which the national and multinational companies headquartered there need “diversity officers” of some type.
Privately this has been described to me as being a group which on the whole “can’t cut it even in psych” which would have at least made the bulk of them into “care workers” performing tasks that are of some kind of net benefit.
Of course, it will be no surprise that presently the number one organisation hiring the few who can graduate such a fluffy set of courses happens to be the academic institution in question itself.
As for your few physics majors, why would anyone bother unless the plan is to stay close to family and save money during those undergraduate years in physics which supposedly don’t matter?
Same for chemistry, come to think of it …
I don’t know what y’all are even talking about, WRT English degrees. My husband has one. With honors. Not only had to go back and do a 2-year vocational program in something useful to get a real job, but had to leave the degree OFF his resume in order to get a job at all.
A liberal arts degree is useless paper unless you A) go on to get a master’s degree, or B) have connections.