In the autumn of 1995, the StFX Women's Caucus met to discuss what we could do to improve the climate for women on campus. Caucus members were unanimous in their agreement that StFX needed a Women's Studies Program. The Caucus formed an ad-hoc committee comprised of Ann Bigelow, Clare Fawcett, Nancy Forestell, Peggy Gallant, Wendy MacCaull, Maureen Moynagh, Heather Rowe, and Norine Verberg. During the autumn and winter of 1995-96, this ad-hoc committee wrote a proposal for a StFX Women's Studies Program which was passed by the Faculty of Arts Committee on Studies, the Faculty of Arts and the Senate during the spring term of 1996. The Women's Studies Program was approved by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Council (MPHEC) in 1996. Nancy Forestell and Maureen Moynagh were instrumental in drafting proposals and negotiating the conditions of the newly formed Women's Studies Program with the administration. The Women's Studies Program at X officially came into existence in September 1996 with Clare Fawcett as Co-ordinator of Women's Studies and Nancy Forestell teaching Introduction to Women's Studies (WMNS 200) to 32 students. The 1996-97 Women's Studies Advisory Faculty was made up of Ann Bigelow, Clare Fawcett, Nancy Forestell, Peggy Gallant, Wendy MacCaull, Maureen Moynagh, and Margaret MacDonald. In November 2011 the Women’s Studies program received approval from the University Senate to change the name of the program to Women’s and Gender Studies.
The Women's and Gender Studies program is designed to offer pair, minor, major, and advanced major options to StFX students in the Faculties of Arts and Science. For major and advanced major students, the goal of the program is to provide training leading to other professional programs such as law, education and journalism, or to careers in fields such as social work, urban planning, social policy, community development and business. These students would also be eligible to apply for graduate programs in women's studies.
Students opting to complete a minor in Women's and Gender Studies balance specialization in a specific humanities or social science field with Women's and Gender Studies courses. These interdisciplinary and cross-cultural courses give them skills in analysing the often androcentric and ethnocentric assumptions of traditional scholarship, institutions and social practices as they affect both men and women.
The pair option is aimed at accommodating science students and students in professional programs as well as arts students with a view to developing an awareness of and insights into the construction of epistemology, career trends affecting men and women in the arts and sciences, and gender biases in research methods.
The Women's and Gender Studies Program is based on a combination of several core courses—“Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies” (WMGS 100), “Gender, Sexuality and the Body” (WMGS 205), “Selected Topics” (WMGS 299), Feminist Theory (WMGS 303), Selected Topics in Women's Studies I or II (WMGS 395/399) and “Research Methods Seminar” (WMGS 400)--and a series of cross-listed women's studies courses offered in other departments and approved by the Women's and Gender Studies Advisory Faculty. The program is administered by a Coordinator, a person with a demonstrated commitment to and expertise in Women's and Gender Studies and gender-based scholarship and pedagogy, in cooperation with the Women's and Gender Studies Advisory Faculty which is comprised of the Co-ordinator, all faculty teaching a Women's and Gender Studies core course, at least one representative from the Faculty of Science and at least two representatives from departments offering cross-listed courses.