UNT names interim director for women's studies program
Ruthann Masaracchia, professor of biological sciences, has been named interim director of the university's women's studies program.
The program administers an undergraduate minor in women's studies, an interdisciplinary minor that allows students to design individual courses of study that suit their academic interests and needs. The minor is directed by the College of Arts and Sciences.
The courses offered for the minor address women-specific issues as well as the interaction of women and men in the home, workplace and government, Masaracchia says.
Students may also take women's studies courses for a master's degree with a major in interdisciplinary studies.
More than 30 faculty members, representing almost all of UNT's schools and colleges, teach courses examining women's roles, activities and experiences. Eighteen faculty members serve on the women's studies steering committee.
In addition to administering academic programs, the women's studies program regularly sponsors public forums and discussions. Some women's studies students also participate in programs sponsored by the Women's Center, an advocacy program for women's issues on campus.
Masaracchia says about 50 current students have taken the introductory women's studies course or have said they are interested in minoring in women's studies. A smaller number of students have enrolled in women's studies courses for the master's degree in interdisciplinary studies, she says.
"I would like to double the number of students in our program and identify more students early on who may be interested in supplementing their majors with a women's studies minor," she says. "Half of our society is women, and it's the half that, historically, has not been adequately studied."
Masaracchia says scholarly works in political science, history, psychology and "virtually all disciplines" are primarily written from a male perspective.
"We're now making up for this lack of understanding of women's roles and contributions at a time when men and women are increasingly seeking more effective means of working together in all aspects of society," she says.
Masaracchia would also like to develop more interaction among faculty members who teach women's studies courses, as well as make women's studies a more visible program on campus.
Masaracchia joined the UNT faculty in 1977. She was the university's first female tenured faculty member in the sciences.
Warren Burggren, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, says Masaracchia "approaches the task of interim director with great enthusiasm and creativity."
"Her background in the sciences adds a new dimension to the program and is particularly appropriate, since there is a burgeoning interest in gender-related issues in science pedagogy and research," he says.
Masaracchia's research focuses on blood cells in people with asthma, allergic reactions and strokes. She has published more than 75 articles and abstracts in professional journals and received grants from organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the National Institutes of Health and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International in support of her research.
She received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Park College in Parkville, Mo., and a master's degree in chemistry and doctoral degree in biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
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