Gender Issues

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 129–148 | Cite as

Checking Privilege at the Door: Men’s Reflections on Masculinity in Women’s and Gender Studies Courses

  • Rachel M. SchmitzEmail author
  • Emily Kazyak
Original Article


Certain types of masculinity undergird gender inequality, but different contexts may encourage individuals to conceptualize gender in new and unique ways. Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) university courses support this for women, but less is known about men’s experiences. Through an analysis of interview data from 15 men who have taken WGS courses, we ask: What do men experience in the WGS classroom and how do men perceive that their experiences in WGS courses shape their conceptualizations of gender and gender relations? Men described developing their understandings of gender inequality after taking a WGS course and they applied this knowledge beyond the classroom. We address the different ways men negotiate gendered classroom dynamics, with some men articulating that their gender provided a unique position from which to participate and others reporting more discomfort. We discuss the findings’ implications regarding men disrupting or perpetuating hegemonic understandings of masculinity within educational contexts.


Women’s and Gender Studies College men Masculinity Gender relations 



No funding was received to support this research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Rachel M. Schmitz and Emily Kazyak have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Standard

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of Texas Rio Grande ValleyEdinburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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