Jessica Laughlin, '05
Women's and Gender Studies
At the time, a practicing attorney.
"My minor at UNE helped to make me more aware of gender issues. I approach things critically, I spot and identify gender stereotypes, and question who defines what is male vs. female (masculine vs. feminine). It has helped me bring this awareness to others in every part of my life.
"It challenged me to look at myself and the assumptions I and others bring to situations/tasks/subjects/views, etc. It challenged me to redefine woman/man/feminine/masculine in terms of the way I talk, write, and how I identify myself. I have made it my personal mission to challenge others to examine and question their own assumptions in a respectful and meaningful way (I love nothing more than defying gender roles).
"I understand and appreciate the role of language that is used to convey and perpetuate these assumptions and this comes into play a lot in my legal career, whether questioning the accuracy or neutrality of a written account, the assumptions that are behind a piece of legislation, or the way certain words or phrases are received.
"My minor has certainly helped me appreciate the gender stereotypes and assumptions that I, as a female in law, come up against on a daily basis. Finally, it made me want to educate others, especially women, about these issues. So much so, that I would love to teach women's studies someday.
"The learning I experienced at UNE, and cultivated through my Gender Studies minor, has given me the knowledge, the base, and the tools I need to do all of this, and to continue to do these things in my professional and personal life. Gender studies is an amazing subject that you can continue to explore on your own once you have these tools and this framework. And it can be applied anywhere, anytime, by anyone. Most importantly, it prepared me for independent and interdisciplinary learning, which has been crucial for me, as that's exactly what law, and most other real world settings, are: interdisciplinary."