Mariamne H. Whatley

Mariamne Whatley

Dr. Mariamne H. Whatley is a Professor Emerita in the Departments of Gender and Women’s Studies and Curriculum & Instruction and an Associate Dean Emerita in the School of Education. Her extensive publications cover a wide range of topics related to gender and health, but focus most heavily on the areas of sexuality education, images and constructions of health, and critical perspectives on biomedical research on women’s health. Mariamne served as the North American Editor of Sex Education, as well as a reviewer or editorial board member for numerous peer-reviewed journals and publishing companies. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Women’s Health Network from 2001-2006.

Among her scholarly works, three books deserve special mention. Best known to students is her book, now in its fifth addition, Women’s Health: Readings on Social, Economic and Political Issuesco-edited with Nancy Worcester, which is a staple text in Women and Health courses nationwide.  In 1990 she published Ideology of Images in the Educational Media: Hidden Curriculums in the Classrooms, coauthored with Elizabeth Ellsworth. Later in her career she became interested in gender and sexuality in folklore and coauthored with Elissa Henken
Did You Hear About the Girl Who…?: Contemporary Legends, Folklore, and Human Sexuality, published in 2001.

Mariamne’s contributions to the Gender and Women’s Studies Department are immeasurable. She joined the nascent Women’s Studies Program in 1978 as a lecturer, and her background in gender, health, and biology helped to establish science and health studies as a core component of the Gender and Women’s Studies program at UW-Madison, which was, and continues to be, unique among Women’s Studies departments in the U.S. Mariamne was the original instructor of Gender & Women’s Studies 103: Women and Their Bodies in Health and Disease, the department’s legendary course that continuously attracts over 400 students per semester. It is Mariamne’s teaching legacy that earned this course it’s outstanding reputation. She also taught 103 as an independent learning correspondence course through Continuing Studies.

She also taught/co-taught several upper-level women’s health courses that built on the concepts introduced in 103, including The Biology and Psychology of Women; Childbirth in the United States; Women, Sex Hormones, and Health; and LGBTI Health. Trained as a bench scientist, Mariamne has a gift for taking hard-science topics and concepts, such as the chemical structures of hormones and the biological mechanisms of HIV infection, and making them extremely clear and comprehensible while also critically linking them to feminist politics. Her courses were always oversubscribed. Students who managed to get into her upper level courses always felt lucky to have the opportunity to study with her; many have referred to her as one of the best instructors they’ve had at the university.  Mariamne was a member of the group that developed the LGBT Studies Certificate Program and was its first faculty coordinator/advisor.

Mariamne also mentored and taught both undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. She taught courses in the Undergraduate Health Education Minor Program, including Health Information for Teachers and Teacher Education in Human Sexuality. In addition, she co-coordinate the Graduate Program in Health Education and taught numerous graduate level seminars, such as Health Education and the Media, Issues in Women’s Health Education, and Multicultural Perspectives in Health Education. Mariamne served as the thesis advisor for many of the Health Education master’s students, and in this role she provided the kind of guidance and support that everyone hopes for in a mentor. She combined accessibility, attentiveness, and structure with flexibility, encouragement, and responsiveness, and she consistently provided students with detailed, substantive feedback on their work.

In addition to her stellar record of teaching and advising about gender and health, Mariamne’s administrative service to the Gender and Women’s Studies Department has been unparalleled. She served as Department Chair for nine years, Associate Chair for five years, the Undergraduate and/or Certificate Advisor for a combined total of eight years, and the LGBT Certificate Advisor for four years. She also served on more than 30 university-wide committees during her tenure. Mariamne’s strong and supportive leadership helped Gender and Women’s Studies develop into an extremely successful and highly respected program both within the UW-Madison community and among Women’s Studies departments across the country.

Please help us to honor Mariamne and her leadership in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies by making a donation to the Leavitt/Whatley/Worcester fund.

To mail a donation to the fund, include the fund name and number designation (12547167 – Leavitt/Whatley/Worcester Fund) on your check, payable to the University of Wisconsin Foundation, and send it to: UW Foundation

U.S. Bank Lockbox
P.O. Box 78807
Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807

To make a secure gift online using your credit card, please fill out the online donation form.

If you have other questions or would like to talk about other giving opportunities, please contact Ann Lippincott, Managing Development Program Director, College of Letters and Science, University of Wisconsin Foundation at or 608-308-5320.

Thank you for your support!