Get to know Ellie Schemenauer!




Dr. Ellie Schemenauer is a Women’s and Gender Studies Professor at UW-Whitewater.




What’s your educational background?

I went to Eckerd College, a small liberal arts college in St. Petersburg, Florida, for my undergraduate degree in International Studies. I always was fascinated with cultures that were different from my own and Eckerd had a great faculty, strong international programs and plenty of study abroad opportunities. I thrived in the small classes and intensive mentoring that Eckerd provided students. I got involved in undergraduate research and even travelled to Costa Rica as part of their undergraduate research program to study F.I.R.E. (Feminist International Radio Endeavor), a short-wave radio program focused on women and gender issues heard in 100 countries around the world.  It was my dual interest in Women’s and Gender Studies scholarship and teaching in a liberal arts context that motivated me to go on to graduate school.  I earned my Ph.D. in International Relations from Florida International University in Miami, Florida where I focused my work in Feminist International Relations and Latin America and the Caribbean.

What courses do you teach here?

I teach a wide range of courses in Women’s and Gender Studies including Introduction to Women’s Studies, Women in Work, Women and Men in Cross-Cultural Perspective, Women in International Relations, Advanced Seminar in Women’s and Gender Studies, and the general education course, Individual and Society.

What are your research interests?

My dissertation research examined women drug couriers and the gendered dimensions of the illicit drug trade. I was really interested in the socioeconomic context and motivations that women from Latin America and the Caribbean had for trafficking illicit drugs, but I was also interested in exploring this issue from a security angle. I’ve largely continued to work on that research agenda that I set out in graduate school. Right now I’m working on an article that looks at so-called cocaine queen pins—women who are in the upper echelons of illicit drug networks. I’m very interested in examining how different media outlets are telling these stories. My second area of research interest involves feminist pedagogy. I spend so much time in the classroom thinking about how to teach and how to teach well that my interest in pedagogy grew pretty organically from the demands of my job.

How long have you been teaching?

I taught my first college class after my second year of graduate school in 1997, and I came to teach at Whitewater full-time in 2005.

What inspired you to become a professor?

I would say my experiences as an undergraduate. I really enjoy learning- I’m seriously curious about the world. I couldn’t imagine ever being satisfied with what I knew, and so it seemed like a perfect profession to go into. I also learned pretty early on as an undergraduate that the more you know, the more you understand how very little you know about the world around you. So, that quest for knowledge with humility appealed to me.

What do you like most about UW-Whitewater?

My students and my colleagues. I’m very fortunate that I am surrounded by hard-working, smart, and kind colleagues. I’m also often humbled by the perseverance of my students and the challenges that they face. There are a lot of good people around here. This feels like a good place to be- I feel supported.

What are some of your interests outside of teaching?

I’m a big fan of yoga. I wish I could take a yoga class every day, but I have to settle for once or twice a week. I like to go hiking- especially in mountains. I also love to travel. I have a 3 year old, so I spend a lot of my free time doing fun things with her.

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is ceviche. You basically chop up fresh fish, add sliced red peppers, onions, or tomatoes, and squeeze citrus over it. Let it sit in the citrus for an hour or so, and the citrus “cooks” the fish.

What is something that your students may be surprised to learn about you?

I jumped out of a plane once- I went skydiving when I was in college. Also, I used to love scuba-diving, but being in Wisconsin kind of puts a damper on that hobby.

Who inspires you and why?

My 3 year old daughter. She inspires me to be very intentional about what I do and say.