Department of Women's Studies

Susan E. Cayleff

Campus co-chair SafeZones@SDSU

Director LGBT Internship Program

Faculty Director and Mentor, The Young Women’s Studies Club at Hoover High School

Department of Women's Studies
San Diego State University


Susan E. Cayleff is Professor of Women’s Studies and co-chair of SafeZones@SDSU an ally training and social justice event program for LGBTQ students, faculty, staff and administrators. She also directs the LGBT Studies Internship Program that places students at 15 different community-based organizations and services. Since 1995 she has been the faculty director and mentor of the Young Women’s Studies Club at Hoover High School. This multi-tiered mentoring program works to create feminist and racial awareness and bridge the academy and the community. She is also adjunct faculty in American Indian Studies and Chicano/Chicana Studies. She served as Department Chair 1997-2005 and joined the faculty at SDSU in 1987. Prior to her arrival at SDSU she was an Assistant Professor in the Institute for the Medical Humanities, Preventive Medicine and Community Health Division, at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX, 1983-1987.


  • Ph.D. Brown University, American Civilization
  • M.A Brown University, American Civilization
  • M.A. Sarah Lawrence College, Women’s History
  • B.A. University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Women’s Studies/Honors/History

Back to Menu


I was fortunate to be among the first-generation of Women’s Studies students to graduate in the newly created field. Then, as now, I believe our interdiscipline must link academic excellence with activism to better the lives of girls, women, and female-identified people. This must be done in tandem with anti-racist and LGBTQ scholarship and activism. Through my teaching, research and political activism I explore the intersections of gender, race, social class privilege, sexualities, gender identities and heteronormativity. Women’s Studies is one of the great revolutions of twentieth and twenty-first century global intellectual thought. It has challenged and successfully reordered the academy, fueled feminist activism and asserted girl’s, women’s, and female-identified people’s instrumentality in human history and creativity.

Back to Menu


  • American women’s history: multiculturalism, geopolitical contexts, social class differentiations, sexualities and gender identities and political radicalisms
  • Genders and sexualities: the body as political terrain
  • Life writing as history
  • History of and current issues in healing and medicine; women as healers and practitioners of folk and non-dominant modalities, body modifications and techno-solutions, lesbian and trans* health and patient-directed care
  • Sports: homophobia in women’s sports, elite athletes, lesbian sports culture, trans* issues in sports and sports team’s cultures
  • Labor activism
  • LGBT life studies and history

Back to Menu


  • American Women’s History, pre-colonization to the present
  • Body Politics
  • Narrating Women’s Lives: Auto/Biography as History
  • Women, Health and Healing
  • Women in Sport: Historical and Contemporary Issues
  • Foundations of Feminist Scholarship
  • Women’s Sexualities

Back to Menu



Nature’s Path: A History of Naturopathic Healing in America
Johns Hopkins University Press

Women in Culture: A Women’s Studies Anthology
co-edited with Bonnie Kime Scott, Anne Donadey and Irene Lara
Wiley, 2016

The Greatest All-Sport Athlete of All Time: Babe Didrikson Zaharias
Conari Press

Babe: The Life and Legend of ‘Babe’ Iidrikson Zaharias 1911-1956
University of Illinois

Pulitzer Prize Nominee and Recipient of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Outstanding Book Award, San Diego.

Wings of Gauze: Women of Color and the Experience of Health and Illness
Wayne State University Press


Wash and Be Healed: The Water Cure Movement and Women’s Health
Temple University Press


Which Door Am I?: Gendered Iconography in Public Places

near completion


Film rights sold to SONY Studios for Babe: The Life and Legend of Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Pulitzer Price nominated biography published in 1995. Begins production spring 2016.


Journal of International Women’s Studies, Journal of Lesbian Studies; Journal of Naturopathic Medicine; Magazine of History; Historical Journal of Massachusetts; Radical History Review; Social Science and Medicine; Women’s Studies Quarterly; Texas Medicine; Journal of Counseling and Development; Womantide and others

Chapters have appeared in

The Lanahan Readings in the Psychology of Women; Major Problems in American Sport History; The Grad Students Guide for Getting Published; Women Health and Medicine in America, an Historical Handbook; Other Healers: Unorthodox Healing in America and so on.


American Historical Review; Bulletin of the History of Medicine; International Journal of Women’s Studies; Journal of Southern History; Journal of the History of Sexuality; Journal of Policy History; Journal of San Diego History; Oral History Review; Journal of Sport History; Journal of Women’s History; Journal of American History; Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences; Women’s Review of Books and others

Back to Menu

ACTIVISM (selected)

  • Co-chair and founding member of SafeZones@SDSU. Safe Zones works to create and maintain a safe, welcoming and supportive campus atmosphere for LBGTQI students, faculty, staff and administrators
  • Faculty founder and mentor: the Young Women’s Studies Clubs at Hoover High School in San Diego
  • The Women’s Museum of California Annual San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame Event
  • The Women’s Lecture Series, The [LGBTQ] Center, San Diego, CA.

Back to Menu

AWARDS (selected)

  • Achievement Award for Bettering the Lives of LGBTQIA Communities, Lavender Graduation, SDSU, 2013
  • Most Influential Faculty Member, Chosen by the Outstanding Graduating Senior in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies, SDSU 2012
  • Editorial Board Journal of Lesbian Studies, 2011-2015
  • Educator of the Year: The Center (LGBTQ) San Diego, CA. 2008
  • Presidential Leadership Fund Grants to enhance SAFE/ZONES SDSU and the Young Women’s Studies Club at Hoover High School, 2007 and 2008
  • University Senate Excellence in Teaching Award
  • Academic Mentor Honoree
  • Dean Carol Robisciotti Outstanding Faculty Community Service Learning Award
  • Most Influential Faculty Member to the Outstanding Women’s Studies Graduating Senior
  • Pulitzer Prize nominee, Babe: The Life and Legend
  • GLAAD, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Outstanding Book Award, San Diego
  • Finalist, Lambda Literary Award for Outstanding Book in Lesbian Biography
  • American Association of Naturopathic Physicians Research Award
  • Babe Didrikson Zaharias Memorial Foundation Research Award
  • Research, Scholarship and Creativity Activity Awards, SDSU
  • Resident, Rockefeller Foundation Conference at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University
  • Resident, Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, Brown University
  • Kennedy Institute of Bioethics, Georgetown University

Back to Menu


  • President's Leadership Fund, SDSU; College of Arts and Letters, SDSU; co-recipient
  • Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research in the History and Policy of Democracy in International Curriculum and Research; co-recipient
  • California Council for the Humanities in conjunction with the Women’s History Reclamation Project and Educational Center; co-recipient
  • Fred J. Hansen Institute for World Peace SDSU
  • American Association of Naturopathic Physicians Research Award
  • Babe Didrikson Zaharias Memorial Foundation Research Award
  • Research, Scholarship and Creativity Activity Awards, SDSU

Back to Menu


American Indian Studies, adjunct faculty
Chicano/Chicana, Studies adjunct faculty

  • Faculty advisor, SafeZones@SDSU Outreach, student organization
  • Coordinating Committee member, The LGBTQ Research Consortium, SDSU
  • Gender and Minority Equity (G.A.M.E.) Committee; Athletics Department, SDSU
  • Intercollegiate Advisory Committee, SDSU
  • Co-founding member, Lavender Graduation @ SDSU
  • President’s Advisory Committee on Equality (P.A.C.E.)
  • Founder and organizer: SafeZones@SDSU LGBTQ and Allies Resource Fair
  • Faculty supervisor and originator, Community-Based Service Learning Interns, through General Education Women’s Studies classes, are placed with: SafeZones@SDSU; The Young Women’s Studies Club (YWSC) at Hoover High School; The Women’s Museum of California; The San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame, and the campus-based Women’s Outreach Association.
  • Coordinating Committee Faculty member, “Healthy Border Women: A Transnational HIV/AIDS Prevention Program,” Center for Family Solutions of Imperial County.
  • Internship Founder and Coordinator, LGBT Studies Program.
  • Pre-professional Health Advising, SDSU.
  • Brown University off-campus BASC interviewer.
  • Board, Lipinsky Institute for Judaic Studies.
  • Pacific Southwest Women’s Studies Association co-organizer for conferences hosted at SDSU.
  • Manuscript reviewer for the following University presses: Illinois, Michigan; Arkansas; Temple; Minnesota and so on

Back to Menu


Boston Red Sox baseball (understatement)
Pow wows
"Wild Things: Outsider Art," an individually-owned business
Road trips
Women’s sports, as participant and fan
All four-legged and winged creatures

Back to Menu

** The background image: The caribou is the only member of the deer family whose females grow antlers**

Homepage | San Diego State University | Department of Women's Studies