In this article we consider the example of gender studies as an interdisciplinary field, and argue that gender studies, and women’s studies, from which gender studies developed, has a distinctive engagement with interdisciplinarity. By thinking about the trajectory of women’s studies, feminist thinking and gender studies, we suggest that this has always been an interdisciplinary field of study. We trace both the shifts and continuities in thinking between different iterations of feminist thinking to consider the three core fields of: gender, sex and sexuality; intersectionality and activism; theory and methods. The article aims to open up debate over what the constructive possibilities are of a focus upon gender, and what the relationship is between theory and activism. This article is published as part of an ongoing collection dedicated to interdisciplinary research.