Institute for Research on Women

At the forefront of feminist research for over thirty years, the Institute for Research on Women (IRW) advances cutting-edge, interdisciplinary scholarship on gender, sexuality and women. Part of the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, the IRW was founded in 1977 by faculty and administrators seeking to expand feminist scholarship and activism beyond the university’s fledgling Women’s Studies program. Today, the IRW supports a broad range of programming designed to stimulate research on gender, sexuality and women within and across the disciplines, throughout and beyond Rutgers. Promoting faculty and student connections and building intellectual community are also central to the IRW’s mission. Affiliate members of the IRW currently include almost 900 faculty, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates drawn from a wide range of disciplines at the New BrunswickNewark and Camden campuses.


160 Ryders Lane
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8555
Ph. (732) 932-9072
Fx. (732) 932-0861


Principal Staff

Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel, Ph.D., Director

Sarah Tobias, Ph.D., Associate Director

Marlene Importico, Program Coordinator

Yomaira Figueroa, IRW Learning Community Coordinator

Featured Events


Projects & Campaigns

The IRW fosters feminist research at Rutgers through creative programming tied to an annual theme. The weekly Faculty/Graduate Seminar brings together faculty and advanced graduate students from a broad range of disciplines and from all three Rutgers campuses. Participants present works-in-progress, addressing the IRW’s annual theme from a range of disciplinary and methodological perspectives. The Distinguished Lecture Series presents innovative research by prominent feminist scholars and activists from Rutgers and other universities, exploring the annual theme in depth. The Undergraduate Learning Community extends the strengths of the IRW’s programs and research community to advanced undergraduate students who attend the IRW’s lecture series, develop research projects related to the annual theme, and work with IRW seminar fellows as mentors. Recent annual themes have included The Culture of Rights/The Rights of Culture (2008-9), Gendered Agency (2009-10) and The Art & Science of Happiness (2010-11).
In addition to its thematic programming, the IRW regularly organizes a one-to-three day Spring Colloquium addressing emergent debates in feminist activism and scholarship. Previous topics include the intersections of labor, class and sexuality; immigrant women’s collective organizing and the tensions between gender and disability studies.
Other regular programs include a workshop on Negotiating Basics for Women Entering the Academic Job Market, featuring women faculty of different ranks from the sciences, social sciences and humanities, and a Graduate Student Forum on Feminist Scholarship, enabling graduate students to share and receive feedback on their research.


Reports & Resources


Gender and Culture at the Limits of Rights, edited by Dorothy L. Hodgson (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), explores the concept of "women's rights as human rights” and the way in which a rights-based analysis can promote or limit the attainment of gender justice. Most of the essays in the volume were originally presented as part of the 2008-9 IRW seminar and its accompanying spring colloquium.

No Permanent Waves: Recasting Histories of U.S. Feminism, edited by Nancy Hewitt (Rutgers University Press, 2010) showcases a group of papers that were first presented at an IRW colloquium. The contributors "address issues of race, class and sexuality within histories of women's rights and feminism as well as the cultural and intellectual currents and social and political priorities that marked movements for women's advancement and liberation. The concept of waves surging and receding cannot fully capture these multiple and overlapping movements, chronologies, issues, and sites."

The papers collected in The Sex of Class: Women Transforming American Labor, edited by Dorothy Sue Cobble (Cornell University Press, 2007), examines the role sex plays in the workforce, as well as contemporary and historical domestic and global labor movements. 

The Journal of International Labor and Working-Class History issued a special edition on “Working-Class Subjectivities and Sexualities” in Spring 2006. Edited by Dorothy Sue Cobble and Victoria Hattam, several of the articles in this volume were first presented as papers at spring colloquium organized by the IRW and ILWCH in 2004. 

Gendering Disability, edited by Bonnie G. Smith and Beth Hutchison (Rutgers University Press, 2004), collects work presented at a three-day IRW conference that brought together gender studies and disabilities studies scholars.

Feminist Locations: Local and Global, Theory and Practice edited by Marianne DeKoven (Rutgers University Press, 2001), is based on scholarship presented at the IRW from 1995 to 1998.

Transitions, Environments, Translations: Feminisms in International Politics edited by Joan W. Scott, Cora Kaplan, and Debra Keates (Routledge, 1997), from work presented at a conference jointly presented by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton and the IRW.

With the Women's Rights Litigation Clinic at Rutgers Law School-Newark, the IRW co-sponsored The Project on Reproductive Rights Laws for the 1990s which culminated in the 1989 Rutgers University Press volume Reproductive Laws for the 1990s, co-edited by Sherrill Cohen and Nadine Taub.

Describing the impetus for Changing Our Own Words: Essays on Criticism, Theory and Writing By Black Women (Rugters University Press, 1989), Board of Governors Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English Cheryl Wall writes, “I took the idea for a one-day conference to then-IRW director Carol Smith, who embraced it enthusiastically. The conference on October 22-23, 1987, was one of the most gratifying experiences of my career. The room for the symposium was filled with many of the most brilliant scholars and writers of my generation. The book became one of the foundational texts in black feminist criticism. I will forever be grateful for the support of the IRW.”

Women, Households, and the Economy, edited by Lourdes Beneria and Catharine R. Stimpson (Rutgers University Press, 1987), collects papers presented at a two-day conference stemming from a grant from the Russell Sage Foundation “to bring together a group of scholars on the cutting edge of the thinking about women and the economy.”

Working Papers

Revised and condensed versions of work presented at our weekly seminar have been published in four volumes. Copies are available on request from the IRW. 
Femininities, Masculinities, and The Politics of Sexual Difference(s): Working Papers from the 2003-2004 Seminar, edited by Dorothy Sue Cobble, Beth Hutchison and Amanda B. Chaloupka
Reconfiguring Class and Gender: Working Papers from the 2002-2003 Seminar, edited by Dorothy Sue Cobble, Amanda B. Chaloupka, and Beth Hutchison
Modes of Knowledge and Action: Working Papers from the Women in the Public Sphere Seminar 1998-1999, edited by Beth Hutchison


Opportunities, Grants & Fellowships

 Visiting Global Scholars

As part of its commitment to foster feminist research at Rutgers and beyond, the IRW hosts feminist researchers from around the world as visiting global scholars. Visiting global scholars are able to pursue their own research and writing in a supportive environment and access Rutgers’ unique feminist resources. They also participate in the IRW seminar, present public lectures to the university community and speak in classes and community forums.