Re:Gender (RG)

Re:Gender (RG)


* Promotes research by and about women
* Focuses heavily on issues of gender identity
* Views America as a nation awash in sexism and discrimination against women

Originally known as the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW), Re:Gender (RG) was established in 1981 as a membership organization dedicated to “end[ing] gender inequity” by promoting research by and about women. Under the leadership of its founding president, Mariam Chamberlain, RG strove to build “stronger links between research, policy, action, and the media”—or, as the Capital Research Center’s Guide to Feminist Organizations puts it, “to tie academic feminism to activist feminism.”

During the late 1980s and 1990s, RG expanded the scope of its work to include also academic feminist research on issues of gender identity—with a focus on transsexuality (where people “identify” with the gender opposite to their biological sex) and transgenderism (where people have matching gender identity and biological sex, but enjoy behaving or dressing as if they were of the opposite sex).

In the mid-to-late 1990s, RG began to actively recruit major academic and corporate figures to commit themselves to helping women attain leadership positions. In 1994, for instance, the organization started laying the groundwork for its Presidents Circle—a network of current and former college, university, and university-system presidents and chancellors dedicated to helping RG produce research, analysis, and commentary on “issues critical to higher education” and their implications for women. Six years later RG established its Corporate Circle, an alliance of business leaders aiming to “augment … diversity and inclusion initiatives” in their employment/promotion practices. Steeped in identity politics, this Circle states: “We use a gender frame that puts gender into the context of other markers of identity (ability, age, class, race, sexual orientation, immigration status, etc.) to look broadly at how it shapes social norms in a business setting.”

From 2000-12, RG sponsored a host of events and produced numerous reports on sex- and gender-related topics such as: women who pursue careers in science, engineering and technology; women’s efforts to secure management positions in the finance industry; “strategies for retaining and advancing women of color” in corporate workforces; how women are affected by various taxation policies; the need for “gender and racial diversity” in higher education; and how the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 impacted women’s access to childcare.

When RG adopted its new name in 2013, it restructured itself from a member-based organization to a cross-sector network of individuals and institutions seeking “to better connect and align academic research and the practical information needs of policy, advocacy, corporate and community groups.” As of December 2014, RG’s Network Members included: (a) 314 individuals classified variously as advocates, change agents, policy thinkers, practitioners, public intellectuals, and researchers; and (b) 122 organizations from academia, government, labor, philanthropy, the corporate world, and the nonprofit sector. Among these groups were the Feminist Majority Foundation and the National Women’s Law Center.

Aiming to “end gender inequity and discrimination against girls and women by exposing root causes and advancing research-informed action,” RG today “envisions a world in which gender and sex are not used to determine one’s worth or opportunity”; where “female/feminine is [not] worth less than male/masculine”; and where there is widespread understanding of “how assumptions about gender and sex restrict all members of society.” To advance these and a variety of related goals, the organization administers three major program areas:

1) The Identity program seeks to address the problem of “discrimination based on gender”; change “the way we think about and treat gender in society”; and examine gender’s “intersections with race/ethnicity, class, ability, nationality, age, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, immigration status, etc.”

2) The Economic Well-Being program focuses on “issues of economic justice, work fairness, and business leadership” as they pertain to women and to individuals who are biologically male but “identify” as female. In 2014 the Ford Foundation helped bankroll this program’s Gender and Precarity initiative, a two-year project designed to “explor[e] economic security through the prism of gender”—with an emphasis on “the way workplace structures and conditions, affordable housing, gender-based violence, occupational segregation, and immigration overlap to lock people into vulnerable economic situations.”

3) The Thriving Environments program tackles issues ranging “from personal safety (e.g., sexual assault) to community (e.g., civic leadership) to global (e.g., climate change) concerns.” Under the auspices of this program, the American Express Corporation funded a 2012-13 initiative titled “Building the Next Generation of Women Leaders in the Non-Profit Sector,” which provided 27 key participants with access to skill-building workshops, mentoring services, networking opportunities, career guidance, and resources for professional development.

A member of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, RG (since its 1981 founding as NCRW) has received funding from such philanthropies as the American Express Foundation, the Bauman Family Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundationthe Ms. Foundation for Women, the Open Society InstitutePew Charitable Trusts, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Sara Lee Foundation, the Stewart R. Mott Charitable Trust, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, among others.

Linda Basch served as president of RG from 1996-2012 (when the organization was known as NCRW). She was succeeded in that post by Áine Duggan, who had previously worked at the Coalition For The Homeless and the Food Bank For New York City. Currently a board member with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Basch has also taught in Hunter College’s Graduate Social Research program, and served on the boards of Cáirde (an Irish HIV/AIDS services organization) and Queers for Economic Justice.

For additional information about RG, click here.

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