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School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs Research Network on Gender Politics and the State

Welcome to the homepage of RNGS, the Research Network on Gender Politics and the State. RNGS is a network of researchers, and represents a long term research project on women’s movements and the state that has led to a series of books, a database and many applied projects and publications. In 2012, RNGS completed its work. This website serves as a record of the RNGS project and a research source for all who are interested in gender politics and the state. We invite you to peruse our website for the full range of sources and information. For additional questions contact Amy Mazur (

The Network and the Study

Based on an initial collaborative book on women’s policy offices, Comparative State Feminism, twenty scholars from universities in Western Europe and North America formed RNGS in 1995 at a conference held at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. Following this, the network grew to include 38 researchers from 16 western post industrial countries and 164 associates. Dorothy McBride, Amy G. Mazur, Joyce Outshoorn, Joni Lovenduski, and Marila Guadagnini coordinated the network. The purpose was to study late 20th century women’s movements and the way governments have responded to these movements. Specifically, we wanted to document and explain instances of state feminism, that is, those times when institutions inside the state have formed partnerships with women’s movement activists to open up the policy making process to include women and women’s interests. Women’s Policy Offices have been established in most countries and international agencies; RNGS aimed to discover just how effective they have been in aiding movement activists achieve their goals.

The RNGS study was a multi phased undertaking which used detailed analyses of policy debates to compare the impact of women’s movements on five policy issues since the 1970s: job training, abortion, political representation, prostitution, hot issue. The first phase was a systematic qualitative study of women’s movements and women’s policy agencies across the five different policy areas in 17 different post-industrial countries. Publications include a book on each issue and a capstone book that examines cross-issue patterns and trends. The second quantitative phase transposed the qualitative data into a numerical dataset. The dataset suite is now available on this website. The capstone book, The Politics of State Feminism: Innovation in Comparative Research, published in 2010 with Temple University Press, used the RNGS data to conduct a systematic mixed methods analysis. For a video on a recent roundtable on the End of RNGS and the Capstone book at the European Politics and Gender Conference in Budapest, Hungary, go to

RNGS researchers also participated in a follow-up study to Comparative State Feminism that examines state feminism in the contemporary context. The book on this study, edited by Joyce Outshoorn and Johanna Kantola, was published in Fall 2007.

Thanks to generous grants from the National Science Foundation (USA), the European Science Foundation and other funding agencies – over .75 million in $/euros – RNGS researchers met regularly (see network meetings) and with outside consultants since 1995 to develop the detailed research design for qualitative phase of the project and the codebook for the quantitative phase of the project. In June 2005, RNGS held a mini conference in collaboration with the Institute of Women’s Policy Research’s 8th Annual International Policy and Research Conference to present the project’s findings to policy practitioners. The complete set of papers from this conference may be downloaded, RNGS IWPR Papers. We also held a short course workshop on the dataset at the American Political Science Meetings in 2007.
Given the western focus of this project, RNGS organized a workshop at the Women’s World Conference in Ottawa in July 2011, “Does Research on State Feminism Travel? New Agendas for Studying Gender Equality Mechanisms Outside the West.” This meeting of researchers and practitioners and researchers led to the creation of the Going Global with State Feminism confederation (see GGSF workshop report and list), which is currently on hold until new leaders come forward. So let us know if you are interested. In 2010, the World Bank contracted us to conduct a background paper on women’s policy agencies worldwide for the World Development report. We also developed a practitioner oriented Users Guide based on the general findings from the RNGS study and the WB report. Our last closing project is to establish a permanent RNGS archive at Washington State University.