Welcome to the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society’s (CWGCS)!

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Dina Refki, D.A.
Mary-Ellen Piche

For over 35 years, CWGCS has been a premiere academic research and education center with a social change agenda. We expand opportunities and create possibilities for women and their families.

We advance a vision of a society where all people participate equally in shaping the future. The staff and Board of Directors of the Center a rigorous research and education agenda that focuses on advancing women’s status in four emphasis areas: Women & Leadership; Economic Security, Health & Gender-Related Disparities and Safety & Wellbeing.

Why focus on Women & Leadership?

The lack of balanced representation of women at the decision making tables in every sector, particularly in public service leadership, is one of the most critical challenges we face as a society today. It is a challenge because, when we do not see women equitably represented at the decision making tables, we tend to trust government less and have less confidence in the credibility and legitimacy of government. We tend to have less faith in the ability of government to fully represent us and genuinely act in our interests. All of this translates to political alienation, less political participation and an unhealthy democracy. The perception of exclusion of women from decision making can be absolutely destructive to the health of our representative democracy. 

When women are not equally represented in leadership, we tend to treat critical societal needs and issues as “women’s issues.” The needs and issues that affect women disproportionately tend to be marginalized. When we keep in place structures that stigmatize women and shed doubt on their competency and ability to serve as leaders, we tend to maintain the cycle of exclusion. When we do not have role models who look like us, we cannot be what we cannot see. Furthermore, when we narrow the pool of talent from which we are drawing, we diminish our ability to capture the full potential of the workforce.

While women have made incredible strides, we must work hard to change the balance in gender representation at every decision making table. To do so, we must help women construct and internalize leadership identities and provide them with the tools to address subtle and invisible forms of gender bias that interfere with their leadership identity construction.

Why focus on Economic Security?

There are artificial dichotomies that hinder women from accessing high paying careers in science, technologies, engineering and mathematics. This is a matter of economic justice and gender justice, but it is also a matter of maintaining economic development and global competitiveness. Our ability to meet workforce needs mandate that we widen the pool of talent that we are drawing from to include women and minorities. Our changing demographics point to this critical need. Furthermore, research illuminates disparities in economic, political and social outcomes between foreign and native born Americans. We must reform implicit and explicit institutional cultures as well as formal and informal structures that create exclusions and marginalization and that sabotage women.

Why focus on Health & Gender-Related Disparities

There is a growing body of evidence that women and men experience health problems differently. These differences are not only functions of biology, socialization and societal norms, but service structures, environments and conditions as well. The service-providing system does not sufficiently take into account the differences between male and female experiences.  There is a need to raise awareness about women’s unique health needs and promote a gender mainstreaming framework that calls for taking into considerations gender differences in polices, practices and protocols.

Why focus on Safety & Wellbeing?

Despite the progress women made, the statistics about women subjected to forms of violence against women in the US and globally are shocking. The persistence of this problem is a clear indication that, as a society, we have not yet succeeded in getting rid of the idea of female subordination and control. The objectification of women in popular culture and in the media exacerbates the problem.

CWGCS has been relentlessly working to fill the knowledge gaps about the status of women, develop evidence based approaches to advance gender parity, strengthen system responsiveness to the needs of women, raise awareness about existing inequities, and deepen and broaden women's access to educational and economic opportunities. Our vision of a society, free of gender inequities where women and men of all backgrounds participate equally in shaping the future, remains at the center of everything we do.

Our work must continue until women, locally and globally, are equally represented in leadership, feel equally competent as their male counterparts in running for office and confident in their advancement in a ceiling-free society, and are assured of their access and success in any and all occupations.

Together, we can keep the momentum alive, and make our collective vision a reality. Get involved with your Center for Women in Government & Civil Society!!

Dina Refki, D.A.

Mary-Ellen Piche
President of the Board of Directors



The World Within Reach

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