Note from the Director


Jennifer Brier
Director of Gender and Women's Studies

Professor of Gender and Women's Studies & History

Message from the Director

Welcome to Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. We are a vibrant department within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, located in one of the most dynamic cities in the world.

From our offices we can see the glorious architecture of downtown Chicago, the Lawndale community where Dr. King visited in 1966, and the historic Pilsen/Little Village Mexican and Mexican-American community. We are truly a part of a global city and women activists and scholars have been at the heart of this city’s history. From Ida B. Wells and Jane Addams in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the historic Senate race of Carol Moseley Braun to the literary career of Sandra Cisneros as well as a host of contemporary activists, writers, intellectuals and policymakers who animate the city’s cultural and political landscape.

So given the history all around us, there is no way we could embrace ‘an academics of isolation’. After all, Jane Addams Hull House Museum is on our campus and its director a member of our affiliated faculty. So our faculty are engaged in a range of cultural, civic and social justice projects that are informed by their scholarship on women, gender, sexuality and feminism. We have been consultants to documentary films, curators for museum exhibitions, expert witnesses in sexual violence and women’s immigration cases, and the list goes on. Our three ongoing community based projects are: The CECSCO Awards and Scholarship (which adds to our other scholarship awards for students); our Westside Women in Action oral history project; and our annual World Congress on Women and Girls Rights in collaboration with Chicago high school students and teachers.

Our work began with the study of women’s lives, but it does not end there. Our faculty are also engaged in masculinity studies, sexuality studies and a range of artistic and public policy collaborations that impact a wide range of communities.

GWS at UIC supports teaching, research, service and civic engagement that reflect our deep ties to and involvement in the larger Chicago and world communities. Our faculty is engaged in dynamic research projects which include interviewing women refugees from the Sudan; documenting the history of Gay Chicago; mapping the patterns and predictors of violence against women; and looking at reproductive health of Latinas in the United States. Our intellectual projects stretch from Goa to Tehran and from Guadalajara and the Phillipines. We are a diverse group of teachers, researchers, students and community partners who work hard to forge a supportive and stimulating community.