About Our Research

Together with a network of faculty affiliates, the Center on Women, Gender, and Public Policy brings multidisciplinary research expertise to bear on real-world policy problems. In collaboration with community partners, governments, or national nonprofit and research organizations, our research provides a rigorous and informed basis for policy decision-making. 

Our core and affiliated faculty are particularly strong on the issues of social policy, feminist organizations and social movements, feminist economics, population policy, human rights, planning, international development, and electoral politics. 

As with all of our work, we apply an intersectional lens to our research, seeking to understand how underrepresented and marginalized groups such as indigenous women, women of color, and trans or gender non-conforming individuals experience unique policy impacts due to their position at the intersection of multiple forms of inequality. 

 To collaborate on a research or policy initiative, contact [email protected].

Current Projects

Women's Economic Security Act in Number 2014-2024

The Women's Economic Security Act is a comprehensive employment law meant to protect and promote opportunities for women in the workplace. This memo reviews WESA's impact on women's economic security in Minnesota, produced for the 10-year anniversary of the law's passage.

Fact Sheets on Gender Equity in Minnesota

Who Leads? A Fact Sheet on Gender, Race, and Elected Representatives in Minnesota

Who Leads? reviews two decades of data to reveal trends around the gender, racial, and ethnic diversity of Minnesota's elected representatives and offers recommendations for how we can build a more inclusive and representative democracy.

Who Earns? A Fact Sheet on Gender and Employment in Minnesota

Who Earns? provides current data about women’s employment and the gender-racial wage gaps in Minnesota, explains the causes of the wage gap, and proposes solutions.

Graph showing Minnesota's Wage Gap Over Time

Who Cares? A Fact Sheet on Unpaid Carework in Minnesota

Unpaid carework is essential unpaid work that involves nurturing others or reproducing daily life. Who Cares? calculates the dollar value of the contribution of unpaid care to Minnesota’s economy, examines the gender disparities of carework, and proposes solutions.

Pie chart showing annual monetary contribution of unpaid carework to Minnesota's economy. Men 40%, Women 60%.

Essential and Exiting: COVID-19's Impact on Low-Wage Healthcare Workers

Nursing assistants, home health aides, and personal care aides provide crucial supports and often lifelines for ill, disabled and elderly individuals and their family members. The COVID-19 pandemic led many of these workers to leave their jobs, resulting in a veritable crisis of care in Minnesota. This new research report helps to understand why these workers have exited, and what can be done to bring them back. Read the full report.

A Race and Gender Lens on COVID-19

Taking stock of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact in Minnesota requires an intersectional analysis – one that considers the effects of racial, ethnic, and gender disparities combined. Through analysis of state-level occupational survey and unemployment data, as well as interviews with community service organizations and unions, this 2020 report provides a clearer picture of which Minnesota workers have been most impacted by COVID-19, how they have been impacted, and what state and community economic supports they have relied upon during the dislocations caused by the pandemic. It also lays out a clear set of short- and long-term policy recommendations to build resilience and racial and gender equity by investing in a strong social safety net for all Minnesotans. Download the report on COVID and Minnesota workers here.

Status of Women and Girls in Minnesota

The Status of Women and Girls in Minnesota provides a comprehensive look at gender disparities and their intersections with race and place in our state. Produced biannually since 2010 in collaboration with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, the report examines key indicators across the areas of economics, safety, health, and leadership.

The Center has also led research efforts examining the well-being of older women in Minnesota, and collaborated on a multi-year project to advance opportunities for young Minnesota women. Learn more about these efforts.  

Research Archives

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Working Paper Series

The Working Paper Series is designed to circulate original research works in progress that address questions related to women, gender, and public policy in order to provide fresh empirical research findings and elicit feedback and debate. Each working paper undergoes an internal review by a committee of faculty members before publication. 

Working Paper 1: Toward Equal Representation: Motivating Factors for Women to Run for Office in the Minnesota Legislature (Christina Carberry and Casey Casella, December 2018) 

Gender Diversity in the Judiciary

The Center partnered with the Infinity Project and leaders in the legal sector (judges, academics, lawyers, and others) in a seven-state network that works to understand, design, and support efforts to increase gender and racial diversity on the state and federal benches within the Eighth Circuit region.

Presence and Influence of Women Policymakers in Federal STEM Agencies

In collaboration with the science, technology, and environmental policy (STEP) area, and with funding from the National Science Foundation, the Center partnered on a research report that explored the presence and influence of women policymakers in federal science and technology agencies and the mechanisms leading to pay inequality within seven federal agencies.

Paid Family Leave

In 2016, the Center led the research team that wrote the most comprehensive report of its kind detailing design and implementation options for a paid family and medical leave insurance program in Minnesota. The report served as the foundation for legislation introduced and eventually passed by the Minnesota Senate. The Center has also led research focused on the unique paid family and medical leave needs within rural communities.

Women’s Economic Security Coalition

The Center was a founding member of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) Coalition, providing research and policy design support leading to the passage of 2014 Women's Economic Security Act. The coalition continues to hold regular summits focused on women of color and economic security, monitors implementation of the law, and fosters ongoing conversations about additional policy initiatives.

Equal Pay

To advance pay equality, the Center worked in collaboration with Minnesota’s Pay Equity Coalition, Gender Justice, and the national Equal Pay Today coalition to examine and recommend policy to improve public and private sector equal pay laws, building on Minnesota’s leadership in this policy arena, and to design incentives for private sector action.

Workforce Segregation

The Center conducted research on the economic consequences of workforce segregation that primarily affects women of color, and facilitated a multi-sector working group on supply and demand issues within higher-paying nontraditional occupations. This short documentary film, Our Rights: Raising the Stakes, features the Center's work to increase participation of women in construction in Minnesota.

Women in Elected Leadership

In 2009, the Center teamed up with the University of Minnesota's political science department to study the path men and women take to reach public office and the role of gatekeeper organizations. We subsequently used this research to address diversity among elected officials.

Reimagining Expungement 

This faculty–student research collaboration explores how individuals with prostitution-related offenses resulting from sexual exploitation can utilize expungement law to seal their criminal records. Learn more and find an interactive tool for exploring expungement.