For 40 years, the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) has conducted research and action projects that inform public policy and shape public opinion. We examine crucial questions growing out of the lives of women—questions that affect everyone. By presenting new knowledge and offering solutions to some of today’s most pressing social policy issues, our work generates changes in attitudes, practices, and policies.
Legislators, educators, counselors, and program developers all rely on our work to craft laws, initiate policy change, and implement effective practices. Advocates use research findings and new theoretical insights to challenge outmoded societal and legal norms. Disciplined, relevant research and theory paired with innovative pilot programs are key building blocks for social progress.
No other women’s research-and-action organization can match WCW’s depth of experience, consistency of focus, and track record of positive change. In short, we have the expertise essential to take on issues critical to improving the lives of women and families, and the wider society.
Our work is essential.
Our work makes a difference.
Examples of our influence include:
• Child care for school-age youth: WCW scholars were the first in the nation to respond with research to the urgent need for workable solutions. Our groundbreaking research, policy development, and training programs set the standards for out-of school time, profoundly improving the lives of parents and children.
• Quality early child care and education: Our studies on the ability of early care and education programs to support young children's growth and development and prepare them for later school success have shaped local, state, and federal policies.
• Gender equity in education: Our 1992 report, How Schools Shortchange Girls, influenced federal legislation on programs for girls in science and math, shaped public discourse on these and related issues, and led to new community-based programs for girls across the country.
• Peer sexual harassment and bullying in schools: Our research raised public consciousness about these serious problems, not only in the U.S. but around the globe.
• Women’s psychological development: The work of WCW scholars led to Relational-Cultural Theory, affirming that all people thrive in relationships and through connection, and shifting the traditional paradigm that focuses on independence to one that recognizes the importance of interdependence. This new understanding has changed counseling and psychotherapy practices as well as public understanding of factors contributing to psychological health.
• Working families: We pioneered research on the positive effects of women's employment on working families, and examined the roles of workplace policies and working conditions, to generate a deeper understanding of the lives of working families - contributing to new workplace policies and attitudes toward working families.
• Influencing boardroom culture: Our research indicated that a “critical mass” of three or more women is needed on a corporate board before the contributions, values, and perspectives of female board members can effect positive change.
• Family violence in the U.S. military: Research on domestic violence in military families led to new prevention and intervention policies and programs in the U.S. Navy.
• Advancing women’s rights in Asia: WCW spearheaded efforts to develop and train a network of Asian lawyers, legal academics, and activists to pursue new lawmaking initiatives in the region.
• Promoting the rights of women and children: A collaboration with UNICEF brought together leading women’s and children’s rights advocates from across Asia to pursue mutual goals at a groundbreaking conference in Bangkok.