February 2, 2010
WELLESLEY, Mass.--Wellesley College President H. Kim Bottomly announced today that Susan McGee Bailey, executive director of the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) and professor of women's and gender studies and education, will retire at the end of 2010.
Under Bailey’s direction, the WCW has become one of the largest and most influential organizations conducting scholarly social science research and developing action programs centered on women’s and girls’ perspectives. WCW efforts have directly affected policies and practices in the U.S. and around the world.
“For 25 years, Susan’s leadership has been pivotal to the tremendous success and influence the Wellesley Centers have realized,” Bottomly said. “There is no other organization of this size and scope nationally that has maintained such a clear focus. The important feminist research and action programs conducted under Susan’s leadership are integral to Wellesley College’s mission.”
The WCW has been a positive influence on the lives of women around the world, its work resulting in the development of laws, public policy, services and other support for women and children. Its groundbreaking work on women’s psychological development has had a major impact on the practice of therapists and clinicians.
"The work that the researchers and scholars undertake at the Wellesley Centers for Women has informed what programs we offer, and how we implement and evaluate them," said Sylvia Ferrell-Jones, president and chief executive officer of YWCA Boston and a member of the WCW Board of Overseers. "Susan has ensured that issues that grow out of the lives of women and girls remain the central focus of work at the Centers, and ultimately this work directly impacts our policies and the services we offer to our community."
This year marks the WCW's 35th anniversary—a milestone that Bailey considers an appropriate transition point.
“I am proud of the meaningful changes our work has helped create, but there is still more to do,” Bailey said. “I believe that disciplined, relevant research and theory, paired with innovative pilot programs, serve as key building blocks for social progress. The WCW is uniquely positioned and perfectly equipped not only to continue this important work, but also to build on it.”
Bailey is particularly proud of the WCW’s international work that promotes women’s rights and leadership and ensures opportunities for global connections and shared learning. This work began with an international Conference on Women and Development in 1976 and has continued since then. In recent years, the WCW expanded its global work with initiatives across Asia and within communities governed by religious laws.
Bailey has researched, lectured and written extensively on issues of gender-equitable education, women’s rights and parenting. She is the principal author of How Schools Shortchange Girls, the groundbreaking report published in 1992 by the American Association of University Women. The report influenced federal legislation on programs for girls in science and math, shaped public discourse on related issues and led to new community-based programs for girls across the country. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Education and the Ford Foundation, to name a few.
Bailey joined Wellesley College's Center for Research on Women (CRW) as its executive director in 1985. Ten years later, when the CRW and the Stone Center for Developmental Services and Studies at Wellesley College joined forces, she became director of the newly named Wellesley Centers for Women. She previously served as director of the Resource Center on Educational Equity for the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C., and as director of the Policy Research Office on Women’s Education at Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges in Cambridge, Mass. A Wellesley graduate, Bailey earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and held a postdoctoral fellowship in public health from Johns Hopkins University.
Since its inception, the WCW has focused on three major areas: the social and economic status of women and girls and the advancement of human rights; the education, care and development of children and youth; and the emotional wellbeing of families and individuals. With 100 staff members and an annual budget of $7 million, the WCW manages a wide range of research and action projects.
The College will begin a formal search for a new director of the WCW this winter.