Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Gender & Society 35:3 (June 2021), pp. 297–299.

doi: 10.1177/08912432211012578


Copyright © 2021 Barbara J. Risman and Julia McQuillan. Published by SAGE. Used by permission.


At the winter meeting of SWS [Sociologists for Women in Society] in 2019, Barbara [Risman] heard Julia [McQuillan] give her SWS Feminist Lecture and was totally fascinated. The U.S. National Science Foundation had been spending millions of dollars each year to promote gender transformation on college campuses, hoping to increase the participation of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. What had we learned about the organizational policies that were changed to overcome gender bias? What interventions made the most change? What did not seem to make any difference? Julia presented data on 19 years (at the time) at her own school, where she had been a major player in the feminist change agenda. When she gave the Feminist Lecture, she also talked about the potential for valuable insights from the many feminist sociologists who were working on institutional change projects with and without ADVANCE funding.

. . .

This special issue shows that the insights from feminist sociological research are vital for attempts to create more equitable universities. We must change structures and policies. But we should also pay close attention to how those policies begin to change cultural logics, and how that cultural change can simmer undetected for years. And then those seeds planted with ADVANCE grants can produce fruit in new organizational policies years later.