The Gender Inequality Research Lab (GIRL) is an interdisciplinary research forum for scholars and practitioners to collaborate on policy-relevant research on gender inequality. GIRL's mission is to bring together faculty, students, and staff at the University of Pittsburgh who are interested in gender inequality around the world, and to connect them to policymakers, practitioners, and institutions with like-minded goals. By design, GIRL crosses schools, centers, departments, and programs, serving as an umbrella for policy-relevant research on gender equality at Pitt.
A Brief History of GIRL
GIRL evolved out of the Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA) initiative, a research project in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and supported by leadership and staff from the Ford Institute for Human Security in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh. Research on GEPA at Pitt is organized through a series of Ford Institute Working Groups, which have brought together graduate students from GSPIA, but also from Departments of Sociology and Political Science, and Schools of Social Work, Public Health, and Education. Since September 2015, 80 graduate students have logged 1,500 person-hours per academic year to help UNDP map country-level tracking of existing data; and collect, visualize and analyze data on women’s leadership in public administration. These efforts have resulted in four student-led presentations, including three at the United Nations Secretariat in New York City in May 2016, May 2017, and May 2018; and one in conjunction with the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2019. The Working Group's research has also fed into UNDP’s data collection efforts, as well as into national policy recommendations for improved data tracking. In the summers of 2016, 2017, and 2018, GEPA Research Group students were also hired as junior researchers in the UNDP office in New York, and in UNDP Regional Hubs in Bangkok, Amman, Istanbul, Panama City, and Addis Abba.
The success of the GEPA Research Group -- and, in particular, the mutually beneficial partnership between Pitt and UNDP -- led its co-founders Müge Finkel and Melanie Hughes to consider ways to expand the Research Group, to increase the participation of graduate students from across Pitt in the GEPA Initiative, and to replicate the GEPA Research Group's collaborative model to other policy-focused research on gender equality at Pitt. With broad support from GSPIA, the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, and the University Center for International Studies (UCIS), GIRL launched officially on November 8, 2017.
Müge Kökten Finkel
Assistant Professor of International Development
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Müge Kökten Finkel is Assistant Professor of International Development at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to her academic appointment in GSPIA, she worked as a Social Development Specialist at the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa region, and consulted for the International Food Policy Research Institute. She worked on youth and gender-focused projects in Yemen, Egypt, and Morocco. She has co-authored publications including, “A Gendered Perspective on Social Policies in Turkey: What Do Women Think?” (2015); “What Makes a Camp Safe: Protection of Children from Abduction in Internally Displaced Persons and Refugee Camps” (2008); “Voices of the Youth: Background Papers and Country Case Studies from Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Yemen;” and “Securing a Future for All: Middle East-North Africa Regional Social Development Strategy.” Dr. Finkel is the faculty co-lead of the Ford Institute for Human Security research group on Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA), a collaborative research effort with UNDP. Her current research focuses on politics of public sector employment and opportunities for women. In support of her GEPA research, the Global Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh has named Dr. Finkel the Global Studies Faculty Fellow for the academic year 2017-2018. Her work during the fellowship will focus on bridging Pitt’s existing strengths in gender and governance studies and complementing nascent plans to leverage the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a pedagogical tool for interdisciplinary dialogue across the university. Dr. Finkel has a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Virginia; an M.A. from the International University of Japan; and a B..A from Bogazici University in Turkey.
Melanie M. Hughes
Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Sociology, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, University of Pittsburgh
Melanie M. Hughes is Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. She is one of the world’s foremost experts on the political representation of women worldwide. Dr. Hughes’s gender research has garnered national awards in the U.S. and has been widely published, including 23 refereed journal articles, 7 book chapters, 4 technical reports, and a co-authored book titled Women, Politics, and Power: A Global Perspective, now in its Third Edition (CQ Press, 2016). Much of her work predicts variation in women’s legislative outcomes across countries. She has researched effects of civil war, democratization, gender quotas, and the international women’s movement, among others. Data collection, measurement, and methodology are a prominent focus of Dr. Hughes’s research. She has published datasets on women’s political representation (2008, 2012), legislative gender quotas (2017), and women’s international organizations (2016). Dr. Hughes also works to connect her research to policymakers, practitioners, and the public. From 2013-14, she consulted with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve measurement of women’s political leadership. Along with Dr. Müge Finkel, she is the faculty co-lead of the Ford Institute for Human Security research group on Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA), a collaborative research effort with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Currently, she is working on a research monograph on the political dominance of men from majority racial, ethnic, and religious groups. Dr. Hughes has a Ph.D. and M.A. from The Ohio State University and a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. See more at www.melaniemhughes.com.
Ford Institute for Human Security
The Gender Equality Research Lab (GIRL) is supported by the Ford Institute for Human Security, which also hosts the Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA) Interdisciplinary Research Group. The Ford Institute is a part of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh. The Institute’s faculty affiliates do cutting-edge research from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, including political science, sociology, economics, public health, and education.