Welcome to the homepage of RNGS, the Research Network on Gender Politics and the State. RNGS is a network of researchers, and represents a long term research project on women’s movements and the state that has led to a series of books, a database and many applied projects and publications. In 2012, RNGS completed its work. This website serves as a record of the RNGS project and a research source for all who are interested in gender politics and the state. We invite you to peruse our website for the full range of sources and information. For additional questions contact Amy Mazur (mazur@wsu.edu).

The Network and the Study

Based on an initial collaborative book on women’s policy offices, Comparative State Feminism, twenty scholars from universities in Western Europe and North America formed RNGS in 1995 at a conference held at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. Following this, the network grew to include 38 researchers from 16 western post industrial countries and 164 associates. Dorothy McBride, Amy G. Mazur, Joyce Outshoorn, Joni Lovenduski, and Marila Guadagnini coordinated the network. The purpose was to study late 20th century women’s movements and the way governments have responded to these movements. Specifically, we wanted to document and explain instances of state feminism, that is, those times when institutions inside the state have formed partnerships with women’s movement activists to open up the policy making process to include women and women’s interests. Women’s Policy Offices have been established in most countries and international agencies; RNGS aimed to discover just how effective they have been in aiding movement activists achieve their goals.

The RNGS study was a multi phased undertaking which used detailed analyses of policy debates to compare the impact of women’s movements on five policy issues since the 1970s: job training, abortion, political representation, prostitution, hot issue. The first phase was a systematic qualitative study of women’s movements and women’s policy agencies across the five different policy areas in 17 different post-industrial countries. Publications include a book on each issue and a capstone book that examines cross-issue patterns and trends. The second quantitative phase transposed the qualitative data into a numerical dataset. The dataset suite is now available on this website. The capstone book, The Politics of State Feminism: Innovation in Comparative Research, published in 2010 with Temple University Press, used the RNGS data to conduct a systematic mixed methods analysis. For a video on a recent roundtable on the End of RNGS and the Capstone book at the European Politics and Gender Conference in Budapest, Hungary, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GY-ik3uPfs.

RNGS researchers also participated in a follow-up study to Comparative State Feminism that examines state feminism in the contemporary context. The book on this study, edited by Joyce Outshoorn and Johanna Kantola, was published in Fall 2007.

Thanks to generous grants from the National Science Foundation (USA), the European Science Foundation and other funding agencies – over .75 million in $/euros – RNGS researchers met regularly (see network meetings) and with outside consultants since 1995 to develop the detailed research design for qualitative phase of the project and the codebook for the quantitative phase of the project. In June 2005, RNGS held a mini conference in collaboration with the Institute of Women’s Policy Research’s 8th Annual International Policy and Research Conference to present the project’s findings to policy practitioners. The complete set of papers from this conference may be downloaded, RNGS IWPR Papers. We also held a short course workshop on the dataset at the American Political Science Meetings in 2007.
Given the western focus of this project, RNGS organized a workshop at the Women’s World Conference in Ottawa in July 2011, “Does Research on State Feminism Travel? New Agendas for Studying Gender Equality Mechanisms Outside the West.” This meeting of researchers and practitioners and researchers led to the creation of the Going Global with State Feminism confederation (see GGSF workshop report and list), which is currently on hold until new leaders come forward. So let us know if you are interested. In 2010, the World Bank contracted us to conduct a background paper on women’s policy agencies worldwide for the World Development report. We also developed a practitioner oriented Users Guide based on the general findings from the RNGS study and the WB report. Our last closing project is to establish a permanent RNGS archive at Washington State University.

RNGS Chronology 1995-2011


  • First book on women’s policy agencies published with Sage, Comparative State Feminism.
  • Final chapters presented at State Feminism workshop at the European Consortium for Political Research Joint Sessions Workshops. Bordeaux, France, April.
  • CSF contributors gather at a second meeting in Leiden in July. They constitute the Research Network on Gender Politics and the State (RNGS), agree on the broad outlines of the quantitative study and establish the administrative structure of the group. Country directors are assigned and Dorothy McBride and Amy Mazur become the network conveners. The group decides to focus on the impact of women’s policy agencies in policy debates in five major issue areas in western post industrial democracies. Five edited books will be produced; one on each issue area. It is agreed that RNGS will pursue funding with national and international agencies.
  • Country Directors begin to recruit researchers in all countries of the EU, the USA, Canada, and Australia.


  • Research design is further developed, grant applications are submitted and research teams members are recruited.
  • Network meeting, open to the public held, held as a day long research workshop at the American Political Science Meetings in San Francisco. Methodology of project further developed.


  • Research for job training and abortion issue areas begins.


  • In-progress research on job training presented at the conference, Women and Social Rights in the European Union: Job Training and the Global Economy, held at and sponsored by the Center for West European Studies, University of Washington
  • Network meeting held at the Université de Paris IX—CREDEP in May to discuss measurement issues and firm up data collection process. Issue network directors/editors are now appointed. Issue networks are constituted for Job Training, Abortion, Prostitution, and Political Representation.
  • RNGS-Europe awarded conference meeting funding from the European Science Foundation.


  • Three-day network meeting held at Chilworth, UK through Southampton University. Job training and abortion results are presented, plans are developed for the prostitution, political representation and hot issue networks. Group decides to make a dataset and pursue a quantitative component to the study and to eventually do a follow-up book to CSF.
  • Data collection begins for prostitution and political representation.


  • RNGS USA is awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for completing research on the hot issue, network meetings, and transposing the qualitative findings into a quantitative dataset.
  • Findings on prostitution debates presented at the ECPR workshop in Copenhagen, Prostitution and Trafficking as Political Issues, in April.


  • RNGS-Europe is awarded a second European Science Foundation grants to fund network meetings.
  • Three-day network meeting at the Centre for the Advancement of Women, Queens University, Belfast in December. Findings on political representation are presented, the hot issue group meets for the first time and agrees on sample selection criteria, group agrees on process for transposing the qualitative data into a databank.
  • Issue network members meet for half a day at APSA to discuss, with non RNGS members, research issues relevant to the hot issue and prostitution research.
  • The books on job training and abortion are published with, respectively, Routledge and Oxford University Press.


  • A first draft of the codebook for the dataset is put together and sent to the group and four external consultants for feedback.
  • A three day network meeting is held in November at the University of Turin to discuss the new concepts for the dataset and how to collect the more specific information necessary for the dataset. Members agree on a new set of worksheets to be distributed to all RNGS researchers to collect the necessary additional information for the dataset. The network also agrees to present the RNGS results at a policy practitioner meeting at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in 2005, to organize a meeting of non Western scholars to discuss the implications of the RNGS study and findings for the study of women’s policy offices in outside of the West once the project is completed, and to write a sixth book in which both quantitative and qualitative results will be presented across a series of themes. The idea of using RNGS as a launch for the Virtual Institute of Women’s Empowerment (VIEW) is presented and approved by the group as well.
  • Data collection worksheets are sent out to RNGS researchers for them to fill out and return to the conveners for the dataset.
  • RNGS-USA and Europe receive additional funding from the ESF and the NSF to complete the project and to fund the practitioner meeting.
  • The consultants, RNGS members, and other interested participants come together to assess the codebook and dataset process at a short course at the American Political Science Association Meeting in Boston.
  • The first two RNGS books are discussed at a roundtable at the APSA meetings.


  • The first 25 debates are coded by both McBride and Mazur to check for intercoder-reliablity.
  • A second network meeting is held on the codebook to finalize datacollection for the dataset and to present hot issue network findings at the University of Leiden in June. The group also agrees on an operational definition of feminism and designs a second data collection worksheet to collect information on the women’s movement variables for the project.
  • Women’s movements worksheets are sent out to RNGS researchers to fill out and send back for the dataset.
  • The work of the group on developing the women’s movement and feminist variables is presented in a paper at several conference by McBride and Mazur; eventually published as a chapter in an edited volume by Ferree and Tripp in 2006 (See project bibliography on website).


  • The prostitution book is published by Oxford University Press.
  • Capstone book authors – Marila Guadagnini, Diane Sainsbury, Joni Lovenduski, Brigit Sauer, Joyce Outshoorn, Amy Mazur, and Dorothy McBride meet at Orta, Italy to agree on framework and outline for the capstone book. The group agrees to use Qualitative Comparative Analysis to analyze the qualitative findings from the five books.


  • Country directors present findings at a mini conference, Government Allies for Gender Equality: A Transatlantic Dialog at the Institut of Women’s Policy Research’s 8th Annual International Policy and Research Conference in June. Conference paper packet available on RNGS website.
  • The book on political representation is published by Cambridge University Press.
  • Preliminary results are presented at the Expert Group Meeting on Equal Participation of Women and Men in Decision-making Processes, with Particular Emphasis on Political Participation and Leadership of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) in October in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


  • RNGS members present draft chapters for the follow-up book to CSF at the conference, Gender Equality and the State in Europe held at and sponsored by the Center for Western European Studies and the European Union Center, University of Washington in April
  • Information for all variables on 130 debates is turned into the conveners and coded by them. The data is inputted and the dataset and codebook prepared for an initial internal release to RNGS members in the summer.
  • Hot issue book published by Rowan and Littlefield.


  • Draft chapters of capstone book presented in Turin.
  • CSF II book, Changing State Feminism: Women’s Policy Agencies Confront Shifting Institutional Terrain, published with Palgrave.
  • Dataset officially released and posted on RNGS website.
  • APSA short course held on RNGS dataset.


  • Final chapters of capstone book discussed in Paris.


  • Contract with Temple University Press secured for capstone book.


  • Capstone Book Published
  • Capstone Findings presented at APSA Short Course on Gender and Institutions
  • Final Dataset archived at ICPSR


  • January 21st: “The End of the Research Network on Gender Politics and the State (RNGS): What’s Next’ Plenary Session on Capstone Book at the Women and Politics Standing group meeting ECPR- Budapest
  • Practitioner’s Users Guide Produced
  • Southern Applications Women’s World Conference July 5-7th