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Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., Associate Director of Research

Cynthia Hess is Associate Director of Research at IWPR. She has directed IWPR projects on numerous issues, including workforce development, the status of women in the states, women’s activism and leadership, immigration, and Social Security. Prior to joining the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Dr. Hess taught for two years as a visiting faculty member in the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Her scholarly work has focused on the intersection of feminist theory, theology, and peace studies, and her publications include Sites of Violence, Sites of Grace: Christian Nonviolence and the Traumatized Self as well as articles on terrorism, traumatic violence, and religious peacemaking. Dr. Hess received her Ph.D. from Yale University and her A.B. from Davidson College.

Latest Reports from IWPR

Key Findings on the Economic Status of Women in North Carolina
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., and Ariane Hegewisch (August 2012)

Women in North Carolina have made significant social and economic advances in recent decades, but the need for further progress remains. A forthcoming report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), The Status of Women in North Carolina, shows that many of North Carolina’s women are vulnerable to challenges such as unemployment, a persistent wage gap, poverty, and the high cost of child care. In addition, women in the state experience stubborn disparities in opportunities and outcomes—disparities that exist among women of different race and ethnic groups as well as among women from various geographic areas within the state. Addressing these challenges and disparities is essential to promoting the well-being and vibrancy of North Carolina’s many communities.


The Status of Women and Girls in New Haven, Connecticut
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., Rhiana Gunn-Wright, and Claudia Williams (August 2012)

This report is the result of conversations over nearly two years among women leaders in New Haven about the growing need for data on women and girls in New Haven. The report has four goals: 1) to provide baseline information on women and girls in New Haven; 2) to inform policy and program priorities for women and girls in New Haven; 3) to provide easily accessible data on women and girls in New Haven; and 4) to create a platform for advocacy and dialogue on issues affecting women and girls in New Haven.

#R355, Report, 136 pages
Preview not available

The Next Generation: A Handbook for Mentoring Future Union Leaders
by Cynthia Hess (April 2012)


New Families, New Friends: Organizations Working With Latina Immigrants, Strategy Forum Report
by Alesha Durfee, Ph.D. and Cynthia Hess, Ph.D. (March 2012)

This report summarizes the presentations from a strategy forum co-hosted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and Arizona State University (ASU) in April 2010. Held in Phoenix, Arizona, during the week the Arizona State Legislature passed the controversial legislation SB 1070, the forum brought together researchers, activists, clergy, and other community stakeholders working with immigrant women, especially Latinas.


Talking Points on Retirement and Social Security
by Cynthia Hess (January 2012)

Talking Points on Retirement and Social Security


Retirement on the Edge: Women, Men, and Economic Insecurity After the Great Recession
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., Jeff Hayes, Ph.D. and, Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. (September 2011)

The IWPR/Rockefeller Survey addressed the extent of economic security almost a year and a half after the recession officially ended. Many of the survey’s findings are detailed in the report, Women and Men Living On the Edge: Economic Insecurity After the Great Recession (Hayes and Hartmann 2011). This report analyzes a specific aspect of the IWPR/Rockefeller Survey’s findings: issues related to retirement security following the recession. It finds that men and women after the Great Recession experience uncertainty about the adequacy of their financial resources for the proverbial “golden years,” an uncertainty that may shape how they view the meaning of retirement and their own decisions about the future.

D500, Report, 68 pages

Organizations Working with Latina Immigrants: Resources and Strategies for Change
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D. Jane Henrici, Ph.D. and Claudia Williams (March 2011)

IWPR’s study explored the challenges many Latina immigrants face and the ways that nonprofit organizations and congregations strive to address them in three areas with rapidly growing immigrant populations: Atlanta, Georgia; Phoenix, Arizona; and Northern Virginia, a region within the Washington, District of Columbia (DC), metropolitan area.

#I922, report, 108 pages

Women and Immigration-Cynthia Hess
by Cynthia Hess (February 2011)


Figures Excerpted from IWPR’s Upcoming Report, Organizations Working with Latina Immigrants: Resources and Strategies for Change
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., Jane M. Henrici, Ph.D., Claudia Williams (February 2011)


The Challenge to Act: How Progressive Women Activists Reframe American Democracy
by Amy Caiazza, Ph.D., Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., Casey Clevenger, and Angela Carlberg (September 2008)

The Challenge to Act describes the values-based public visions of women activists involved in progressive movements for change. Based on over 120 in-depth interviews with women from diverse backgrounds, it outlines seven values that motivate and inspire them to do their work. The report includes specific recommendations for policy and practice that consider how the values-based visions articulated by progressive women might reshape both politics and organizing at the national and local levels.

#I920, Report, 64 pages
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