UMass Boston


Policy-Relevant and Action-Oriented

The center’s policy-relevant and action-oriented research agenda has two aims. It examines women’s political representation with an emphasis on the public leadership of women of color to help strengthen diverse forms of women’s leadership. It also generates analyses to inform policymaking on current issues related to women’s economic security. Building on its long-term commitment to explore the combined impacts of gender, race/ethnicity, and class on policymaking and politics, the center prioritizes the experiences of underrepresented, low-income, and marginalized women in its research projects. The center’s research team is actively engaged in several projects:

Universal Childcare Simulator Project Collaboration

Center researchers are working with colleagues from UMass Boston’s Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, Anne Douglass and Songtian Zeng, and economists Randy Albelda and Alan Clayton-Matthews on the production and dissemination of an analysis of the Common Start legislation under consideration by the Massachusetts Legislature. A simulator model will be developed to explore expense, supply, and demand dynamics of early care and education (ECE) to predict how a universal ECE program would be utilized across the Commonwealth and how it would impact the cost of childcare for families.

The Massachusetts Representation Project: Diverse Leadership for a Diverse Commonwealth

While there is growing attention to diversity in political representation in Massachusetts and across the country, there is a notable absence of an accessible hub for up-to-date and credible data about the gender, racial, and ethnic backgrounds of elected officials serving in the Commonwealth—from school committees to Congress. Without public access to this information, it’s hard to assess how closely political leadership does or does not mirror the demographics of a community or district. This is why the center is collecting data to develop an interactive web portal for essential information on electoral leadership, such as trends in each municipality and region of the state, gaps in representation based on community profiles, and opportunities for achieving inclusive and diverse leadership.

Working in collaboration with UMass Boston’s Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy, William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of Black Culture, Institute for Asian American Studies, and Institute for New England Native American Studies, the center, and partner institutes look forward to making the data public in the future.

Equity Audit for Massachusetts Communities

In 2021, the center conducted a comprehensive examination of existing scholarship and resources based on the concept of a “gender audit” utilized by cities in the U.S. and across the world to measure inequities in government leadership, services, and budgeting. The team used an explicitly intersectional lens focused particularly on gender, race/ethnicity, and citizenship to develop a framework for the generation of resources that may be used in cities and towns across the Commonwealth to identify and measure inequities as well as track progress to address disparities.

Collaboration with Collins Center for Public Management

The center is working in partnership with UMass Boston’s Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management to offer expertise to Massachusetts towns and cities seeking to utilize best practices to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism (DEIA) in proactive, systematic, and meaningful ways. The collaborative team recently completed a project for Acton to prepare recommendations for a diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism position in the Town.


For more information about the center’s research agenda, activities, and/or publications, please contact Christa Kelleher, Research and Policy Director, at 617.287.5530 or


The center is affiliated with the McCormack School of Policy and Global Studies.