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The center’s research publications offer timely policy analysis on critical issues facing women, with a focus on women of color and low-income women, as well as explore gender, race, and ethnicity in political representation and public leadership.

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On the Rise—Asian American Women Elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives: New Joint Publication with the Institute of Asian American Studies

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While Massachusetts has a substantial and rapidly growing Asian American population, there has historically been very limited representation by Asian American women in the state legislature. Yet 2011 represented a turning point with the election of Keiko Orrall, the first Asian American woman to serve in the House and also the first Japanese American woman to serve in the legislature. This new publication offers insights from the first five Asian American women elected to the Massachusetts House. Katie Mai, UMass Boston alumna, was compelled to author this brief based on her own experience as an intern in the legislature, where she questioned her sense of belonging due to “a lack of faces that looked like mine in political leadership.” She tells the stories of the Asian American women elected to the Massachusetts House—three of whom are still in office, while reflecting on her own identity. The brief explores the experiences and leadership of Representatives Vanna Howard, Tram Nguyen, and Erika Uyterhoeven, as well as former Representatives Keiko Orrall and Maria Robinson: What do their campaign and office-holding experiences tell us about the dynamics of being Asian American, woman-identifying, Korean, Japanese, Cambodian, Vietnamese, adopted, an immigrant, and so much more that make up their multiple, intersecting identities?

Featured Publications

A New Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Role for the Town of Acton: Final Report

Early in 2022, UMass Boston’s Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management and Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy jointly launched a study to help guide the implementation of a new diversity, equity, and inclusion position for the town of Acton, Massachusetts. The final report, released in June 2022, offered major findings and recommendations to inform the development and hiring of the new role and help ensure the role’s effectiveness and success.

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Getting to Yes: The Makings of Paid Leave in Massachusetts

The center’s most recent publication offers an in-depth look at the negotiation process between labor and business that led to the adoption of Massachusetts’ paid family and medical leave program as part of the ‘grand bargain’ signed into law by Governor Baker in 2018. The report also offers data on the initial year of program utilization by workers and overall program implementation.

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Profiles in Leadership: Women of Color Elected to Office in Massachusetts

Released in April 2021, this publication documents the history of women of color who have held public office, provides an overview of their contributions with a focus on achievements and insights, as well as obstacles, and serves as a key resource for the developing network of women of color leaders across the Commonwealth. Initially developed in collaboration with the Women’s Pipeline for Change and released in 2015, the center produced this report in collaboration with the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition. This guide includes a revised biographical and political profile of the first Black woman elected to Congress from the Bay State, new profiles of the 174 women of color who have been elected to key policymaking positions in Massachusetts over the past five years, and quantitative analysis to better understand office-holding patterns. This publication offers a window into the many ways that women of color have made a difference in public leadership roles.

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Profiles in Leadership: Women of Color Elected to Office in Massachusetts


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