BBRG History and Goals

On March 15, 1985, the Chancellor's Joint Committee on the Status of Women's Programs submitted a report stating the desirability of three separate programs or branches designed to meet the needs of three largely distinct constituencies of women on this campus: an academic unit concerned chiefly with undergraduate teaching (the Women's Studies Department), a service unit concerned with the academic and personal challenges faced by undergraduate women (previously the Women's Resource Center, now the Gender Equity Resource Center), and a research unit, described in the report as an Institute for Research on Women, aimed first and foremost at serving the research interests and activities of faculty and graduate students.

The first two units were already in existence; the third was not. According to the Chancellor's Joint Subcommittee Report:

"Research on women occupies an increasingly important place in the various disciplines and professions. Like other research universities, the University of California at Berkeley has among its faculty a number of scholars actively pursuing projects that bear upon gender-related issues. Because such research is typically cross-disciplinary, and because such scholars are often constrained by and isolated in traditional departmental structures, various universities have established research units as a way of providing an institutional matrix for their own faculties, which enables these scholars to attract additional extramural funding, while providing a place for visiting scholars and members of a wider community."

In Spring 1986, Chancellor Heyman committed some initial funding to BBRG, and in Fall 1986, its first director, Carol Clover, was appointed. In Spring 1987, the informally titled "Group for Research on Feminism and Gender" petitioned to adopt the name "The Beatrice Bain Research Group on Gender" to honor Beatrice Bain, an a pioneer feminist who had been centrally involved in the establishment of major women's programs at U.C. Berkeley, California State University at San Francisco, and Mills College.

Conferences that BBRG has hosted include:

  • Undisciplined Bodies: Feminist Perspectives on Gender & Sexuality October 5, 2001
  • The Transnational Politics of Gender & Consumption October 8 & 9, 1999
  • Subjects of Tourism: Globalization, Gender & Circuits of Desire February 12, 1999
  • Gender & Globalization March 12-15, 1998 Boundaries in Question 2000
  • Women Imprisoned March 3-4, 2000
  • Boundaries in Question 1999: Geographies of Feminism March 5-6, 1999
  • Boundaries in Question 1998: Designing Women March 6-7, 1998

The BBRG's distinguished list of Directors since inaugural year of 1986 have been:

  • Carol Clover, Scandinavian and Comp Lit (1986-1987)
  • Carolyn Porter, English (1988)
  • Elizabeth Abel, English (1989-1990)
  • Aihwa Ong, Anthropology (1991-1992)
  • Norma Alarcon, Ethnic, Chicano, Women's Studies (1992-1996)
  • Caren Kaplan, Women's Studies (1996-2000)
  • Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Ethnic & Women's Studies (2000-2001)
  • Laura E. Perez, Ethnic Studies (2002 - 2004) J
  • Jean Lave, Education (2004 - 2005)
  • Catherine Choy, Ethnic Studies (2005-2006)
  • Paola Bacchetta, Gender & Women's Studies (2006-2010)
  • Charis Thompson, Gender & Women's Studies (Fall 2010)
  • Trinh Minh-ha (2010-14) (on sabbatical 2011-12)
  • Mel Chen (2011-12 interim director and 2014-16)
  • Paola Bacchetta (Fall 2016)

Goals and Activities

Invited Outside Speakers: Lectures and Conferences

BBRG brings to the U.C.B. campus internationally known feminist scholars (as well as journalists, artists and activists) to lecture in the fields of African-American studies, anthropology, art and art history, Asian American studies, biology, business, Chicano studies, education, ethnic studies, film, forestry, French, history, law, linguistics, literature, medical anthropology, philosophy, political science, sociology, Spanish and Portuguese, technology, theology and women's studies.

These lectures draw large interdisciplinary audiences of Bay Area faculty, graduate students and community members. In addition, BBRG co-sponsors, with a wide range of departments, dozens of lectures, conferences, symposia and colloquia by prominent researchers working on gender issues. As co-sponsor, BBRG helps defray the costs incurred by the other departments, assists in organizing and producing events, and perhaps most significantly, insures a large and diverse audience that generates discussion across disciplinary lines.

In addition to organizing its own conferences, BBRG has collaborated with other universities and departments to produce such major conferences as "Women at Cal: The First 125 Years" (Spring 1995), "Sounding the Difference: Music & Politics in America & Beyond" (Fall 1995), "Double Lives: Women Writing in the Russian Tradition" (Spring 1996), "Queer Safe Space: Scholarship and Solidarity in an Age of Diversity" (Spring 1996), "Feminisms in Latin America & the Caribbean" (Spring 1996), and "Gender & Belief Systems" (Spring 1996).

Affiliated Scholars Program

Part of BBRG's original mission is to provide institutional affiliation for feminist scholars on leave from, or unaffiliated with, other universities. Since its inception, BBRG's Affiliated Scholars Program has drawn 100 feminist scholars from around the world and across the country. They have come from Departments of American Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Design and Industry, Education, English, French, History, Latin American Studies, Law, Math, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Semiotics, Social Work, Sociology, Statistics and Women's Studies. If you are interested in applying for affiliation, please check out the Affiliated Scholars Program page.

BBRG offers the scholars library privileges, shared office space, and most importantly, access to a receptive community with common interests and needs. The Affiliated Scholars meet frequently to discuss their research projects, resulting in presentations of this work to the UCB community and general public. Find a list of this year's scholars on the Current Scholar’s List.

The original plan of creating a feminist research institute on this campus included offering financial support to the Affiliated Scholars, which would attract a wider range of applicants and make it possible to define a thematic focus for the Affiliated Scholars Program each year. Future activities will be instituted to fulfill the initial goal of financial support.

If you are interested in making a donation to BBRG, please consider making a secure online donation or call (510) 643-7172.