Mellon Fellows at the IRW
At the forefront of feminist research for over thirty years, the Institute for Research on Women (IRW) advances cutting-edge, interdisciplinary scholarship on women, gender and sexuality. Part of the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, the IRW was founded in 1977 by faculty and administrators seeking to expand feminist scholarship and activism beyond the university’s fledgling Women’s Studies program. Today, the IRW supports a broad range of programming designed to stimulate research on women, gender and sexuality within and across the disciplines, throughout and beyond Rutgers. Promoting faculty and student connections and building intellectual community are also central to the IRW’s mission. Affiliate members of the IRW currently include almost 900 faculty, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates drawn from a wide range of disciplines at the New Brunswick, Newark and Camden campuses.
Mellon Fellows are fully integrated into the IRW’s intellectual life. Fellows join the IRW seminar, one of the Institute’s core programs organized around an annual theme. The IRW Seminar brings together faculty, visiting fellows and advanced graduate students to discuss works-in-progress from a wide range of disciplinary and methodological perspectives. Past participants in the seminar have described it as a “collegial” but “rigorous” space for interdisciplinary engagement which is “warm and receptive to different perspectives and fields.” The IRW strives to create a supportive, intellectual home-away-from-home for all seminar participants.
Fellows also have the opportunity to meet the individual lecturers talking in the IRW’s Distinguished Lecture Series—and, of course, to attend the lectures themselves. The Distinguished Lecture Series, an integral part of the IRW’s annual programming, showcases innovative research by prominent scholars working on women, gender, and sexuality. Talks explore the annual theme in depth and are followed by lengthy, engaged, and occasionally contentious discussion—adding richness and complexity to the continuing conversations at the IRW.
Opportunities for fellows to benefit from professional advancement and mentoring are plentiful at Rutgers, and include several programs specifically organized by the IRW. The annual Negotiating Basics Workshop is a prime example. This workshop features panelists of different ranks from the sciences, social sciences and humanities discussing best practices for women negotiating for faculty positions or promotions. The workshop seeks to demystify the negotiation process for women in the academic job market, informing participants about the kinds of resources and perks that can be asked for and describing how these vary by discipline.
Fellows are also able to take advantage of the many informal networking and mentoring opportunities available on campus, and especially at the Women's Scholarship and Leadership Complex, where both the IRW and the Women’s and Gender Studies Department are housed. With dedicated office space in both locations, Mellon Fellows are ideally situated at the hub of feminist scholarship at Rutgers, and able to maximize the possibility for exchanging ideas with faculty members, graduate students, and other visiting fellows.
In short, Rutgers is an ideal place to situate scholarship on women, gender and sexuality. The IRW provides members of the lively, interdisciplinary feminist community at Rutgers—residents and fellows alike—with an intellectual home.