Research in Women’s and Gender Studies

Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) at UNSW is a vibrant, cross-disciplinary area of study that situates women, feminism, gender, sex and sexualities at the centre of academic analysis. Scholars affiliated to WGS teach and research across a wide span of areas, including world history, human rights, sex and desire, women’s writing, Asian cultures and queer and gender theory.

WGS scholars are outward-looking, politically engaged and theoretically innovative: we aim to make WGS an area of study that has the capacity to explain the world and perhaps even change it. We analyse gender as part of a wider web of social relations in which gender intersects with other categories of difference, including race, ethnicity, class and disability. We also tackle a range of geographical areas and offer non-Eurocentric approaches to women and gender.

WGS is offered as a Postgraduate Supervision Area within a Doctor of Philosophy or Masters by Research program.

Research Focus

Researchers in WGS can be found throughout FASS and typically their work is at the cutting edge of research in the social sciences and humanities. Our research examines the implications of gender and sex at all levels, ranging from the international, to relationships within the domestic sphere of home and family. While we bring a variety of methodologies and commitments to WGS research, our approach is broadly informed by a feminism that emphasises dialogue and collaboration across disciplines and contexts.

The range of research specialisations also indicate how deeply relevant WGS is to the contemporary world and to UNSW2025’s commitment to social justice. At a glance, some of our areas of research expertise at UNSW Sydney include:

  • past and present feminisms in national, global and transnational contexts
  • critical, feminist and queer theory
  • childhood, children and the family, and education
  • the construction of gender in the media; gender and public health

Staff strengths and accomplishments

Scholars in WGS research across many disciplines in FASS. Within the School of Humanities and Languages, a distinguishing feature of WGS scholarship is its cross-cultural, non-Eurocentric and historical approach. Its alignment with UNSW’s Grand Challenge Refugees and Migrants is reflected in the work of a number of scholars and in WGS’s links with the FASS Forced Migration network.

Staff members incorporate women and gender into their work in a variety of ways. Stefania Bernini is a historian whose research focuses on the family in post-war Europe. Joanne Faulkner is a philosopher with an ongoing research focus on the politicisation of the child and childhood. Her other research interests include psychoanalytic theory, feminist theory and critical race theory. Anne O’Brien is a historian of Australia who researches gender and homelessness – including Indigenous forced migration - social policy, philanthropy and religion. Diana Palaversich works in Latin American literary and cultural studies. Mina Roces’ research interests lie in twentieth century Philippine history particularly women’s history, women in Asia and Filipina migrants. Zora Simic researches past and present feminisms, female sexuality and migrants and refugees.

Keywords

gender; women; family; children; feminism; female sexuality