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Graduate Student Initiative

Support for Graduate Students


In its many years as an organized research unit at UCLA, CSW has advanced academic excellence in the study of gender, sexuality, and women’s issues by developing and fostering both faculty and student research and by facilitating productive scholarly relationships across the campus and around the world. Through funding, programming, and employment opportunities, CSW has long supported and advanced the research and professional careers of graduate students at UCLA. In recent years, CSW has dramatically extended and formalized this support through targeted fundraising, innovations in programming structures, and the creation of new scholarly and professional training opportunities. The Graduate Student Initiative is our renewed and extended public commitment to promoting the professional success and academic excellence of graduate students at UCLA. If you have any questions about this initiative, please email CSW at

Our generous donors have provided CSW with the means to offer graduate students an array of award, grant, and fellowship opportunities. The keystone is the CSW Irving and Jean Stone Fellowship Program.  Funded and launched in AY 08-09, this program provides a year of recruitment funding for an incoming Women’s Studies graduate student; four dissertation year fellowships; and up to seven research assistantships to match faculty and graduate students in mentoring/employment relationships beneficial to the research of both.  CSW also continues to offer awards for dissertation and scholarly excellence, fellowships for research, and a competitive biannual travel grant program.  In 2008-2009 alone, CSW awards supported over thirty graduate students from fifteen academic disciplines.




Thinking Gender, the annual graduate student research conference, is the cornerstone of CSW’s public commitment to fostering and promoting the research of graduate students. First held in 1990, Thinking Gender provides a competitive international forum for over eighty students per year to present their scholarship.  With their panels moderated by faculty or professional scholars with expertise in the relevant topic or field, presenters receive immediate feedback and suggestions for further work, and Q&A sessions are focused and rigorous. Because papers are submitted in advance, moderators have time to prepare thoughtful and incisive comments, which raises the level of discourse. Thinking Gender now draws students from around the country and the world, though UC students still make up the majority of presenters.  The conference provides them with the opportunity to interact and network with scholars from different institutions and these collegial exchanges often lead to continued collaboration. 


CSW aims to maximize graduate student interactions with and exposure to visiting scholars and to develop their professionalism by involving them in our public events.  For example, our Faculty Curator Program requires that faculty curators designate both faculty and graduate students whose research directly relates to the work of guest scholars.  In addition to its public lecture series, CSW structures opportunities for graduate students to participate in smaller, more intellectually intimate events hosted by guest scholars. Judith Halberstam, Professor of English at USC, for example, shared research work in progress at a CSW workshop for faculty and graduate students. Ann Cvetkovich, Professor of English at UT Austin, and Julia Watson, Professor of Comparative Studies at Ohio State University, both hosted interdisciplinary seminars attended by more than twenty graduate students. In addition, graduate students have been presented or responded at such conferences as Human Trafficking in Los Angeles. CSW also gives students the opportunity to interview or write about visiting scholars for publication in the CSW newsletter. Such interactions foster professional development, networking, and communication.


Since graduate students who do research on gender, sexuality, and women’s issues can be located in many different departments and schools across the campus and may feel isolated, CSW brings students together by facilitating several dissertation writing groups.  We have created chat listservs so that participants in the groups can communicate with each other. Each yesr, CSW hosts a dissertation wiring retreat at the end of Spring quarter for ABD students. Info on the next retreat will be available in early Spring quarter.


Students employed as Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs) at CSW gain valuable experience and training by working on CSW projects and programs. CSW provides students with training on how to write grants and briefs, develop websites, conduct basic and specialized research, make oral presentations, use subject-specific databases, and succeed in a scholarly workplace.  The Director and Assistant Director provide extensive group and individual research-related training sessions.  In the Publications unit, the Managing Editor provides ongoing opportunities for graduate student assistants to gain expertise in publishing and to develop skills in designing user-appropriate websites and databases. Additionally, CSW coordinates workshops with librarians to instruct students about archival processing and digitization, historical research methods, search strategies for finding online materials, and more. 


CSW provides a series of in-house training workshops to help graduate students develop their academic and professional skills.  Every year, in late summer/early fall, the Director conducts a workshop on writing effective cover and job letters and CVs for graduate students going on the job market.  This year, we added a workshop that focused on the next stage of the academic job search. Professors Allyson Field and Leslie Johns, two recent UCLA tenure track hires, and Bruin alum and fashion consultant Susan Crockett, provided tips on self-presentation, interview strategies, and job talks.  Another workshop covered children and climate issues for female academics. It featured Laura A. Foster, a PhD candidate in the Department of Women’s Studies; Tara Watford, Director of Research at UC/ACCORD in the Department of Education at UCLA; Marissa Lopez, Assistant Professor in the Department of English at UCLA; and Mignon Moore, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at UCLA.

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