Chief Operating Officer

Areas of Expertise: Access to Higher Education, Center on the Economics of Reproductive Health, Civic & Political Engagement, Economic Security for Survivors, Immigration, Job Training Success, Politics, Religion & Women's Public Vision, STEM and Innovation, The Status of Women and Girls, Violence & Safety, Workforce Development & Job Training

Cynthia Hess is Chief Operating Officer (COO) at IWPR and Scholar in Residence at American University. In her role as COO, Cynthia oversees the operations of the Institute while working with program staff to support the execution of research and other projects. As COO, Cynthia serves as a member of the executive leadership team within the organization and works closely with the President and staff to develop and implement organizational systems and processes to maximize efficiency and support future growth.

Prior to her position as COO, Cynthia served as Associate Director of Research, directing IWPR’s research on numerous issues including projects on intimate partner violence, workforce development, and women’s leadership and activism. Under her tenure, IWPR expanded its longstanding Status of Women in States project and launched an accompanying website, statusofwomendata.org. Cynthia has been quoted in a number of media outlets including The Washington Post, Fortune, Governing magazine and, The Boston Globe.

Before joining the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Dr. Hess taught for two years as a visiting faculty member in the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Ph.D. in Theology from Yale University and her A.B. from Davidson College.

Publications

Integrating Workforce Development Programs and Pregnancy Prevention Services

Workforce development programs can increase participants’ access to good jobs that improve their economic stability, yet numerous factors may prevent individuals from completing job training and securing stable employment. Job training participants with young children may especially struggle to finish training and obtain a job, given the expense and time commitment associated with raising children…

Providing Unpaid Household and Care Work in the United States: Uncovering Inequality

In the United States, women spend considerably more time than men over their lifetime doing unpaid household and care work. The unequal distribution of this work—work that is essential for families and societies to thrive—not only limits women’s career choices and economic empowerment, but also affects their overall health and well-being. In recent years, the…

The Future of Care Work: Improving the Quality of America’s Fastest-Growing Jobs

Executive Summary Paid adult care work jobs are expected to increase substantially in the coming years, due to both an aging population and a comparatively low risk of automation for many of these jobs. These jobs, however, are among the lowest quality occupations in the U.S. labor market, with paid adult care workers facing low…

Assets for Equity: Building Wealth for Women in Central Ohio

Executive Summary Building wealth is integral to women’s economic security, good health, and overall well-being. Wealth—the value of assets minus debts—enables women to weather unexpected economic hardships and provides them with resources that allow them to have proactive control over their lives, giving them the chance to pursue educational degrees, business ventures, or other opportunities…

Dreams Deferred: A Survey on the Impact of Intimate Partner Violence on Survivors’ Education, Careers, and Economic Security

Executive Summary Intimate partner violence (IPV)—in which one person seeks to control another through psychological, sexual, financial, and/or physical abuse—has long-lasting health, educational, and economic consequences for survivors. Previous research indicates that IPV has substantial economic costs for both survivors and society; one recent study, for example, estimates the lifetime costs of IPV—including the costs…

Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Understanding the Costs

In recent months, the #MeToo movement has raised the visibility of sexual harassment and assault at work and the personal toll it takes on women’s lives to unprecedented levels. Workplace sexual harassment is widespread, with studies estimating that anywhere from almost a quarter to more than eight in ten women experience it in their lifetimes…