Associate Director of Research

Areas of Expertise: Access to Higher Education, Civic & Political Engagement, 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 the Associate Director of Research at IWPR. In this capacity, she oversees IWPR research on numerous issues including recent projects on workforce development and job training.

Under her tenure, IWPR expanded its longstanding Status of Women in States project and launched an accompanying website, statusofwomendata.org. While at IWPR, Cynthia has directed several projects, including IWPR’s Social Security Media Watching initiative, and has contributed to research on immigration, women’s activism and leadership, and women in STEM. Cynthia’s wide-ranging is a sought after expert and has been quoted in a number of media outlets including The Washington Post, Fortune, Governing magazine and, The Boston Globe.

Prior to 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. Her scholarly work has focused on the intersection of feminist theory, theology, and peace studies, and her publications include Sites of Violence, Sites of Grace: Christian Nonviolence and the Traumatized Self as well as articles on terrorism, traumatic violence, and religious peacemaking. Dr. Hess received her Ph.D. from Yale University and her A.B. from Davidson College.

Publications

Programs to Support Job Training Success: Innovations to Address Unmet Needs

Report Summary IWPR report profiles effective, replicable strategies that meet trainees’ needs for supportive services.   Job training programs typically focus on teaching occupational skills—everything from data entry to truck driving, and customer service to carpentry, among many others.   But recent IWPR research reveals that participants—female and male— are more likely to finish their training…

The Status of Women in Florida by County: Poverty & Opportunity

The Status of Women in Florida by County: Poverty & Opportunity, is one in a series of four publications on women’s status across Florida’s counties commissioned by the Florida Women's Funding Alliance, an affinity group of Florida Philanthropic Network. This report is released in tandem with “The Status of Women in Florida by County: Population…

Supportive Services in Workforce Development Programs: Administrator Perspectives on Availability and Unmet Needs

Report Summary Although program administrators confirm that supportive services must supplement skills training, budget constraints often leave participants with unmet needs.    Workforce development programs offer much-needed skills training to un- and under-employed Americans.  Many such individuals also face personal challenges that prevent them from completing their training.  Workforce professionals have long asserted that supportive…

The Economic Status of Women in New York State

This briefing paper assesses women’s economic status in New York state, drawing comparisons with other states in the Middle Atlantic region and the nation overall. It examines how women in New York fare on two composite indices—Employment & Earnings and Poverty & Opportunity—and their component indicators. (For more on these indicators and IWPR’s Status of…

Supportive Services in Job Training and Education: A Research Review

This report presents findings from a review and analysis of literature on the importance, effectiveness, and availability of support services for participants in job training programs in the United States. It assesses current knowledge about these services by examining reports on training and education programs, as well as literature on the importance of supportive services…

Poverty, Gender, and Public Policies

Economic security is a critical part of women’s overall well-being that contributes to their educational attainment, health, family stability, and community engagement. Over the last few decades, women’s increased labor force participation, education, and earnings have helped many women attain economic security. Yet, a substantial number of women in the United States face economic hardship:…

The Economic Status of Women in Colorado

This briefing paper assesses women’s economic status in Colorado, drawing comparisons with other states in the Mountain West region and the nation overall. It examines how women in Colorado fare on two composite indices—Employment & Earnings, and Poverty & Opportunity—and their component indicators. (For more on these indicators and IWPR’s Status of Women in the…

The Status of Women in the States: 2015 (full report)

The Status of Women in the States: 2015 provides critical data to identify areas of progress for women in states across the nation and pinpoint where additional improvements are still needed. It presents hundreds of data points for each state across seven areas that affect women’s lives: political participation, employment and earnings, work and family,…

The Status of Women in Washington: Forging Pathways to Leadership and Economic Opportunity

This report provides critical data and analyzes areas of progress for women in Washington, as well as places where progress has slowed or stalled. It examines key indicators of women’s status in several topical areas: employment and earnings, economic security and poverty, and political participation. The data presented on these topics can serve as a…