Making the public sector work for all genders.

Our Mission

To make public service and public policy more equitable for all gender identities

By partnering with public sector organizations, we equip administrators with the best tools and resources to make informed decisions for achieving gender equity

Our Values


Advancing equity for all people is our guiding principle. We believe when public policies are thoughtfully designed to be inclusive of diversity and fair to all gender identities—everyone benefits—from individuals and organizations to society at large.


Innovating through research is at the heart of everything we do. We use science to rigorously tackle pervasive and complex problems that impede gender equity.


Partnering with public sector professionals and other academic researchers give our work new meaning. We not only gain valuable insights and different perspectives from our partners, they help us apply our research to make a real difference in the world.  


Sharing our findings with a broad audience of researchers, students and public administrators advances our mission even further. We inform current and future decision-makers alike about the latest issues facing gender equity and the tested solutions to overcome those obstacles.

What We Do

Conduct research in the areas of:

  • Gender equity in public administration & policy
  • Diversity, equity, & inclusion in the workplace
  • Sexual orientation, gender identity, & expression
  • Gender equity education

Assist public administrators with:

  • Workshops & trainings
  • Workplace policy & program assessments
  • Research support
  • One-on-one consulting

Founding Co-Directors

Graduate Fellows

Undergraduate Fellow

Sanzida Nahid

Undergraduate Assistant

Learn More ->

Sanzida Nahid

Past Team Members

Allison Nunez

Undergraduate Assistant

Learn More ->

Allison Nunez

This timeline highlights some of our major milestones and notable firsts throughout our history. For more details on our projects, partnerships, and events, see our annual reports below.

  • 2013

    Women in the Public Sector (WPS) is Founded

    Women in the Public Sector at John Jay College (WPS) was founded in the Fall of 2013 when Co-Directors, Nicole M. Elias and Maria J. D’Agostino, recognized a need for students and faculty to focus on the role of women in the public sector, both within and beyond the John Jay community.

  • 2014

    WPS hold their first workshop: “Issues, Perceptions, and Public Policy,”

    in the Spring of 2014 to raise awareness about the perception and involvement of women in public service. More than 90 students, John Jay and CUNY-wide faculty members, administrators, and community members participated in the conversation.

  • 2015

    WPS hosts the New York City Public Advocate, Letitia James as the inaugural speaker of the Women in the Public Sector Speaker Series

    She is the first African American woman to hold citywide office in New York and spoke to John Jay students, faculty, and community members about a number of social justice issues that impact women.

    Girl Scout Global Action Award: Teen Leadership Summit

    The first nonprofit partnership with Girl Scouts of America. The primary aim of this interactive and educational event was to inform participants about global issues affecting girls. Over 100 Girl Scouts from various ranks within the organization participated.

    WPS Hosts first state official, New York State Lieutenant Governor, Kathleen Hochul, as part of its Women in the Public Sector Speaker Series

    The highest ranking female state official in New York spoke about her work combatting domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as job creation, economic development, and opportunities for women in government. 

  • 2016

    WPS hosts Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Attorney, Melissa Brand as part of its Three-Part Professional Development Workshop Series

    Attorney Brand held a keynote and student and professional development workshops with John Jay students, faculty, and staff. She covered topics ranging from injustices that have occurred within public sector employment and the criminal justice system to professional development advice and strategies for students.

  • 2017

    The Future of Women in Public Administration Symposium

    First WPS research symposium in Administration & Society journal, WPS holds a symposium focused on equal pay, paid family leave, the absence of women in key leadership positions, women’s health care options, and reproductive rights as these topics remain center stage in the national policy arena, including the presidential debates.

    person holding turned on silver laptop computer
    WPS launches its blog, Gender Dialogues: A Space for Community and Conversation

    The blog provides an outlet for academics, practitioners, and students to share ideas and rethink long-standing issues from diverse perspectives in an informal, creative space. It also prompts readers to consider the roles that sex and gender play in public service and how they shape the way we think, govern, and are served by sex and gender identities and markers.

    As part of its Women in the Public Sector Speaker Series, WPS hosts first Latina head of the Department of Probation, Commissioner Ana M. Bermudez

    This event raised awareness of the structural barriers and common misconceptions surrounding intersectional, marginalized identities. The Commissioner explained how women face difficult challenges in the workplace and provided advice for overcoming challenges while embracing one’s unique sense of self.

  • 2018

    Contemporary Theories of Women and Gendered Public Administration and Policy Symposium

    First WPS open access research symposium in Administrative Theory & Praxis (ATP), offering a promising next step for increasing scholarly attention on sex and gender issues in public administration theory.

    Presidential Student-Faculty Research Collaboration Award Recipient

    WPS received the College’s inaugural award to work with undergraduate students on a research project exploring how municipalities address gender in programming and services across the United States.

  • 2019

    AWPA-WPS Reference Tool is Launched

    WPS partners with Academic Women in Public Administration (AWPA) to develop a reference tool to promote work related to public administration that is either authored by an underrepresented group or targets one.

    Implications of the #MeToo Movement for Academia: A Bully Pulpit Viewpoint Symposium

    In partnership with the Public Administration Review (PAR) journal, WPS publishes a Viewpoint symposium to engage scholars in a timely dialogue that contextualizes the Me Too movement within the academic community as the movement continues to rock politics, media, business, and entertainment.

    WPS partners with the New York City Commission on Gender Equity (CGE)

    The first WPS local level government partnership. We collaborated with CGE to conduct research, design survey instruments, and analyze agency and city-wide programs and services. Ultimately, this partnership provides tools and best practices to further gender equity across New York City.  Working with CGE, we produced tools to better understand and enact gender equitable practices for agencies including the City-wide Gender Equity Handbook and the Advancing Gender Equity through Legislation: A Compilation of laws passed between 2014 – 2021.

    WPS sponsors the first Mother’s Room offered at the 2019 Northeast Conference of Public Administration (NECoPA)

    To ensure an equitable conference experience for all participants, WPS sponsored the first Mother’s Room offered at a NECoPA Conference, providing a model for future regional and national conferences.  

  • 2020

    First Event in the WPS Webinar Series: A Conversation with Jacqueline M. Ebanks

    During this first fully-online event, New York City Gender Equity Commission Executive Director, Jacqueline M. Ebanks discussed New York City efforts to promote gender equity, especially in the context of Covid-19.

    First WPS Speaker to identify as a “Dreamer,” Commissioner Penny Abeywardena

    At the age of four, Commissioner Abeywardena emigrated from Sri Lanka to the US. She spent her youth as an undocumented immigrant, a 1980’s version of a “Dreamer” and is now the NYC Commissioner for International Affairs. In her Webinar, “Identity and Leadership in Governance,” she shared how her identity shaped her personal and professional experiences. 

  • 2021

    WPS partners with the Scholars Strategy Network

    WPS developed a policy brief and a quick reference fact sheet detailing disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on parents and caregivers. These documents inform public officials on child care policy reform in the US.

    Initiative for Gender Equity in the Public Sector is founded

    In the Fall of 2021, WPS is reintroduced as the Initiative for Gender Equity in the Public Sector (IGEPS) to emphasize its commitment to equity for all gender identities and expressions.

Each academic year, IGEPS provides an annual report, or yearly reflection. The purpose of sharing annual reports with the larger IGEPS network is to highlight the research activity, projects, partnerships, and events completed during the previous academic year.

  • City & State New York, 3/30/2022: Higher Education Power 100: Driving diversity on campus
  • Scholars Strategy Network, 4/30/2022: Disparities in Immigration Policy for Unaccompanied Children and Minor Refugees.
  • The Washington Post, 4/27/2022: Shoe size can change in pregnancy. Allyson Felix’s brand wants to help.
  • City & State New York, 3/30/2022: Higher Education Power 100: Driving diversity on campus
  • City & State New York, 3/24/2022 Opinion: Online harassment of politicians more often targets women and must be fought with policies requiring media literacy
  • Newsweek, 11/29/21: Non-Binary, Gender X Driver’s Licenses, Passports Gaining Popularity
  • Diverse Education, 11/21/2021: Study: How NYC Legislation Addresses Gender Equity
  • John Jay College, 11/12/2021: Professors Maria J. D’Agostino and Nicole M. Elias Rebrand the Women in the Public Sector to the Initiative for Gender Equity in the Public Sector
  • Latino Rebels, 11/12/2021: Understanding Sponsorship Challenges for Unaccompanied Migrant Children
  • PIX11, 8/20/2021: Gov. Cuomo’s Resignation Prompts Reactions in NY, Across the Country
  • Gotham Gazette, 4/23/21: Cuomo Needs a Time Out and Other MeToo Approaches to Legitimizing Victims
  • The Grizzly, 11/17/2020: The Double Standard for Women
  • Medium, 9/21/20: Why is COVID-19 Destroying the Careers of Women?
  • City & State New York, 8/5/20: 100 years after women won the right to vote in New York, the fight for equality in politics continues
  • SUM Research – CUNY, 9/5/2019: Fostering ‘Engagement’ with College Students on Welfare
  • SUM Research – CUNY, 6/4/2019: Instead of Telling Women to Lean In, Teach Them How to Negotiate
  • John Jay Research, 4/22/2019: Negotiating Bias in the Workplace
  • The Center for Public Integrity / Out Magazine, 3/6/2019: Transgender Political Candidates are Increasingly Common. The Money Backing Them is Not.
  • Public Administration Review, Spring 2019: Implications of the #MeToo Movement for Academia: A Bully Pulpit Symposium in Public Administration Review.
  • The Osprey, 10/31/2018: Deer Park LGBTQ+ community responds to Trump administration attack on trans people
  • McCandlish Philips Journalism Institute, 12/5/2016: After years of addiction, Christopher Kennedy transforming into the ‘person of his dreams.