Irene Tinker

Emerita Professor

Founder, International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW)

A pioneer in the study of the economic impact on women in developing countries, Tinker has combined scholarship and activism throughout her professional life. Her attraction to studying other cultures began when she drove to and from India from England in 1951 to conduct research for her doctoral dissertation at the London School of Economics after graduating from Radcliffe/Harvard. She and her newly acquired husband drove from Kenya to London: she chronicled this adventure inCrossing Centuries: A Road Trip through Colonial Africa.

As a researcher in the Modern India Project at the University of California, Berkeley, she coedited Leadership and Political Institutions in India (Princeton University Press, 1959). In 1989, she returned to Berkeley as a professor in the Departments of City and Regional Planning and Women's Studies. She retired from the University in 1998.

Following a two-year fellowship in Indonesia, she moved to Washington, D.C. Active in the burgeoning women's movement, both nationally and internationally, Tinker co-founded the Wellesley Center for Research on Women and founded the International Center for Research on Women and the Equity Policy Center.Women in Washington: Advocates for Public Policy(Sage, 1983), edited by Tinker, recounts the early efforts to alter policy.Tinker was appointed a United States delegate to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women in 1973. In preparation for the first U.N. World Conference on Women in 1995, she organized the first international conference on women in development. Papers from that meeting resulted inWomen and World Development(Praeger, 1976).

Tinker has been a prolific writer throughout her career. Her book Street Foods: Food and Employment in Developing Countries (Oxford, 1997) documents how research can influence policy globally. Two volumes edited by Tinker provide continuing insights into women's issues:Persistent Inequalities: Women and World Development(Oxford University Press, 1990) andWomen's Changing Rights to House and Land in China, Laos, and Vietnam(Rienner, 1999).Website:

Research interests: 
  • International development and women
  • Electoral quotas in legislatures for women