IGSR History

Program History / About Beatrice Bain

On March 15, 1985, the Chancellor's Joint Committee on the Status of Women's Programs submitted a report stating the desirability of three separate programs or branches designed to meet the needs of three largely distinct constituencies of women on this campus: an academic unit concerned chiefly with undergraduate teaching (the Women's Studies Department), a service unit concerned with the academic and personal challenges faced by undergraduate women (previously the Women's Resource Center, now the Gender Equity Resource Center), and a research unit, described in the report as an Institute for Research on Women, aimed first and foremost at serving the research interests and activities of faculty and graduate students.

The first two units were already in existence; the third was not. According to the Chancellor's Joint Subcommittee Report:

"Research on women occupies an increasingly important place in the various disciplines and professions. Like other research universities, the University of California at Berkeley has among its faculty a number of scholars actively pursuing projects that bear upon gender-related issues. Because such research is typically cross-disciplinary, and because such scholars are often constrained by and isolated in traditional departmental structures, various universities have established research units as a way of providing an institutional matrix for their own faculties, which enables these scholars to attract additional extramural funding, while providing a place for visiting scholars and members of a wider community."

In Spring 1986, Chancellor Heyman committed some initial funding to BBRG, and in Fall 1986, its first director, Carol Clover, was appointed. In Spring 1987, the informally titled "Group for Research on Feminism and Gender" petitioned to adopt the name "The Beatrice Bain Research Group on Gender" to honor Beatrice Bain, an a pioneer feminist who had been centrally involved in the establishment of major women's programs at U.C. Berkeley, California State University at San Francisco, and Mills College.

In Fall 2023, The Department of Gender & Women's Studies changed the name of the research program to the Institute for Gender and Sexuality Research (IGSR or 'The Institute') to make the unit more intelligible on and off campus, in the U.S. and internationally, to scholars who may like to apply, and to colleagues everywhere.

The BBRG's distinguished list of Directors since inaugural year of 1986 have been:

  • Carol Clover, Scandinavian and Comp Lit (1986-1987)
  • Carolyn Porter, English (1988)
  • Elizabeth Abel, English (1989-1990)
  • Aihwa Ong, Anthropology (1991-1992)
  • Norma Alarcon, Ethnic, Chicano, Women's Studies (1992-1996)
  • Caren Kaplan, Women's Studies (1996-2000)
  • Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Ethnic & Women's Studies (2000-2001)
  • Laura E. Perez, Ethnic Studies (2002 - 2004)
  • Jean Lave, Education (2004 - 2005)
  • Catherine Choy, Ethnic Studies (2005-2006)
  • Paola Bacchetta, Gender & Women's Studies (2006-2010)
  • Charis Thompson, Gender & Women's Studies (Fall 2010)
  • Trinh Minh-ha (2010-14) (on sabbatical 2011-12)
  • Mel Chen (2011-12 interim director and 2014-16)
  • Paola Bacchetta (Fall 2016)
  • Minoo Moallem (Fall 2017 - Spring 2019)
  • Leslie Salzinger (Fall 2019 - Spring 2021)
  • Courtney Desiree Morris (Fall 2021 - Spring 2023)
  • Paola Bacchetta (Fall 2023 - )

About Beatrice Bain

Headshot of black and white photo of Beatrice Bain

Beatrice Metcalf Bain, fondly known by her friends as Bea, was a pioneer feminist known for her commitment to helping women in higher education. She was responsible for the establishment of major women’s programs not only at UC Berkeley, but also California State University at San Francisco and Mills College

Beatrice Bain was born in Berkeley on Halloween, 1915. She received her B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley in 1936 and an M.A. from Harvard-Ratcliffe in Diplomatic History in 1937. Ms. Bain began her doctoral program at Harvard but left it to return to Berkeley and raise a family.

After her children were grown Ms. Bain reentered the workforce —not as the diplomat she had always intended to be, but as a Junior Specialist (eventually becoming an Associate Specialist) of Agricultural Economics at UC Berkeley. While at UC Berkeley, Beatrice Bain founded the Women’s Resource Center, formerly known as the Center for the Continuing Education and Advancement of Women, serving as its first director from 1972-74. In 1974, she became Academic Assistant to the University Provost and remained in the Office of the President until retirement in 1985.

Outside of UC Berkeley, as an adjunct professor at San Francisco State, she developed a university level women’s studies course—one of the first in the country. The course became the core of what is now the Women’s Studies Program. She also helped found the Math/Science Network (based at Mills College), a group dedicated to encouraging school age girls to study math and science that has become a national organization.

In her later years, Beatrice Bain continued to be very active. She became an elder stateswoman of the women’s movement, a supporter of hospice, creator of a support group for retired women and an active participant in the Grey Panthers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Beatrice Bain’s efforts were key to opening doors for women, benefiting not just women’s lives but society as a whole. As Carol Clover remarked she was seen as a “catalyst for women getting together and becoming better people. Her life was a study in grace and effectiveness and we would like in this small way honor it”. Therefore, after her death in 1986 and in consideration of her contributions to women and education, the Group for Research on Feminism and Gender was renamed The Beatrice Bain Research Group in her honor. It was renamed in Fall 2023 to the Institute for Gender and Sexuality Research. We are honored that it held Beatrice Bain's name for so many years.

(1) Memorandum to Carl Helmholz, Chairman, Naming of Buildings Subcommittee, March 18, 1987, from Carol J. Clover, Director, Group for Research on Feminism and Gender
(2) The Tribune, August 12, 1985, Pioneer now fights for her life, Barbara Lynne Harris
(3) The Daily Californian, August 19, 1986, Pioneer in Education Beatrice Bain Dies at 70, Jenny Schaffer
(4) Letter, dated August 31, 1987 to President David Pierpont Gardner, from Ira Michael Heyman, Chancellor, UC Berkeley