University of Gothenburg
The University main building, interior
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The GenDip program is led by Professor Ann Towns, Wallenberg Academy Fellow, and consists of a research group at the Department of Political Science of the University of Gothenburg as well as an international research network, the GenDip Network.

Ann Towns

Ann Towns, Principal Investigator of the GenDip program, is professor of political science in the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg. She holds a prestigious Wallenberg Academy Fellowship since 2013, and her work with gender and diplomacy was awarded a Bertha Lutz Prize from the International Studies Association in 2018. She received her PhD in political science, with a PhD minor in feminist studies, from the University of Minnesota (2004). She has since held faculty positions at the University of Delaware (2007-2010) and University West (2010-2014), before she joined the University of Gothenburg in 2014. She was a visiting scholar at Georgetown University in 2017-2018.

Professor Towns’ research probes questions about norms, international hierarchies and resistance in international politics, generally with a focus on gender. She is currently conducting a large research project on the intersection of international hierarchies and gender norms and practices in diplomacy, an inter-state institution that has long been dominated by men but where more women have entered within the past decade. As part of this project, she has carried out field work among diplomats in D.C. during 2017-2018 and will do so among diplomats in Stockholm during 2019. Her work on gender and diplomacy has been awarded a 6-year Wallenberg Academy Fellowship by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, as well as a 5-year grant and a 3-year grant from the Swedish Research Council. In 2018, her work on gender and diplomacy was awarded the Bertha Lutz Prize from the International Studies Association.

Towns is the author of Women and States: Norms and Hierarchies in International Society (2010, Cambridge University Press) and co-editor with Karin Aggestam of a volume entitled Gendering Diplomacy and International Cooperation (2018, Palgrave MacMillan). Her research has also appeared in International Organization, European Journal of International Relations, Millennium, Party Politics, NORA, Cooperation & Conflict and Women & Politics, and more. Towns is associate editor of International Studies Quarterly and a member of the editorial boards of Cambridge Studies in Gender and Politics, Politics and Internasjonal Politikk.

Ann Towns
Ann Towns
Photo: The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation

Katarzyna Jezierska 

Katarzyna Jezierska is deputy director of the GenDip program and associate professor in political science. She received her PhD in political science from the Postgraduate School in Conditions of Democracy, Örebro University (2011) and did her postdoc (2012-2016), funded by the Swedish Research Council, in the Centre for European Research at the University of Gothenburg. Since 2018, she works as a senior lecturer at the International Programme in Politics and Economics, University West.

Jezierska’s research focuses on the role of various civil society organizations (CSOs) in upholding and/or dismantling liberal democracy in Central Europe, including how CSOs interacts with diplomats and try to shape foreign policy, as well as how domestic and international actors attempt to steer CSOs in different directions. She has received three larger external grants: 1. on intersections between frontline diplomats and civil society in host states. We study how formal foreign policy is implemented and adapted in contexts where norms collide. The so-called illiberal turn in Central Europe provides an interesting laboratory for looking at the role of diplomacy and the Swedish feminist foreign policy in entering the battle over civil society (Swedish Research Council, 2019-2022); 2. on policy advice and policy knowledge production in illiberal contexts. We explore what role think tanks play in such domestic contexts (Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 2020-2023); 3. on knowledge production and advocacy in the international arena. I study how civil society organizations influence the orientation and content of anti-gender and feminist foreign policy (Swedish Research Council, 2023-2025). In 2022, Jezierska is also co-writing a report on the implementation of the Swedish Feminist Foreign Policy commissioned by the Expert Group for Aid Studies.

Jezierska has co-edited Resourceful Civil Society: Navigating the Changing Landscapes of Civil Society Organizations (Routledge 2022, with Zhanna Kravchenko and Lisa Kings) and Democracy in Dialogue. Dialogue in Democracy (Routledge 2015, with Leszek Koczanowicz). Her research was also published in Democratization, Governance, Cooperation and Conflict, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Place Branding & Public Diplomacy, Politics and Governance, Europe-Asia Studies, Journal of Public Deliberation, VOLUNTAS and East European Politics and Societies.

Haley McEwen

Haley completed her PhD in Sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She holds an MPhil in Critical Diversity Studies from the University of Cape Town and a BA in Social Relations from Michigan State University. Prior to joining GenDip, she was a Senior Researcher at the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies (WiCDS) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Haley’s doctoral research investigated how and why the U.S. Christian Right has been working to influence African politics of gender and sexuality. For her postdoctoral research, she will be further examining the geopolitical dimensions of African pro-family discourse and movement building, particularly in relation to bilateral relations between African states and those between African states and western, as well as ‘new’ global actors. Haley’s research has been published in Critical Philosophy of RaceCritical African StudiesDevelopment Southern AfricaThe African Journal of Rhetoric, and Africa Today as well as in popular media outlets including The ConversationopenDemocracy, and Rantt Media.

In addition to her academic research, Haley has also provided expertise on the anti-gender movement, its discourses, and mobilization strategies for UNESCO, UNFPA, and UNRISD, particularly in relation to the movement’s coordinated opposition campaigning against sexual and reproductive rights, health, and education. Haley has also worked with local and international nongovernmental organisations to raise awareness of pro-family/anti-gender movement building. In 2020, she investigated anti-gender attacks on the academic freedom of gender studies scholars and programmes around the world for the for the Student and Academics International Assistance Fund of Norway (SAIH). The result of the research was an open access report and video aiming to raise awareness about the ways in which anti-gender movements are threatening scientific fields that have been integral within advocacy for sexual and reproductive justice.

Haley is a nationally rated researcher in South Africa (National Research Foundation) and a Senior Fellow at the Far Right Analysis Network (formerly known as the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right). Haley is also Associated Editor of the International Journal of Critical Diversity Studies.

Haley McEwen
Haley McEwen
Photo: Emelie Asplund

Monika de Silva

Monika de Silva, PhD candidate in the GenDip program, started working at the Department of Political Science of the University of Gothenburg in September 2021.

She received an Advanced MA in EU International Relations and Diplomacy at the College of Europe (2020) and a Master of Law degree in the framework of interdisciplinary studies at the University of Warsaw (2019). She graduated with honors from both programs and received prestigious awards for her master’s theses from the European External Action Service, Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Red Cross. Her professional experience includes work at diplomatic headquarters and missions (European External Action Service, Council of Europe, Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs) as well as project management and legal work in NGO sector.

De Silva’s PhD dissertation will explore the role of diplomacy in international gender politics. The polarization on gender issues, preceded by the emergence of feminist foreign policy and intensification of anti-gender stances, makes the work of diplomats in this domain particularly interesting. The current context allows to ask questions about the role of diplomacy in overcoming and/or creating polarization as well as shaping international gender norms.

De Silva’s research interests also include human rights policies, EU external action, and legal aspects in international relations. Her previous work explored such topics as decisions to enter human rights conventions, gender segregation as discrimination, domestic violence as a prerequisite for refugee status, and status of a diplomatic family.


Monika de Silva
Monika de Silva
Photo: Emelie Asplund

Birgitta Niklasson

Birgitta Niklasson, researcher in the GenDip program, is an associate professor and a senior lecturer at the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg. After having received her PhD from that same department in 2005, she did her postdoc at the Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (Score) at Stockholm University, a project that was financed by the Swedish Research Council (VR). The postdoc was followed by the three year-long research project “The Government’s Gatekeepers”, for which Niklasson was the Principal Investigator. The project was financed by the Swedish Research Council For Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE).

Niklasson’s research focuses on issues related to gender and careers in political and administrative contexts. She takes a particular interest in the way networks, politicization, and different kinds of resistance influence women’s career development. Her current research project aims at studying to what extent the work of Swedish ambassadors is gendered and what consequences this might have for inter-state relations. Niklasson also does research on the degree of politicization of the civil service and how a growing politicization may affect the policy process.

Niklasson’s work has appeared journals such as Public Administration, West European Politics, and Foreign Policy Analysis.

Birgitta Niklasson
Birgitta Niklasson
Photo: Carl-Henrik Trapp

Visiting Scholars, Advisory Boards, Assistants & Interns

The GenDip program regularly invites scholars for research visits or to give a talk on topics that relate to gender and diplomacy.

Bahar Rumelili 
Professor and Jean Monnet Chair
Department of International Relations
Koc University, Turkey
Speaker, Oct 1 2018

Daniel Green 
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science and International Relations
University of Delaware, USA
Visiting Scholar in Sept-Oct 2018

Sylvia Bashevkin 
Department of Political Science
University of Toronto
Visiting Scholar in November 2014

Jonneke Koomen 
Associate Professor
Willamette University, USA
Visiting Scholar in April-May 2016

The projects within the GenDip program benefit from the participation of international advisory boards, made up of excellent international scholars on some combination of gender, international politics and diplomacy.

“Gender in Bilateral Diplomacy” Advisory Board
Prof. Kathryn Sikkink, Harvard University (USA)

Prof. Iver B. Neumann, Director of the NOVA Institute (Norway)

Prof. Elisabeth Prügl, the Geneva Institute (Switzerland)

“Feminist Foreign Policy and the Battle for Civil Society in Europe” Advisory Board
Prof. Kathryn Sikkink, Professor, Harvard University (USA)

Prof. Andrea Petö, Central European University (Hungary)

Prof. Thomas Risse, Freie University Berlin (Germany)

Prof. Geoffrey Wiseman, Australian National University (Australia)

Research Assistants

• Ketevan Bolkvadze, Spring 2018
• Anne-Kathrine Kreft, Spring 2017
• Tove Selnes, Fall 2015
• Lars Crusefalk, Fall 2014
• Sara Anderson, Fall 2019


  • Karolina Lecalonnec, Spring 2022
  • Kaisa Yli-Rohdainen, Spring 2022
  • Kristin Boxström Le Guillarme, Spring 2022