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Stephanie Riger


Training Location(s):

PhD, University of Michigan, (1973)

MA, University of Michigan, (1970)

BA, University of Michigan, (1967)

Primary Affiliation(s):

University of Illinois at Chicago, (1990-present)

Lake Forest College, (1973-1990)

Media Links:
Professional Websites

Stephanie Riger at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Stephanie Riger Profile, Social Psychology Network


Oral History Excerpt on YouTube: Developing a Feminist Identity

Oral History Excerpt on YouTube: Violence Against Women

Oral History Excerpt on YouTube: Feminist Psychology



Career Focus: Feminist psychology; community psychology; violence against women; sexual harassment; psychology and law.


Stephanie Riger was born on April 3, 1946 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, however, she spent most of her childhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended the University of Michigan for all three of her degrees.  Riger completed her education in 1973, finishing with her Ph.D. in psychology with a dissertation entitled Changes in Ideology and Activity with Participation in the Feminist Movement.  She began her professional career at Lake Forest College in 1973.  Riger remained there until moving to the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1990, when she was offered the position of Director of the Department of Gender and Women's Studies.


Riger's feminist identity developed early in her studies.  In 1968 she was part of her first consciousness-raising group.  Within this group, she was exposed to new literature, and became active in many causes - some of them outside the women's movement.  She notes that the anti-war movement, in particular, was important for her developing sense of feminism: "the anti-war movement was going on at the time, and that was very exciting, and women were beginning to realize that they were treated as second class citizens within that movement and they began to protest and they recognized that what was going on in that movement was a reflection of what had gone on in larger society."  Through her participation in these movements, activism came to be a crucial component of feminism for Riger. For her, feminism is about "raising questions about status and power, and whether groups of people are discriminated against. So its women, ethnic groups, racial group, other kinds of groups too, sexual orientation, et cetera. I don't make distinctions among all of those... And then there's also an action component. It's not enough just to sort of think good thoughts, but you have to do something with that."


In keeping with these values, Riger remembers that one activity her consciousness-raising group engaged in was particularly important for her later research: "We started a help line. I think it was called Metro Help. That was very important to me because I was helping to train workers and I was also working on that line. And one night I got a call from a young woman who was being beaten up by her boyfriend, and I could hear him pounding on the door to the bedroom... I had no idea what to tell her, other than to call the police. I just had no idea, and it seemed to me that we ought to think about what to do for women in that situation. I didn't act on that immediately but I think that planted a seed that later led to a lot of research I found on women and violence." Being a member of feminist consciousness-raising groups also gave Riger the impetus for her dissertation, where she examined the effect of the groups on women's attitudes, ideologies, and locus of control.


After embarking on her professional career, Riger continued to be interested in the issue of violence against women in all its forms, and feminist movements and organizations.  However, she notes that some papers were written because of what she saw happening around her.  Before writing Women in Management: An Exploration of Competing Paradigms (Riger & Galligan, 1980), she had read several academic and journalistic accounts of the reasons why women do not and cannot succeed in the workplace. "I thought that that was ridiculous, and I sort of channeled my anger into writing a paper saying women don't succeed because there's discrimination against women in careers, in professional life, and in my professional life too, and that's what we ought to be paying attention to, and here are some ways that it works itself out."  The paper was well received, winning the Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women in Psychology in 1981. In 1993, she won the award again, this time for Epistemological Debates, Feminist Voices: Science, Social Values, and the Study of Women (1992).  This article is one that Riger remains particularly proud of, because it represents her attempt to understand the variety of feminist epistemologies, especially postmodern feminism.


It is not only feminist organizations that have recognized and honored Riger's contributions.  In 2000, the Society for Community Research and Action (APA Division 27) gave her their Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research and Theory in Community Psychology.  She was recognized for her important scholarship that reaches across a number of domains, but also for her teaching and mentorship.


Riger continues to contribute feminist scholarship in several areas, but particularly at the intersections of social policy and women's lives.  She has also participated in a Society for the Psychology of Women Task Force to examine the ways that feminism has influenced psychological research and theory.


by Laura Ball (2012)
To cite this article, see Credits


Selected Works:
By Stephanie Riger

Eagly, A. H., Eaton, A., Rose, S. M., Riger, S., & McHugh, M. C. (2012). Feminism and psychology: Analysis of a half-century of research on women and gender. American Psychologist, 67(3), 211-230.


Bennett, L., Riger, S., Schewe, P., Howard, A., Wasco, S.M. (2004). Effectiveness of hotline, advocacy, counseling, and shelter services for victims of domestic violence: A statewide evaluation. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19, 815-829.


Gordon, M. T., & Riger, S. (1989). The female fear. New York, NY: Free Press.


Howard, A., Riger, S., Campbell, R., & Wasco, S., (2003). Counseling services for battered women: A comparison of outcomes for physical and sexual assault survivors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 18, 717-734. 


Kasturirangan, A., Krishnan, S., & Riger, S. (2004).  The impact of culture and minority status on women's experience of domestic violence. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 4, 318-332.  


Mason, G.E., Riger, S., & Foley, L.A. (2004). The impact of past sexual experiences on attributions of responsibility for rape. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19, 1157-1171. 


Riger, S. (1974). Changes in ideology and activity with participation in the feminist movement. Dissertation Abstracts International, 35(1-B), 488.


Riger, S. (1984). Vehicles for empowerment: The case of feminist movement organizations. Prevention in Human Services, 3, 99-117.


Riger, S. (1991). Gender dilemmas in sexual harassment policies and procedures. American Psychologist, 46, 497-505.


Riger, S. (1992). Epistemological debates, feminist voices: Science, social values, and the study of women. American Psychologist, 47, 730-740.


Riger, S. (1993). What's wrong with empowerment? American Journal of Community Psychology, 21, 279-292.


Riger, S. (1994). Challenges of success: Stages of growth in feminist organizations. Feminist Studies, 20, 275-300.


Riger, S. (1997). From snapshots to videotape: New directions in research on gender differences. Journal of Social Issues, 53, 395-408.


Riger, S. (2000). Transforming psychology: Gender in theory and practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Riger, S. (2001). Transforming community psychology. American Journal of Community Psychology, 29, 69-81.


Riger, S. (2004).  Welfare reform, domestic violence, and employment: What do we know and what do we need to know?  Violence Against Women, 10, 961-990.  


Riger, S., Bennett, L., Wasco, S. M., Schewe, P., Frohmann, L., Camacho, J., & Campbell, R. (2002). Evaluating services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Riger, S., & Galligan, P. (1980). Women in management: An exploration of competing paradigms. American Psychologist, 35, 902-910.


Riger, S., Raja, S., & Camacho, J. (2002). The radiating impact of intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17, 184-205.


Riger, S., Reyes, O., Watts, R. Kelly, J., Shinn, B., Cherniss, C., Jason, L., Trickett, E. (2003),  Deconstructing participatory research.  In L.A. Jason, C. B. Keys, Y. SuarezBalcazar, R. R. Tayor, M. Davis, J. Durlak, D. Isenberg (Eds.), Participatory community research: Theories and methods in action (pp. 233-238).  American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.  


Riger, S., Staggs, S. & Schewe, P.A. (2004).  Intimate partner violence as an obstacle to employment among mothers affected by welfare reform.  Journal of Social Issues, 60, 801-818.  


Wasco, S.M., Campbell, R., Howard, A., Mason, G., Schewe, P., Staggs, S., & Riger, S., (2004). A statewide evaluation of services provided to rape survivors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19, 252-263. 

About Stephanie Riger

Shinn, M. (2000). Introduction of Stephanie Riger, the 2000 recipient of the Society for Community Research and Action Award for Distinguished Contributions to Theory and Research. American Journal of Community Psychology, 29, 65-68.


Interview with Stephanie Riger: Developing a Feminist Identity

Interview conducted on August 16, 2007 by Leeat Granek in San Francisco, California, USA.


Interview with Stephanie Riger: Violence Against Women

Interview conducted on August 16, 2007 by Leeat Granek in San Francisco, California, USA.


Interview with Stephanie Riger: Feminist Psychology

Interview conducted on August 16, 2007 by Leeat Granek in San Francisco, California, USA.