Five full-time Research Associates are appointed each year to pursue a topic related to women and religion. Each scholar is appointed to the faculty as a member of one of the Divinity School's departments. Each Research Associate designs and teaches a one-semester course related to her research topic and delivers a lecture that deepens understanding about that topic.
Positions are open to candidates with doctorates in religion or with primary competence in other fields of the humanities or social sciences, and to leading professionals with equivalent achievements. While the composition of the group of five scholars varies from year to year, it usually includes an international scholar, a scholar working on a nonwestern tradition, a scholar of Judaism, and a minority scholar. Selection is highly competitive, with approximately 75–100 applicants each year. Candidates are selected according to the quality of their research proposal, in which both religion and gender should function as critical categories of analysis. Applications are due October 15.
Both the opportunity to devote a full year exclusively to the research project and the atmosphere and resources of Harvard Divinity School and the wider University make this an unusually productive year for Research Associates. Research Associates meet together regularly with the director, Ann D. Braude, to discuss their work-in-progress. Close contact between scholars using a variety of disciplinary approaches and studying a variety of religious contexts focuses critical attention on the common issues of religion and gender.
The Program also has an Advisory Committee composed of scholars from universities throughout the country who help select Research Associates and provide vision, direction, and counsel for the Program's operation.
A national network of women business, civic, and philanthropic leaders concerned with women's issues have formed a National Leadership Committee to support the work of the Program. This committee is instrumental in promoting the scholarship fostered by the Program to a broader public audience.
The National Leadership Conference brings together the Research Associates, the Advisory Committee, and the National Leadership Committee, providing an unusual opportunity for exchange between women scholars and activists. While the civic leaders have the opportunity to learn of the most recent scholarship on women and religion, the scholars' work is enriched by the pragmatic concerns raised by conference participants.