Bio for Kathryn Moeller



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Dr. Kathryn Moeller

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Dr. Kathryn Moeller

Assistant Professor
Educational Policy Studies (EPS)

217 Education Building  binoculars icon

Personal Biography

Kathryn Moeller is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is also affiliated with the Department of Gender and Women's Studies and the Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies Program. She is currently a 2017-2018 National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. Her interdisciplinary, ethnographic scholarship examines the gendered, sexualized, and racialized nature of corporate power. She specifically considers how it influences the fields of education, feminism, and international development. She received her Ph.D. (2012) from the Social and Cultural Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley with a Designated Emphasis in Gender, Women, and Sexuality from the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies. She also holds an M.A. in Curriculum & Teaching from Michigan State University, and a B.S. in Sociology and Human and Organizational Development with a minor in African American Studies from Vanderbilt University. Prior to graduate school, she was a high school teacher in the U.S. and Honduras.

Research Interests

Dr. Moeller's interdisciplinary, ethnographic scholarship examines the gendered, sexualized, and racialized nature of corporate power. She specifically considers how it influences the fields of education, feminism, and international development using transnational feminist theory, anthropological theories of corporations and education, critical development studies, and political economy. Her book, The Gender Effect: Capitalism, Feminism, and the Corporate Politics of Development (University of California Press 2018), examines how and why US transnational corporations, including Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil, Walmart, and Nike, Inc. are “investing” their philanthropic and corporate social responsibility resources in the education, employment, health, and financial futures of poor girls and women of color in the Global South as a solution to ending poverty in pursuit of economic growth and corporate profit. The book focuses on the corporate philanthropic brand of Nike, Inc. to understand how diverse, unequally resourced subjects negotiate "corporatized development" practices in distinct, yet interconnected geographies. The National Science Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation supported this project. Scholarly publications from this project also include articles in Feminist Studies and International Journal of Education and Development.


  • Moeller, K. (2014). Searching for Adolescent Girls in Brazil: Corporate Development and the Transnational Politics of Poverty in the Girl Effect. Feminist Studies.
  • Moeller, K. (2013). Proving the Girl Effect: Corporate Knowledge Production and Educational Intervention. International Journal of Educational Development. 33(6).
    Online Publication/Abstract
    Abstract: The Nike Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Nike, Inc., seeks to prove the “The Girl Effect,” its theory of change, through investments in adolescent girls in the Global South. The foundation defines it as the “unique potential of 250 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.” This article examines the elaborate, yet continually contested processes of attempting to prove “The Girl Effect.” It draws on ethnographic research in the U.S. and Brazil (2009–2010) to analyze how the Nike Foundation funds, produces, and distributes knowledge on the purported potential of particular adolescent girls to end poverty. It focuses on how the monitoring and evaluation practices of one grantee in Brazil were informed by and contributed to the foundation's broader project of proving “The Girl Effect.” The analysis explains how this occurred through processes of knowledge production and educational intervention that were predicated on an epistemological understanding of the trope of “Third World girl.” It provides insights into how the foundation extends it power and authority over new bodies, institutions, and geographies by asserting itself as an expert on adolescent girls and by influencing the development agendas of more powerful global institutions.
  • Moeller, K. (2000). The Girl Effect: Transnational Corporate Investment in Girls' Education. In Stomquist, Nelly and Karen Monkman (Eds.), Globalization and Education.
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