Awards & Honors

Senior Consulting Editor
Senior Fellow
E. J. Graff

Where to Find 
  Graff on the Web

The American Prospect is an online braintrust of female experts on diverse topics designed to serve journalists, producers and bookers who need female guests and sources; and a program of the Women's Media Center.

Follow E.J. Graff on Twitter

E.J. Graff

E.J. Graff

Fellowships & Research Awards 
Investigative Highlights 
Public Speaking 
Other Affiliations 
Selected Articles

E.J. Graff is a senior consulting editor and senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism where she investigates and exposes some of the serious inequities, injustices, and human rights issues that confront many women. Since 2001, she has been a resident scholar at Brandeis University's Women’s Studies Research Center.

As an author and journalist, Graff has written widely about such issues as corruption in international adoption, discrimination and violence against women and children, marriage and family, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights issues. She has written two books and many articles. Her widely praised work is often cited in legal journals, reprinted for use in academic courses and textbooks, entered as courtroom exhibits, and quoted by government policymaking bodies. Her articles have appeared in such publications as the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, Columbia Journalism Review, Democracy Journal, Foreign Policy, Los Angeles Times, Ms., The Nation, The New Republic,, Village Voice, Women’s Review of Books, and in more than a dozen anthologies.

An expert in social policy, Graff has appeared in several documentaries; is regularly interviewed by public and commercial media outlets such as NPR, ABC, CBC, BBC, PBS, MTV, satellite radio, and cable news; and gives talks and engages in debates in public forums in the U.S. and abroad.

Graff served as the Schuster Institute's associate director until May 2011, after coming aboard as senior researcher in December 2005.

Fellowships and research awards

Graff’s research and analysis have been furthered by prestigious fellowships and research awards. During the 2000-2001 academic year, she was a Liberal Arts Fellow in Law and Journalism at Harvard Law School, where she examined the intersection of law and social values. In 2001, she received The Nation Institute Investigative Fund Research Award to investigate injustices based on gender identity and presentation. From 1997 to 1999, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Radcliffe Schlesinger Library, where she wrote her first book.

 Getting Even

"Getting Even" revealed that the wage gap between women and men is due to sex discrimination; exposed endemic management indifference to women's equality; and showed social science advances in understanding bias.

Graff collaborated on former Lt. Governor Evelyn Murphy’s book "Getting Even: Why Women Still Don't Make As Much As Men--And What To Do So We Will", published by Simon & Schuster/Touchstone in October 2005. The book revealed the fact that the gender wage gap has remained steady for more than a decade, and that much of the gap is due to illegal discrimination. It brought together in one place—for the first time—a list of sex discrimination settlements and jury awards, revealing the extent of sex discrimination in the U.S. workplace and how that can be attributed to management indifference to active and passive injustice.

"Getting Even" launched Murphy’s campaign to close the wage gap within ten years, under the auspices of her new organization, the WAGE (Women Are Getting Even) Project. The book was called “a compelling and convincing read” that is supported by “copious statistics” and “the testimonies of scores of women who have felt the sting of sex discrimination,” as Cecil Johnson wrote in The Salt Lake Tribune. The book has been praised in print  in such publications as The Washington Post and the Boston Globe, as well as on the web and on local and national media outlets (public and commercial, AM and FM, cable and network) coast to coast, and stayed on bestseller lists for weeks at a time.

In her research for "Getting Even," Graff showed the limits and scope of equal employment opportunity and sexual harassment case law, and revealed recent advances in the social science of bias. In follow-up articles, reported commentary, and radio appearances, Graff has continued bringing to the nation’s attention such related problems as sexual harassment, involuntary “mommy tracking,” and the high cost of the wage gap.

 What is Marriage For? by E.J. Graff

"What Is Marriage For?" brought a reasoned, historical perspective to debates over same-sex marriage.

Graff’s first book "What Is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution," examined 2,500 years of a central pillar of social life, and asked why, for the first time in history, Western society is opening the institution to same-sex couples. In writing "What Is Marriage For?," Graff researched the history of marriage and the family, and discovered that dramatic shifts have taken place in marriage policy, customs, theology, and law over the millennia. Her book makes vividly clear that over 6,000 years of history, marriage has constantly shifted to suit each era and economy, each culture and class. The book serves as a historical primer relevant to a wide range of contemporary marriage and family debates: about love, sex, and money; mothers, fathers, and others; living together versus taking vows; pre-nups and divorce decrees; first vows and last rites; and much more.

Published five years before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court made Massachusetts the first U.S. state to open marriage to same-sex pairs, "What Is Marriage For?" offered a groundbreaking set of extensively researched arguments about contemporary marriage philosophy, and was the first book to examine the question of same-sex marriage from the point of view of women instead of men. As a result, Graff repeatedly appeared as a guest expert in film and television documentaries, and on radio and television talk shows, both in the U.S. and abroad. "What Is Marriage For?" has been extensively cited in every book on same-sex marriage that has since been published. The book was summarized on the floor of the California legislature when it debated its domestic partnership and marriage proposals; was distributed to members of Vermont’s senate judicial committee when they were debating their breakthrough civil unions law; and was quoted by the Canadian Law Reform Commission in its recommendation that the Canadian government open marriage to same-sex pairs. The Unitarian Universalist Association has created a group study guide for "What Is Marriage For?" and recommended that member congregations read and discuss the book.

Reviews, commentary, excerpts, and interviews with the author appeared in major publications nationwide, such as The New Yorker, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and in several social issues anthologies. The Chicago Tribune called it "an enlightening romp through the history of marriage in western Europe and the U.S.," while Kirkus Reviews called it “a well-organized work of thoughtful popular history that displays considerable wit and verve, and that is in equal measure instructive and entertaining.”

Investigative highlights

Corruption in international adoption

In an in-depth series of articles resulting from two years of research conducted while on staff at the Schuster Institute, Graff exposed the myth that the underdeveloped world is overflowing with healthy babies in need of new Western homes. While there are indeed millions of children in dire need of assistance, the vast majority of those who need new families are five or older. Graff’s work showed the steps by which Western adoption agencies’ money can induce unscrupulous middlemen to buy, defraud, coerce, or even kidnap children away from their birthfamilies for sale into international adoption; showed the faces of families harmed by wrongful adoptions; and reported on experts’ suggested policy proposals for fairer adoption practices. 

“The Lie We Love,” Foreign Policy, Nov./Dec. 2008, won four awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists’ prestigious Sigma Chi Delta award for the Best in Magazine Investigative Reporting. Other articles in the series were published in, The Washington Post, and To enable interested readers and policymakers could examine and weigh the evidence for themselves, Graff and the Schuster Institute organized and posted online such background documents as news reports, academic research, government and NGO materials, and other information that led to the articles’ publication.

As part of the investigation, Graff published “The Baby Business,” Democracy Journal, Summer 2010, which reported on policy proposals for fairer international adoption practices. "Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis," an accompanying article posted in Foreign Policy Online, reports on the State Department’s difficulties in ending the 2007-2008 adoption fraud crisis in Vietnam, based on hundreds of pages internal of documents received under Freedom of Information Act requests.

Sexual harassment of teenage workers

In the 21st century’s first decade, regional attorneys at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) started seeing a sharp increase in the number and severity of sexual harassment complaints from teenage workers on their after-school, weekend, and summer jobs. Graff’s groundbreaking investigation into this unreported problem was published as “Is Your Daughter Safe at Work,” Good Housekeeping, June 2008—and revealed that, if academic estimates are correct, more than 200,000 teenagers a year are being sexually assaulted by coworkers, supervisors, and managers. That investigation led to a collaboration with Maria Hinojosa at NOW on PBS. NOW’s broadcast, “Is Your Daughter Safe at Work?”, which aired on February 20, 2009, was based on Graff’s in-depth reporting and featured an interview with her as an expert source.

Revealed secret investigation into sexual harassment in the Marines

After Graff wrote about the cover-up of sexual harassment at the U.S. Air Force Academy in The American Prospect’s May 2003 issue, female investigators contacted her to leak documents about their investigation into similar behavior in the U.S. Marines, and into the undermining of DACOWITS, the agency launched by President Eisenhower to protect the interests of women in the military. She investigated and wrote about the documents in the July 2003 Prospect, explaining that they revealed a climate of fear and intimidation, with little recourse for female Marines who were being sexually harassed.

Reporting and analysis on injustices toward lesbians and gay men

Graff was the first to write in the New York Times Magazine’s late “Hers” column about lesbian issues, and was a pioneer in writing for mainstream publications about injustices facing lesbians and gay men. Her investigative articles have included in-depth reporting on bio-mothers trying to manipulate existing laws to deny custody and visitation to their children’s other mothers—even after the co-mother’s adoption is final, and even though the co-mother has been an integral part of the child’s birth and family life. She covered the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court oral arguments, after having reported extensively on the unjust ways in which American sodomy laws were used. For instance, in a variety of cases, men and women who acknowledged being gay or lesbian were denied employment or child custody on the grounds that they were admitted felons—i.e., that they violated state sodomy laws. 

Graff was the first national reporter to write about the bifurcated tax filing status facing Massachusetts same-sex couples who are married under state law, but single to the United States government. She has written numerous times about the current status of same-sex partnership recognition laws around the globe, from Amsterdam to Israel to India. Because of that knowledge, she has been a keynote speaker at international human rights conferences in Turin, Italy and in Toronto, Canada.

Looking beyond XX and XY

In a series of articles that appeared in four different publications, Graff researched, reported on, and analyzed the creation and rise of a new social identity, called “transgender.” Outlining this new movement’s history and legal and moral claims, she reported on such cases as a teenage girl incarcerated for three years in a mental hospital (where she was twice raped) because she refused to wear a dress; a man fired from his truckdriving job when his employer learned that, off the job, he sometimes wore feminine clothes; and cross-dressers wounded in car accidents or beatings who were laughed at and left to die when paramedics discover their “real” sex. Funded with a research award from The Nation Institute Investigative Fund, Graff’s reporting into research on how nature, nurture, and culture intersect to create a variety of gender identities has been widely reprinted and anthologized.

Public speaking

Graff is regularly interviewed on radio and television, and is often invited as a public speaker on such issues as the dearth of women’s bylines in the mainstream media, gender and social justice, the history of marriage, international laws about same-sex partnership recognition, and whether same-sex couples belong within today’s philosophy of marriage.

Graff has spoken at conferences, law seminars, government presentations, churches, synagogues, and colleges, including the Nieman Fellows Colloquium, the Neiman Foundation, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the Cambridge Forum, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s annual convention, the Demos Institute, Stanford University, University of California at Davis, Reed College, University of Southern California, Regis College, Quinnipiac Law School, UMass/Boston, UMass/Amherst, New England School of Law, George Mason University, Ohio University, MIT, the Radcliffe Institute, and The New School. 

Graff has been interviewed or has offered commentary on such programs as ABC's "Good Morning America," New England Cable TV’s "Nightly News," WBGH’s "Greater Boston," BBC’s "The World," MTV’s documentary series, PBS’s "In the Life," Amy Goodman’s "Democracy Now," on Pacifica radio, CBC radio, and on numerous NPR programs, including "The Connection," "Talk of the Nation," "On the Media," and the "Diane Rehm Show."  

Other affiliations

WAM! (Women, Action, & Media): Graff was a cofounder of and senior advisor to the WAM! (Women, Action, & Media) conference held annually in Cambridge, Mass., for six years, which now exists as a loosely-organized community. WAM! is dedicated to investigating and addressing the disappearance of women’s bylines from the mainstream and alternative media, and to building a community of women and men dedicated to improving the quality of the American news media. Graff is an anchoring member of the WAM! listserv, through which attendees maintain relationships, swap information, and compare strategies for ensuring that a diversity of women’s voices are adequately represented in today’s public policy discussions. 

Graff is a board member of JAWS (Journalism & Women Symposium). Born in Brooklyn and raised in the Midwest, she is a summa cum laude graduate of the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College and holds a master’s degree from Warren Wilson College.

Selected articles

"Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis,", September 10, 2010.

“The Baby Business,” Democracy Journal, Summer 2010.

"Preventing adoption disasters," The Boston Globe Op-Ed, April 17, 2010.

"Roman Polanski's rape," Oct. 17, 2009, The Boston Globe.

"The Seamier Side of International Adoption," May 10, The New York Times Opinion Blog.

"The Orphan Trade: A look at families affected by corrupt international adoptions," May 8, 2009,

"The Adoption Underworld'," January 11, 2009, The Washington Post.

"The problem with saving the world's 'orphans'" The Boston Globe Op-Ed, December 11, 2008.

"The Lie We Love," Foreign Policy, Nov./Dec. 2008.

"A Practical Present for Mom," The Boston Globe, May 13, 2007.

"The Mommy War Machine," Washington Post Outlook, April 29, 2007.

"The Opt-Out Myth," Columbia Journalism Review, March/April 2007.

"Striking back," The Boston Globe, September 3, 2006.

"Till Hardships Do All of Us Part," The Boston Globe, July 25, 2006.

"Fighting for Fair Treatment," The American Prospect Online, April 27, 2006.

"The Skinny Pink Paycheck Syndrome," E.J. Graff and Evelyn Murphy, Los Angeles Times, February 12, 2006.

"Too Pretty a Picture,” Washington Post Outlook, November 13, 2005. Followup online chat,, November 14, 2005.

"The Line on Sex," Columbia Journalism Review, September/October 2005.

"The Wage Gap: Why Women Are Still Paid Less Than Men,” The Boston Globe, October 9, 2005.

"The Working Mommy Trap,”, October 5, 2005.

Review: Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich, The Boston Globe, September 18, 2005.

"Marrying Outside the Box,” The New York Times Magazine, April 10, 2005.

“A Few Good Men?” The American Prospect, May 2003.

“Bring Me Women,” The American Prospect, July 2003.

Back to top