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Dr Ruth Lewis

Senior Lecturer

Department: Social Sciences

Ruth joined the University of Northumbria in 2010. Her research has focused on feminist activism, intimate partner violence, and lethal violence and her teaching examines these and other issues related to gender, inequality and social justice.

Before joining Northumbria University, she took up a policy development post in the voluntary sector (Women's Sports Foundation) followed by a post as Audit Manager at the National Audit Office. These roles outside academia gave her experience of implementing research in the policy context, designing and managing research projects, and developing policy. Prior to these roles outside academia, Ruth was Lecturer at Newcastle University and Research Fellow at Cardiff and Manchester Universities (based at Stirling University).

Ruth has been active in her local and regional communities, as a trustee of women's charities focusing on domestic violence, as a member of local and national feminist networks and as an organiser of the NE Feminist Gathering 2012 and 2013.

0191 227 3940


  • PhD, Applied Social Sciences ('Daily live and legal processes: the intersection of gender, domestic violence and justice'), University of Manchester 1998
  • Diploma in Advanced Legal Studies, University of Edinburgh 1991
  • MA (Hons) in Sociology, University of Edinburgh 1990

Talking Point

Esteem Indicators

  • Member of the British Sociological Association
  • Editorial Board Member, Sociological Research Online

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

My research focuses on contemporary manifestations of gender and feminist responses to them. A recent BA-funded project with Mike Rowe and Clare Wiper (both Northumbria University) examines online abuse towards feminists, particularly in terms of its similarities with offline experiences of violence against women, and in terms of resistance and activism around it. Building on my earlier work about violence against women, more recently I’ve developed work about student experiences of gender-based violence (GBV). As Co-Convenor of Universities Against Gender Based Violence (with Rachel Fenton, University of the West of England and Renate Klein, London Metropolitan University), I’m building a network of scholars examining this topic which is receiving growing in interest in the media and government. I’m producing an edited collection exploring policy, prevention and educational initiatives in relation to GBV in universities, to be published by Policy Press in 2017, with Sundari Anitha, University of Lincoln. My work with Susan Marine, Merrimack College, US focuses on women’s feminism in universities. Our publications explore pathways to feminism for young women students, their activism against GBV, and how ‘belonging’ features in feminist student communities. Work with Elizabeth Sharp, Texas Tech University examines claims to and experiences of women-only space and explores notions of ‘safety’ in relation to gender and space.

I’m part of an energetic and energising group of gender scholars at Northumbria University – the Gender and Society Research Hub. We’ve hosted a very successful Feminist Festival of Ideas and Action in 2015 and 2016 ( and are developing our work around women’s activism in the NE of England.

Current/Recent Projects

Research Projects

Ruth’s current research projects are:

  • ‘Online victimisation of women: a case of abuse, activism and agency?’ Online abuse and threats towards women, particularly feminists, on social media have received intense media scrutiny, after the so-called ‘trolling’ of women involved in the ‘women on banknotes’ campaign in summer 2013, amongst other such events. The research focuses on women’s experiences of victimisation. Using a victim-centred approach, it examines: 1. the nature of online abuse in the context of other forms of violence and crime towards women; 2. the survival strategies of victims through engagements with informal communities and official agencies; and 2. the consequences of      victimisation for victims, especially in terms of use of on- and offline space. With Professor Mike Rowe and Ms Clare Wiper (Northubmria Uni). Funded by British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant (2015-16).
  • ‘Lesbians on Screen’. To accompany a films season – Lesbian on Screen: How Far Have We come? – this inter-disciplinary research project comprised an audience study about representations of lesbians on screen, in a women-only environment. It explores: 1. the women audience’s critical engagement with representations of lesbians; 2. their active engagement with film      representations, as they seek to create lesbian storylines and worlds in the absence of lesbians on mainstream screen, and 3. the importance of the      context in which films are viewed. With Julie Scanlon, Northumbria University. Funded by Northumbria University.
  • ‘Women’s spaces in feminist politics’. Inspired by the NE Feminist Gathering 2012, this is a collaborative project with Rhiannon Redpath (Peaceworker for Quaker Peace and Social Witness), Jenni Remnant (Research Assistant and student, Newcastle University) and Elizabeth Sharp (Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, Texas Tech University, USA), exploring women's experiences of women-only space in feminist politics.
  • ‘Feminist activism amongst young women students: a transatlantic study’. With Susan Marine (Merrimack College, USA) this study explores the feminist politics, values and activism amongst young women students in NE England and NE America. 

Previous (pre-2010) academic research projects have been:

  • 'Homicide in Britain: Risk Factors, Situational Contexts and Lethal Intentions'. Funded by the ESRC. With Russell Dobash, Rebecca Dobash and Kate Cavanagh (1999- 2002).
  • 'Domestic violence perpetrators’ programmes in the UK'. Funded by DAPHNE Initiative (Measures for Combating Violence Against Children, Young Persons and Women), of the European Commission. With Kate Cavanagh. (1998-99)
  • 'Domestic Violence Inter-agency Forums in North East England'. Unfunded (1998).
  • 'Criminal Justice Interventions for Domestic Violence: A Research Evaluation'. Funded by the Home Office and Scottish Office. With Russell Dobash, Rebecca Dobash and Kate Cavanagh (1991- 1994).

Key Publications

Lewis, R., Marine, S. and Kenney, K. (In press) “I get together with my friends and I change it”: young feminist students resist ‘laddism’, ‘rape culture’ and ‘everyday sexism’. Journal of Gender Studies.

Lewis, R., Sharp, E., Remnant, J. and Redpath, R.(2015) ‘Safe spaces’: experiences of feminist women-only space. Sociology Research Online, 20 (4).

Lewis, R. (2014) ‘Weaving a tapestry, compassionately: toward an understanding of young women’s feminisms. Feminist Formations, 27 (1), pp. 118-140.

Haq, J. and Lewis, R. (2014) ‘The violence of community? Conceptualizations of 'community' in responses to intimate partner abuse’. Community Development Journal, 49 (3), pp. 373-389.

Lewis, R. (2004) ‘Making justice work: effective interventions for domestic violence'. British Journal of Criminology, 44 (2), pp. 204-224.

Dobash, R. E., Dobash, R. P., Cavanagh, K. and Lewis, R. (2004) 'Not an ordinary killer – just an ordinary guy. When men murder an intimate woman partner'. Violence Against Women, 10 (6), pp. 577-605.

Lewis, R., Dobash, R. E., Dobash, R. P. and Cavanagh, K. (2001) 'Law’s progressive potential: the value of engagement with the law for domestic violence'. Social and Legal Studies 10 (1), pp. 105-130.

Cavanagh, K., Dobash, R. E., Dobash, R. P., and Lewis, R. (2001) '"Remedial Work": men’s strategic responses to their violence against intimate female partners'. Sociology 35 (3), pp. 695-714.

Lewis, R., Dobash, R. P., Dobash, R. E., and Cavanagh, K. (2000) ‘Protection, prevention, rehabilitation or justice?: Women using the law to challenge domestic violence'. International Review of Victimology 7 (1/2/3), pp. 179-205. (Reprinted in Freeman, M. (2008) (ed.) Domestic violence. Aldershot: Ashgate.) 

Dobash, R. P., Dobash, R. E., Cavanagh, K. and Lewis, R. (2000) Changing violent men. London: Sage.


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