Francesca Gains

Francesca Gains


  • Professor, Academic Co-Director Policy@Manchester, Politics

Personal profile


Francesca Gains is a Professor of Public Policy and Academic Co-Director of Policy@Manchester at the University of Manchester. Before becoming an academic she worked in local government & the probation service, and has both government funded and Parliamentary research experience. In 2020 she was invited to join the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Women and Girls Equality Panel, and since 2019 has been on the Oversight Board of GM4Women2028.  She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and on the editorial board of the Journal of Public Policy, Local Government Studies and the International Review of Administrative Sciences.  

Her research explores the relationship between political management arrangements and policy outcomes.  Current projects investigate the devolution agenda including new arrangements to support Police and Crime Commissioners (with Vivien Lowndes) linked with ERC funded Understanding Institutional Change research; and the changing use of impact assessment and equality impact assessment (Leverhulme funded).  She is currently a member of the Local Government Association's 'Levelling up Locally Inquiry

Francesca also has a long term research agenda examining gender & policy making in the UK core executive and comparatively. She conducted research on 'Pathways to Politics', the routes to representation and barriers faced by under-represented groups for the Equality and Human Rights Commission and was a co-investigator on a ESRC Seminar Series considering Feminizing Politics.  In 2012 she was awarded the Best Paper in Comparative Policy at the 2011 American Political Science Association conference in Seattle for work examining when governments pay attention to gender equality demands (with collaborators Claire Annesley and Isabelle Engeli).

Previously she has worked on a number of government funded research projects including a five year evaluation of constitutional reform in English local government, the introduction of health scrutiny for the Centre for Public Scrutiny, as well as research for the Standards Board for England, the Lyons Inquiry into Local Government and the Roberts Commission on the Role of Councillors.  In 2008 she received the Herbert Kaufman Award for the Best Paper in Public Administration at the 2007 American Political Science Association Conference in Chicago for research examining bureaucratic policy preferences (with Peter John).  Earlier research examined the introduction of new political management arrangements in central government through the establishment of executive agencies.  

Research interests

Specific research interests:

  • Gender policy change 
  • Diversity and representation in policy making processes
  • Political management reform in central and local government
  • English devolution and introduction of police and crime commissioners
  • Impact assessment and the politics of regulation
  • Political management and policy outcomes
  • Comparative Public Policy


Current research projects:

Strengthening Participatory Decision Making in Greater Manchester (with Liz Richardson) an action research project following up on recommendations in the GM Independant Inequalitity Commission Report

Understanding Institutional Change from a Gendered Perspective: The work of Police and Crime Commissioners (with Vivien Lowndes) and linked to the ERC funded Understanding Institutional Change research programme at the University of Manchester

Previous Research

'Comparative development of gender policy agendas in five european countries' with Claire Annesley (Manchester) and Isabell Engeli (Ottowa), a three year project which draws on comparative agendas project data sets to examine the determinants of gender equality policy change.

Feminising Politics - (co-investigator) ESRC Seminar Series examing the political inclusion of women and the inclusion of their issues and perspectives

'Pathways to Politics' examining opportunities and barriers faced by those seeking election from underrepresented groups (see conducted September 2009 to June 2010 for the Equality and Human Rights Commission to feed into the policy debate surrounding the recommendations of the Speakers Conference (see

The Politics of Regulation - research examining what regulatory impact assessment data reveals about regulatory policy making in Government Departments (Leverhulme funded)

Evaluating Local Governance research - a five year evaluation of the constituitonal reforms introduced by the Local Government Act 2000 and associated research for  the Standards Board on the design of an ethical framework; for the Centre for Public Scrutiny on health scrutiny; for the Lyons Inquiry into Local Government and for the Roberts Councillors Commission into the role of local councillors.  

(see additional information for current and previous PhD supervisions)

Further information

Supervision areas:

Supervised to completion

  • Blanca Merino Casallo 'Investigating Politicians' Acting For and Against Gender Equality Policies'
  • Christopher Butler (SoSS funding) UK Governments & Public Opinion Policy Responsiveness
  • Anna Sanders (ESRC funded) The Impact of Gendered Policies on Women's Voting
  • Matthew Crow 'Social Enterprise in the British Political Tradition'
  • Anthony Chambers (ESRC funded) Do Immigrant Origin MPs represent Immigrant Origin Voters?
  • Ana Sanchez Santana (ORS funded) The Challenges of Regulatory Governance in Mexico
  • Jolanta Shields (ESRC and Presedential Doctoral Scholarship) 'Community Interest Companies in the NHS: A Trojan Horse for Marketisation?
  • Leah Culhane (ERC Understanding Institutional Change funded)  'Feminist Institutionalism and Gendered Political Change'
  • Rabi'ah Aminudin (Government funding) 'The Role of the National Women's Policy Agency in Malaysia'
  • Sara Kallock 'Liveability and the Framing of Sex Work'
  • Ceray Celan 'The Impact of Islamic Communities on Educational Policy Making in Turkey
  • Paul Hepburn (Englander Fellowship) 'Local Governance and the Local Online Networked Public Sphere';
  • Christina Easton (ESRC funded) 'The Representation of Women in the Transitional House of Lords';
  • Tessa Brannan (ESRC funded) 'Bounded Rationality in Best Practice Policy Learning around Community Engagement ';
  • Susanna Ghosh-Mitra 'Implementation of Water Privitisation Policies in India';
  • Catherine Durose (ESRC funded) 'From 'Street Level Bureaucrats' to 'Front Line Workers' 

Would welcome enquiries on any of the research areas listed under biography for example, comparative public policy, public policy analysis, political management, Labour politics and policy, gender and policy making, public policy impact assessment, devolution policy.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Digital Futures
  • Manchester Urban Institute
  • Policy@Manchester


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