Sylvia joined the Department of Geography and Environment in 1988 direct from a joint post in Geography and Latin American Studies at the University of Liverpool (1987-1988). A specialist in gender and development (GAD), Professor Chant has carried out research in Mexico, Costa Rica, the Philippines and The Gambia, has held visiting professorships in Spain and Switzerland, and has undertaken consultancies for a wide range of development organisations including UNDP, UN-DESA/UNDAW, ILO, UNICEF, UN-HABITAT, World Bank, ECLA and the Commonwealth Secretariat. She is currently serving as a member of the Expert Advisory Group for UN Women’s Progress of the World’s Women 2018. Families in a Changing World: Public Action for Women’s Rights.
In 2011 Sylvia was made a Fellow of the RSA in recognition of her expertise and exploration of gender issues within geographical development.
Alongside an extensive string of journal articles, her major publications include Women in the Third World: Gender Issues in Rural and Urban Areas (with Lynne Brydon) (Elgar, 1989, reprinted 1993), Women and Survival in Mexican Cities (Manchester University Press, 1991), Women of a Lesser Cost: Female Labour, Foreign Exchange and Philippine Development (with Cathy McIlwaine) (Pluto, 1995), Women-headed Households: Diversity and Dynamics in the Developing World (Macmillan, 1997, reprinted 1999), Three Generations, Two Genders, One World (with Cathy McIlwaine) (Zed, 1998), Mainstreaming Men in Gender and Development (with Matthew Gutmann) (Oxfam, 2000), and Gender in Latin America (with Nikki Craske) (Latin America Bureau, 2003). The latter book was published in Spanish as Género en Latinomérica in 2007, by Publicaciones de la Casa Chata, México DF. Other recent titles are Gender, Generation and Poverty: Exploring the 'Feminisation of Poverty' in Africa, Asia and Latin America (Elgar, 2007), and Geographies of Development in the 21st Century (with Cathy McIlwaine) (Elgar, 2009). Published in 2010 is The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty: Concepts, Research, Policy, a volume comprising over 100 chapters from 125 authors across the world edited by Sylvia Chant and published by Elgar. In preparation is Bringing Youth into Development, co-authored with Gareth Jones, Katherine Brickell and Sarah Thomas de Benítez, and to be published by Zed.
Sylvia's latest books include a 4 volume collection on Gender, Poverty and Development (Routledge, 2015), edited with former PhD student Dr Gwendolyn Beetham, and Cities, Slums and Gender in the Global South: Towards a Feminised Urban Future (co-authored with Professor Cathy McIlwaine, QMUL) (Routledge, 2016).
In 2016, Sylvia was made a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences following a process of peer review for the excellence and impact of her work. The Academy, which exists to promote social science in the United Kingdom for the public benefit, described Professor Chant as ‘a world-leading figure in international social science, helping to stake out the field of gender and development’.
Director of the MSc in Urbanisation and Development, Professor Chant's teaching focuses on urban poverty and gender, with a strong interest in comparative geographical perspectives.