RHEA evolved out of the Centrum voor Vrouwenstudies (Center for Women’s Studies), which was established at VUB in 1987 as the first academic centre for women’s studies in Flanders and only later renamed as RHEA. The center was the initiative of a number of engaged female academic staff members who aimed to stimulate research on gender inequalities and the position of women in society. Prof. em. Lydia De Pauw-Deveen was its first director. She was followed up by prof. em. Machteld De Metsenaere and prof. em. Alison Woodward.
RHEA was relaunched as research centre on Gender, Diversity and Intersectionality in 2014. By integrating intersectionality in its name and working, RHEA centralizes the importance of understanding gender inequalities always in interaction with other categories of differentiation based on ethnicity, sexuality, religion, class, ability and age. Intersectionality has therefore been integrated as a central theoretical framework in our research, education and activities.