Middle Eastern women have long been a subject of great fascination to outsiders. The veiled and oppressed Middle Eastern woman, the victim of a misogynist religion, has been one of the most enduring images of the region in the minds of the general public. Travelers, missionaries, colonial administrators, and diplomats who have spent time in the region have often perpetuated the accepted image. So too have scholars steeped in the Orientalist tradition. Over the past twenty years, however, the study of Middle Eastern women has claimed the attention of scholars who have questioned the traditional wisdom. Inspired by the great progress in women's studies outside the Middle East, these scholars have produced a plethora of works on women and gender in the region. Impressionistically we would guess that more has been written on women and gender in the past twenty years than on any other subject in Middle Eastern studies; since the early 1990s the program of the Middle East Studies Association annual meeting has included numerous panels on this topic. Using new theoretical frameworks, innovative methodological approaches, and nontraditional sources, scholars have made great progress in shedding light on complex and controversial issues, amid the challenges of an environment in which the "woman question" remains a highly charged political and cultural issue.