My research examines gender deviance and conformity in three institutional contexts: work, law, and sport. I explore how gender norms are constructed and policed within the workplace, sports, and the legal system, with a particular emphasis on women's participation in gendered institutions during adolescence and young adulthood.
Gender & Work:
While it is becoming increasingly normative for women to work in full time jobs, expectations about the types of work that women (and men) should pursue and find meaningful persist. In a recent first-authored article in the American Sociological Review (August 2012), Christopher Uggen, Amy Blackstone, and I find that women in authority positions were more likely to experience sexual harassment than their non-supervisor counterparts. Interviews with survey respondents suggest that some men use harassment as an "equalizer" against women in power, consistent with research showing that sexual harassment is less about sexual desire than about control and domination. In addition to this study, our ongoing mixed-methods research examines the consequences of sexual harassment for women's careers. Our results show that targets of harassment are more likely to experience job change and financial stress, and report slower earnings growth than women who do not experience sexual harassment. Findings from this study were presented at annual meetings of the Law & Society Association and American Sociological Association, and a manuscript is currently under review at a leading specialty journal (Revise & Resubmit).
My research within the sociology of work also focuses on attainment. In addition to my dissertation (discussed below), my research with Jeylan Mortimer and Teresa Swartz explores how parental financial and housing supports affect young adult earnings. While parental support during times of increased need may help young adults to recover from an unexpected event, such as unemployment or the loss of a partner, support in the absence of need may actually delay the search for full-time work. In this paper, forthcoming in The Sociological Quarterly, we we test these competing hypotheses, exploring whether the context of help matters for young adult attainment.
Law, Crime & Deviance:
I approach my research on gender with a deviance lens, exploring how gender conformity and deviance are socially constructed and policed. Much of my work examines intersections between gender, law, and other institutions (e.g., sport and work). In particular, I am interested in workplace civil rights violations, such as sexual harassment and discrimination, and the role of law in deterring or permitting workplace abuse. My work on gender and sport (discussed below) also involves analyses of how Title IX and other relevant legal doctrine affect girls’ and women’s participation, and acceptance, in sport contexts. Lastly, my work in this area also examines how individuals’ roles in other institutions (e.g., worker or inmate) affect how they understand law and participate in legal processes. For example, my Law & Society article (2009), published with Christopher Uggen and Amy Blackstone, examines the role of legal consciousness in defining, labeling, and responding to sexual harassment. We argue that legal consciousness is necessary for individuals to mobilize in response to harassing behaviors, and show that workers are targeted for harassment, at least in part, because they are unlikely to report the harassment to a supervisor or government authority. In a separate first-authored manuscript (in progress), we also explore employees’ responses to workplace training and policies on sexual harassment, showing the significance of organizational culture in shaping individuals’ understanding of, and reaction to, harassment.
In addition to sexual harassment, my ongoing work with Christopher Uggen and Jessica Molina explores the mental health consequences of gender and race discrimination, as well as the relationship between discrimination, strain, and violent behavior. In a first-authored paper, we use hierarchical linear modeling to show the deleterious effect of workplace discrimination on self-efficacy. Early results from this research were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology.
Gender & Sport:
Lastly, my research also explores sport as a site of gender transgression. My dissertation, Playing Like a Boy: Gender, High School Sport Participation, and Early Career Success, linked youth experiences across gendered institutions, exploring how high school sport participation is associated with young adults' labor force participation, occupational segregation, earnings, and workplace power and authority. While a number of researchers have examined the link between sport participation and educational attainment, few studies consider whether benefits of sport extend beyond the high school or college years to structure career trajectories and attainment. Moreover, studies that have explored this relationship tend to be cross-sectional, measuring both sport participation and outcomes at a single point in time. This design ignores work trajectories and fails to consider whether sport participation has either short- or long-term consequences.
Drawing from a mixed method research design that combines longitudinal survey data from the Youth Development Study (YDS) with in-depth interviews, my dissertation provides a gendered account of sport participation and attainment. I find that sport participation increases labor force participation and earnings for both men and women, and that women who participated in contact sports during high school work in industries with a higher percentage of men than women who did not participate in contact sports. My findings have been presented at the winter meeting of the Sociologists for Women in Society, the Department of Sociology Colloquium Series at the University of Maine, the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, and the International Sociological Association World Congress of Sociology.