Director, Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research
Professor of Sociology, Stanford University
The goal of my research is to identify and explain how various social psychological processes reproduce structures of gender inequality. In particular, I study how gendered expectations differentially shape the everyday experiences of men and women (or boys and girls) in achievement-oriented settings, such as school and work, and how these seemingly “small” inequalities are magnified through institutional environments in ways that contribute to reproducing or lessening more macro forms of gender inequality, such as the gender segregation of paid work or the wage penalty that mothers incur in the labor market. While focusing on different types of micro level experiences that produce a range of macro-level gender inequalities, all of my work addresses the fundamental question of how gender inequality persists even while other structural features of society change—a perspective that highlights the social psychological underpinnings of gender stratification.
My earlier work focused on the “supply side” of gender inequality, examining how gender beliefs impact emerging career aspirations and decisions of men and women. One paper in this area explored how gender stereotypes about mathematics differentially impact the extent to which men and women see themselves as mathematically competent, which impacts their persistence on paths leading to careers in science, math and engineering. My more recent work has expanded to include “demand side” discrimination processes, where I study how gender beliefs lead to subtle forms of discrimination against women by influencing how competent they are judged to be by evaluators such as supervisors, teachers, and those who make hiring decisions. I am also engaged in developing a more synthetic theoretical framework on the biasing effects of gender beliefs that can simultaneously explain supply side “choice” behaviors and demand side discrimination processes.
My most recent project on the motherhood penalty considers how stereotypic beliefs associated with motherhood impact the workplace evaluations and pay and hiring decisions of women when they give evidence of being a mother. This research has been covered by the media, including CNN, ABC World News Tonight, and The New York Times, and it has been referenced in employment discrimination cases, in the CA State Senate, and in documents written by the EEOC to offer guidance to employers on caregiver discrimination.
I teach classes in the sociology of gender, group processes, experimental sociology and the sociology of education. I also consult on how organizations can reduce gender biases in the workplace. [+]
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