Sex and gender are core dimensions of just about all social phenomena. My own research has highlighted the gender-specific aspects of large-scale political transformation, and I have focused on both pre-modern and contemporary societies. The changing historical formations of masculinity are especially interesting to me, in part because they remain a relatively understudied and ill-understood area of social structure and social psychology. I also teach and write on the relationship between gender as a conceptual lens and social theory.
My research and teaching interests are in gender, markets, medicine, and genetics. I recently completed a book manuscript, Sex Cells: The Medical Market in Eggs and Sperm, which compares how reproductive cells, and the women and men who donate them, are culturally and economically valued. Currently, I am interviewing genetic counselors for a new research project on genetic testing. I am also beginning a survey research project on women's experiences of in vitro fertilization. In the past, I have collaborated on research about media depictions of obesity science and abortion training in obstetrics/gynecology residency programs.
Since my dissertation I have placed questions about variation and inequalities by generation and gender at the core of my research. Initially gender functioned primarily as a control variable, but over time it has became a pivot for construction of meaning and explaining larger societal cleavages. Similarly issues of gender equity have been central to me as an administrator and currently guide me in my work as co-chair of Yale's Women Faculty Forum.
The behaviors in which adolescents engage while partaking in romantic and sexual relationships have consequences that reverberate throughout the life course, especially for the poor and socially vulnerable. My research documents the changing sexual behaviors of young people and probes determinants of risky behaviors, paying specific attention to the role of family, school, and neighborhood in shaping adolescent sexual decision-making in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. My work applies quantitative methods to secondary data with a particular focus on large-scale, longitudinal panel data.
My research focuses on the role that educational attainment plays in producing or shaping inequality both within and across generations. These questions are particularly interesting as they relate to women’s schooling. Increases in women’s schooling represent one of the most fundamental and wide-reaching socioeconomic changes of recent decades. In both developing and developed countries, policy makers promote increases in women’s schooling as a way to improve the lives of women and children and upgrade the educational distribution of future generations. I examine the connections between women’s education and demographic processes such as marriage, fertility, and mortality and study the intergenerational effects of increasing women’s schooling. I combine traditional approaches to social mobility research with formal demographic approaches for population projection and show how intergenerational effects of increasing women’s schooling differ across cohorts, countries, and race/ethnic groups. More broadly, I am also interested in gender and schooling both within and across cohorts and gender and health.