Jeopardy! as a Research Site

by Thomas Linneman

I never planned on studying uptalk (when people use the upward inflection of a question? When they’re making declarative statements?). I was interested in it as a pet peeve, noticing a rise in uptalk among my students over the years, particularly women students. To my older man ears, this made them sound unsure of their oral presentations. But I figured the phenomenon of uptalk was under the purview of sociolinguists, so I let it remain just a peeve.
Linneman_blogimage2However, one day I was watching my favorite game show Jeopardy! and I noticed some interesting variation. While contestants are required to give their responses in the form of a question, most of them used a flat, declarative intonation when answering (Alex Trebek: “This is the best journal ever.” Contestant: “What is Gender & Society.”). Around a third of the time, though, contestants gave their responses using uptalk (“What is Gender & Society?”), and it was typically women contestants who did so. I simply couldn’t resist the impulse to study this variation. It turned out to be my favorite project of my career (thus far), and certainly the most successful in terms of popular interest (The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, Women’s Health, Wired, GQ, NPR, Jezebel, and…Fox News!). Yet as fun and interesting as this project was to conduct, I did encounter some challenges along the way. Continue reading

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Filed under Culture, Media & Communications

The Long Arm of the Law in Lesbian Families

by Jonniann Butterfield and Irene Padavic

This research was born of living in one of only a few states that explicitly prohibited “homosexual” adoption in 2010. In that hostile climate, I noticed a troubling pattern among friends in lesbian relationships: loving, equality-seeking couples became embattled once a child was introduced into the relationship. I wondered if the marked change I witnessed was specific to my circle of friends or if a broader pattern existed; this line of inquiry served as the basis of this study. In particular, we investigated the effects of legal restrictions on lesbian families’ prospects for creating egalitarian families. Continue reading

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Filed under Family, Law & Social Control, Sexualities

Who’s Working in “Women’s Interests”?: Understanding Legislatures as Gendered Organizations

by Catherine Bolzendahl

A good chunk of work, my own included, suggests that electing more women to legislature matters for policy outcomes. Mostly, we’ve argued that it’s because women care more about issues seen as being in “women’s interests,” either because women have been socialized to care more about these issues, they face these issues more directly in their day-to-day lives, and/or that others (constituents/coworkers) expect women to care more. No doubt these processes are at work, but these explanations aren’t fully satisfying. They tend to focus on individuals, reify gender stereotypes, and don’t really help us make sense of other findings, especially in the U.S., that women legislators may have fairly little impact on policy outcomes. Continue reading

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Filed under Comparative/Crossnational, Politics/State/Nationalism, Work & Organizations

#HeForShe, Domestic Violence, and Privileging Male Allies

by Kenneth Kolb
Cross-posted with permission from Girl W/ Pen!. To view the original piece, click here.


“Go Hermione!”

Kolb_image_1A young woman in my Sociological Theory class yelled those words as soon as she saw me pull up a clip of Emma Watson’s speech at the UN for the class to see. We were covering Charlotte Perkins Gilman that day, and I showed the video because I thought she articulated the core tenets of contemporary feminist theory pretty well. For ten minutes, my students sat in rapt attention as Watson explained how (1) gender inequality still exists, (2) gender binaries are socially constructed, and (3) masculinity isn’t healthy for men, either. Continue reading

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Filed under Masculinities, Violence

Queer Women and Street Harassment: A Complicated Issue

by Laura S. Logan
Photo from Stop Street Harassment. Used with permission (click here). (

Photo from Stop Street Harassment. Used with permission (click here). 

In the recent Atlantic article, “The Quiet Crisis Among Queer Women”, author Shannon Keating tells readers that despite clear personal benefits, queer women are not fairing well in the larger social world. Keating presents a cornucopia of statistical evidence – most from a portion of the 2014 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being survey – that indicates that queer women are not experiencing the same quality of life as gay men or straight men and women. There is a lot of information in this article but of particular interest to me – as an activist and scholar who focuses on violence against marginalized people and social movements – was the discussion about “community involvement, safety and security.” Continue reading

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Not Caring For Gender

by Catherine Conlon, Virpi Timonen, Gemma Carney and Thomas Scharf

Conlon_blogimage_October 2014The popular Irish refrain that a ‘woman’s work is never done’ is premised on the view that caring and femininity are two sides of the same coin. In Ireland, the family continues to be the primary source of care for children, older adults and people with disabilities, with (most) care provided by women. But not all women are equally involved in caring. While researching solidarity between generations in Ireland, we talked to 52 women aged 18 to 102 years and heard about important changes that women are initiating to the place of care in their lives. Having the perspectives of both older and younger women illuminated negotiations between family generations of women, driven by a concern among older women in particular to intervene in how caring constrains women’s lives. Renegotiating care in women’s lives amounts to ‘undoing gender’. However, women’s capacity to negotiate the place of care in their lives differed depending on the resources available to them and their families. Continue reading

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Filed under Aging/Life Course, Care Work, Family

Trans/Gender at Work: Addressing Inequality

by Kristen Schilt

Recently the New Republic featured a story about how the workplace experiences of transgender men and women can shed light on occupational gender equality more broadly. Jessica Nordell interviewed me for the article, and we talked extensively about the research I did for my first book, Just One of the Guys, that focuses on the work lives of transgender men in Texas and California. I argue in the book that trans men can develop what Patricia Hill Collins calls an “outsider-within” perspective from the unique experience of having worked on both sides of the gender binary. This experience can put into high relief the often-invisible social processes that produce and maintain a workplace gender gap. As many of the men I interviewed noted, bringing their appearances in line with their feeling of maleness could bring a noticeable change in their workplace treatment – a change that one man described as going from “bossy” to “take charge.” However, white and heterosexual trans men reported more positive changes in their treatment from co-workers and employers than trans men of color and gay trans men. Continue reading

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