Gender, Work, & Embodiment

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Are you looking for more information about gender embodiment and performance in the workplace?

Take a look at this new teaching module from the Gender & Society Pedagogy Project on Gender, Work, & Embodiment! If you want your students to understand how sociologists have come to understand how workers embody and perform gender strategically in the workplace, this module may be a welcome addition to your class. The teaching module includes relevant academic readings, digital media resources, and two class activities.

This module is intended for use in general undergraduate sociology courses and courses explicitly focusing on the sociology of gender. It utilizes readings from two different articles published in Gender & Society, “Plastic Bodies: Women Workers and Emerging Body Rules in Service Work in Urban India” (by Dr. Asiya Islam) and “A Patchwork of Femininities: Working-Class Women’s Fluctuating Gender Performances in a Pakistani Market” (by Dr. Sidra Kamran).

The authors of this teaching module are member of the Gender & Society Junior Scholar Advisory Board, Sepideh Borzoo and Chetna khandelwal. Sepideh and Chetna are Ph.D. students in sociology at the University of Calgary.


HOw Does Race, Gender, and Sexuality Shape the Murder of Transgender People in the United States?

By: Laurel Westbrook

Many people believe that transphobia is the only cause of violence experienced by transgender people. If that was true, all transgender people would be at equal risk of experiencing violence at all times. However, there are actually distinct patterns in this violence related to gender, race, and sexuality. These social systems interact in ways that increase the risk of violence for certain transgender people, while decreasing it for others. Identifying these patterns is vital to developing effective policies and practices to prevent it.

Until recently, violence against transgender people was extremely understudied, reducing our ability to effectively recognize factors shaping this violence. To address part of this knowledge gap, I used an innovative method to create an original dataset of all the known murders of transgender people in the United States during the 30-year period between 1990 and 2019. The first of its kind, this dataset is comprised of information gathered from activist, mainstream news, and government sources.

As I detail in my recent article in Gender & Society, transphobia, both from individuals and built into social institutions, increases violence against transgender people. However, transphobia is not the only form of gender inequality shaping this violence. The gender system also generates a substantial homicide gap between transgender women and men, as transgender women are much more likely to be murdered than transgender men. At least 508 transgender people were murdered between 1990 and 2019 in the United States. Of those, 494 (97%) were transgender women and 14 (3%) were trans men.

Moreover, my dataset reveals that not all transgender women are equally at risk. Transgender women of color are killed considerably more often than white transgender women. Although white people comprised 69 percent of the U.S. population between 1990 and 2019, just 13 percent of murdered trans women were white. By contrast, 66 percent of transfeminine homicide victims were Black, despite Black people being just 13 percent of the general population.

Looking at relationships between perpetrators and victims points to factors that may influence high levels of gender and racial inequality in risk for lethal violence among transgender people. Relationships between perpetrators and victims in transgender homicides are diverse, ranging from strangers and friends to family members and sexual partners. However, sexual interactions are the most common situation in which these homicides occur. It is important to note that Black and white trans women are killed in remarkably different types of sexual interactions. Whereas Black trans women are more likely to be killed while exchanging sex for money, white trans women are more likely to be killed in non-monetary sexual relationships.

This knowledge is vital because if we want to prevent violence, we must first understand patterns of that violence. I strongly believe that studies of violence against transgender people should aim to improve anti-violence policies. As my analysis demonstrates, participation in sex work is linked to murders of transgender women. Thus, decreasing violence against sex workers should be a priority. Studies show that legalization of prostitution greatly reduces violence against women who sell sex.

Homicide scholarship finds that living in poverty greatly increases one’s risk of being murdered. Therefore, those working to reduce violence against transgender people must address the factors that trap transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, in poverty. Family rejection and discrimination in education and employment due to transphobia greatly increases the chances that transgender people will be poor. This is exacerbated for trans people of color, who also face individual and institutional racism. Finally, trans women experience both sexism and transmisogyny—a bias rooted in both hatred of feminine people and trans people. All of these must be addressed to reduce violence against trans people.

Fortunately, recent research points to avenues for reducing transphobic beliefs, including webinars and other educational programs involving guided activities asking cisgender people to take a transgender person’s perspective and interpersonal contact with a transgender person or a cisgender LGB person. These relatively short strategies (ranging from only 10 minutes to an hour) can easily be implemented in business places, schools, government agencies, churches, and parenting classes. Such programs are a vital part of reducing violence against transgender people, as are ongoing efforts to reduce racial and gender inequality. Rather than ignore how intersecting social structures shape violence against transgender people, we must utilize our growing knowledge about this violence and ways to reduce it to implement effective anti-violence programs.

Laurel Westbrook is a Professor of Sociology at Grand Valley State University. Their research focuses on gender, sexuality, race, violence, and social movements. They are the author of the award-winning book Unlivable Lives: Violence and Identity in Transgender Activism. Their scholarship has also been published in Social Problems, Sexualities, and Sociology Compass, among other journals. They are co-founder and former co-chair of Sociologists for Trans Justice.

How Do People Come To Claim New Gender Identities?

By Sonny Nordmarken

Have you ever wondered how people come to claim new gender identities? For my recent Gender & Society article, I interviewed 75 people who identified as trans, nonbinary, genderqueer, gender-fluid, gender nonconforming, or agender, among other labels, and I asked them how they came to identify with the terms that they used. I conducted these interviews between 2011 and 2020, and almost all participants were in four regions of the U.S.: the west, southwest, south, and northeast. Almost all of them shared stories about how and when they came to claim their current identities. I call the identity-formation process they experienced “coming into identity.”

Almost all interviewees came into their identities through a process of self-reflection in relation to one or more of four kinds of experiences: exposure to gender minorities and/or new ideas about gender, gender experimentation, emotionally difficult experiences, and conversations with others.

Being exposed to gender diversity through meeting gender minorities or otherwise learning about them by reading books, magazines, the Internet, especially social media, or other media prompted more than half of interviewees to reflect on themselves. Exposure to ideas that gender can change and new vocabulary for gender diverse identities were key in helping interviewees to conceptualize gender beyond binary categories. Seeing or learning about people who demonstrated how it was possible to be a gender diverse person and learning how those individuals came into their identities also enabled interviewees to see themselves in new ways.

According to my data, exposure to gender diversity has become more accessible over time: less than half of people interviewed before 2014 and most interviewed after 2014 discussed exposure in their coming-into-identity stories. However, access to information and models has been unequal. Black interviewees were less likely than those in other racial groups to discuss exposure in their stories, and they were more likely to learn about gender diversity by seeking out rather than happening to come across information or models. Additionally, membership in a sexual minority community likely increased access to exposure to gender diversity.

Experimenting with gender, by wearing clothes or a hairstyle associated with another gender or trying out new names or gender pronouns to see if they felt right, was part of nearly half of interviewees’ coming-into-identity experiences. Trying out pronouns, identity labels, or names were common ways they attempted to “figure out” their identities. Although interviewees talked about how clothing experimentation was important in their coming-into-identity process, it was not necessarily a concerted attempt to figure out identity.

More than a third of interviewees came into their identities while reflecting on an emotionally difficult period or event. Through processing these difficult experiences, such as depression, mid-life reckoning, or marginalizing social interactions, they came to realize that their gender was an important part of what they were struggling with. Self-reflection enabled them to experience shifts in both self-awareness and well-being as they came to identify as another gender. Emotionally difficult experiences leading to identity-realizations increased over the last three decades.

Finally, talking with supportive others helped more than a quarter of interviewees to come into their gender identities. These interviewees talked to therapists, friends, family members, or new acquaintances. Some of their conversation partners nonjudgmentally encouraged interviewees to reflect on themselves, while others simply served as willing audiences for interviewees to talk about and think through their identities. Coming into identity through talking with others increased over the last three decades.

Despite sharing rich stories about how they came into their identities, most of the people I interviewed also felt a consistent gendered sense of self over the course of their lives. However, lifelong gender identification claims have diminished over time. While all or almost all participants who came into their identities in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s experienced childhood gender difference, just over half of those who did in the 2000s and 2010s did. Additionally, most participants who came into their identities in the 1970s and 1980s claimed to have “always been this way” while fewer than half of those who came into identities in the 1990s and 2010s did. And the portion of participants who described being in “the wrong body” decreased from about a fourth of those who came into identities in the 1970s and 1980s to 6% among those who did in the 2000s and 2010s. 

This research shows how identity is a social process that involves coming to understand oneself through exposure to ideas, interaction with others, and self-reflection. Coming-into-identity stories challenge the assumption that the gender identities of all individuals’—including people currently identified as cisgender—will not change in the future. This research also demonstrates our tremendous capacity to experience, understand, and be ourselves in ways that exceed expectations, including our own.

Sonny Nordmarken is an assistant professor of sociology at Georgia State University. His research explores power, inequality, and resistance in the lives of gender minorities. He is currently at work on a book about gender minorities’ experiences of everyday resistance. You can find him on Twitter @SNordmarken

Reporting Experiences of Violence to the Police

By Marta Ascherio

In 2019, I travelled weekly from Austin, Texas, to the Lockhart Correctional Facility for Women about 40 miles south of the city. Through the Texas Prison Education Initiative (TPEI), I had the opportunity to teach college-level Introduction to Sociology to incarcerated students. 

One day during class I asked whether any of the students had ever called the police. The students, understandably, remained completely silent. I then asked whether anyone had ever called the police on them, and they burst out laughing, exclaiming, “Of course! How else do you think we would have ended up here!?” The students then started sharing stories in which they were perpetrators of violence, but also stories in which they were stalked,  threatened, and assaulted. To protect themselves from perpetrators, they recounted numerous strategies that included locking doors, hiding, and moving to a different town. The students that did eventually call the police, did so because their children’s safety was at risk.

By listening to their stories, I started to think about the presence of children as something consequential when it came to the decision to call the police.

When and under what circumstances does family structure shape crime reporting? Might this be different for men and women? To find out more, in my recent Gender & Society article I relied on a survey administered yearly by the U.S. Census Bureau: the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The NCVS was launched in 1972, but in this survey I use responses from 2002-2019. During this time period, more than 50,000 people disclosed incidents of violence to interviewers. These incidents include sexual assault, rape, robbery, simple assault, and aggravated assault. In aggregate, about half these incidents were reported to the police, and half were not.

An analysis of these reveal that White women and Latinas are more likely than men to report violence to the police if they have children living in the home. Black women, however, are more likely than Black men to report violence to the police whether or not they have children. Household income and relationship to perpetrator further shape these associations, the most telling of which is that Latinas are no more likely than Latinos to report violence to the police when they know the perpetrator.

These diverging choices are interesting in the context of the increasing awareness of police violence against communities of color. 911 calls for service may end with the caller, callers children, family members, or neighbors being harmed or even killed by the police. Thus, there are important reasons not to call the police. What emerges from these data is that mothers must navigate a thin line between protecting themselves from violence (by calling the police), and protecting their families from criminalization (by not calling the police).

Why do mothers report violence at significantly higher rates than fathers, when there are little or no gender difference in crime reporting among people without children? One way to understand this is in the context of gender inequality in child care. Despite women’s advances in politics and in the workplace, there are persistent cultural and structural expectations that women care for children. Thus, perhaps mothers report violence at high rates to protect their children from witnessing violence, but also to protect themselves as primary caretakers: If she doesn’t take care of her children, who will?

Black women in this study, however, consistently report more than Black men regardless of whether they have children in the home. While further investigation is needed to understand specifically why we see this pattern, we know that Black women are more likely than White women to supervise, care for, and advise children that are not biologically their own. Therefore the role of “mother” is more likely shared across Black women in communities whether or not they have children of their own.

Finally, the data also shows that Latina women refrain from calling the police when the perpetrator is an acquaintance, a family member, or romantic partner/ex-partner. Thus, when Latina women know the perpetrator, they more frequently opt to protect them from police surveillance, rather than to protect themselves from violence. Immigration scholars refer to Latinos’ retreat from institutions as the “chilling effects” of punitive immigration policies that spillover to have consequences even for U.S. born Latinos who should not be subject to immigration law.

Taken together, these decisions to report or not report violence to the police sheds light on how multiple social positions intersect to shape inequality. Although gender inequality exists across racial and ethnic groups and across socioeconomic strata, women’s vulnerability is exacerbated by a social system that imposes primary childcare responsibilities on women. What becomes clear from these data is that when women with children experience violence, calling the police may be their only option to maintain their own physical safety and that of their children.

Marta Ascherio is an Assistant Professor in Criminal Justice Sciences and Latin American and Latino Studies at Illinois State University.

Police (In)Actions and Violence Against Indigenous Women in “Canada”

By Andrea Román Alfaro and Jerry Flores

Tamara Lynn Chipman from Moricetown First Nation was 22 when she disappeared in September 2005 along Highway 16 near Prince Rupert in British Columbia, Canada. Immediately after her disappearance, volunteers from her community organized a search. However, almost two decades later, there is still no trace of her. Like Tamara, young Indigenous women have disappeared or been found dead on Highway 16, commonly known as The Highway of Tears, for a long time. Tamara’s disappearance sowed despair in her family and community and exacerbated ongoing tensions between Indigenous peoples and criminal justice institutions.

In Canada, Indigenous women are 400 percent more likely than other Canadians to go missing (Feir & Akee, 2019). This number is comparable to refugees fleeing war-torn countries like Syria, Guatemala and Libya (Zong & Batalova, 2015). The problem is so pervasive that the Canadian government has admitted they do not know how many Indigenous women are missing or have been murdered.

For decades, Indigenous communities and organizations, with the support of human rights groups, have mobilized to hold the Canadian state accountable for its failure to address the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls’ crisis. Finally, in December 2015, the Trudeau government announced the launch of an independent national inquiry which collected hundreds of testimonies of relatives, survivors, Elders and Knowledge Keepers, expert witnesses, officials, and front-line workers. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls published a two-volume report that described the problem of violence against Indigenous women and girls and provided recommendations to address violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

Although the National Inquiry’s work was welcomed by a more progressive sector of Canadian settler society, the report did not sit well among certain groups, mainly because it called violence against Indigenous women and girls a genocide. The reticence of public officials, media outlets, and settlers to understand violence against Indigenous women and girls as a systemic problem rooted in colonization made clear the racist and gender violence that sustains the Canadian settler colonial state. Many critics of the Inquiry’s report argued that the disappearances and murders resulted from Indigenous men’s violence and the risky behaviours of Indigenous women. These explanations for violence against Indigenous women and girls are not unique or new.

In our recent Gender & Society article, Building the settler-colonial order: Police (in)action in responding to violence against Indigenous women in “Canada,” we found that Canadian police repeatedly use similar descriptions and explanations when addressing reported cases of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Drawing from 48 interviews with Indigenous peoples in different Canadian cities and 219 testimonies from the National Inquiry, we found that police portrayed Indigenous women and girls as “runaways,” “drunks,” “drug addicts,” and “prostitutes” to make sense of and explain the violence being reported by Indigenous women and the relatives and friends looking for their loved ones. Furthermore, police were indifferent and callous to these reports, giving little to no information on the cases. Many times, relatives did not know cases had been closed or reopened, nor had any lead on what had happened to their disappeared or murdered loved one. Finally, we also found a pattern in how police dismissed and justified violence. Officers repeatedly pathologized Indigenous women and girls and gave up quickly in the search for bodies or culprits. These police responses are so repetitive that they seem like police scripts across Canada.

We argued that police (in)actions—what they say and do not say to others and what they do and do not do when responding to the cases—reproduce violence against Indigenous peoples, particularly affecting the continuity of Indigenous communities and cultures. Violence against Indigenous women and girls like Tamara Lynn Chipman (22), Abigail Andrews (28), Chantelle Alice Rose Bushie (16), Delores Brown (19), Violet Heathen (49), Tina Michelle Fontaine (15), Simone Samarah Ann Sanderson (23), Tabitha Kalluk (38), and many more have severe consequences for Indigenous families and communities. Indigenous women have always been vital in Indigenous nations’ cultural and material survival. Their disappearance and murder limit intergenerational survival and dismantles family and community structures. Our study seeks to contribute to understanding how violence against Indigenous women and girls is perpetuated and the implications it has in sustaining colonialism in “Canada.”

Andrea Román-Alfaro is a Peruvian Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Toronto and a Vanier Canada scholar. Her research focuses on understanding how people make sense of violence and the social structures that facilitate violence. Her areas of interest include violence and society, punishment, criminalization, and healing. Her work has appeared in journals such as Social Justice and Curriculum Inquiry. She is currently working on her dissertation research on the dynamics and politics of violence in Peru.

Jerry Flores is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga and Sociology tri-campus graduate department at the University of Toronto-St. George. He received a Ph.D. in Sociology at UC Santa Barbara in 2014. His interdisciplinary research investigates how institutions like schools, detention centers and the police come together to shape the lives of at-risk Latinas and Indigenous women and girls in North America.


By Michelle Gomez Parra and Dr. Lorena Garcia

Many of us in higher education have taken notice of the shifts in student demographics, including the rising number of Latinas enrolled in 4-year institutions. For students from poor and working-class backgrounds, college is a vital route to obtain socio-economical mobility. In addition to that central reason why Latinas attend college, other social forces also shape their desire to do this—and, more particularly, their decision to move outside of their families’ homes to pursue higher education.

We explore this in our recent article in Gender & Society. Our research indicates that while economically marginalized Latinas perceive college as an opportunity to achieve upward mobility, they also see it as a way to secure gender and sexual freedom. For example, many of the Latinas we interviewed listed various household responsibilities assigned to them, such as cooking, cleaning, and helping take care of younger siblings when they are at home. They viewed going away to college as an opportunity to free themselves of the responsibility expected of them for this kind of labor in their family households.

The Latinas we spoke with also reported having little discretion over their social lives and spatial mobility when living at home. Their parents often limited where they could go outside the home and who they could socialize with. Our respondents were frustrated with what they saw as unfair treatment because of their gender. They approached moving out of their parents’ home to attend college as a strategy to gain discretion over their social lives and to have freedom over their whereabouts. They talked in depth about the new pleasures they experienced as college students living away from their parents’ home, such as having an opportunity to move beyond the gendered parental rules as well having less gendered family responsibilities. Our research, thus, shows that Latinas’ desire for gender and sexual freedom are factors motivating Latinas’ desire to move away from their parents’ homes to attend college.

Latinas were also well aware of the “teen mom” stereotype which frames Latinas as highly susceptible to becoming young mothers. This stereotype also portrays early motherhood as detrimental to Latinas’ ability to obtain upward mobility. Therefore, the women in our research viewed going to college and obtaining their degrees as a way to refute negative stereotypes about Latinas’ sexualities.

In addition to having discretion over their time and social lives, including where they went, we find that college facilitated gender and sexual freedom for Latinas in another important way. Once in college, Latinas encountered sex-positive discourses that challenged their previously held ideas of sex as dangerous and always leading to unplanned teenage pregnancy. Moreover, they also deepened their understanding of gender inequality and how this impacted their lives as girls and young women. Their exposure to new ideas about gender and sexuality, often through  coursework, informed their life choices around gender and sexuality. They desired not only to  end their socioeconomic marginalization but also to have autonomy over their social activities and spatial mobility and be free from inegalitarian gender and sexual ideologies.

Overall, our research shows that constraints based on gender and sexuality lead Latinas to seek both upward and spatial mobility via college. Once in college, they are exposed to new ideas that continue to shape their gender and sexual choices. Our study encourages researchers and educators to consider how the intersections of gender, sexual, and racial inequalities shape the educational aspirations of girls and women. Our work also encourages educators to consider how educational curricula have implications for students’ gender and sexual ideologies. We show that  access to sex-positive discourses and feminist critiques of gender inequality is liberating for Latinas, as they use this information to advocate for their gender and sexual pleasures, and overall livelihoods.

Michelle Gomez Parra is a PhD candidate in the Sociology Department at UC Santa Cruz with a designated emphasis in Latin American and Latinx Studies. She utilizes feminist theories of color, such as intersectionality and transnational feminism, to examine how mobility experiences of higher education and migration intersect with heteronormativity to impact Latinas’ negotiations of gender and sexuality.

Lorena Garcia is an associate professor of sociology and Latin American and Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she also has a courtesy appointment in gender and women’s studies. Her research interests include the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and class, U.S. Latinas, and youth. She is currently working on her second book project which focuses on newly middle-class Latina/x/os’ parenting perspectives and practices.


(photo by Avishai Teicher, Sculpture of Mother and a Child, in the Gan Ha’Em “Mother’s Garden” in Haifa, Israel).

By Michelle J. Budig, Vered Kraus, and Asaf Levanon

Across developed countries, women are more educated, more frequently employed, and receive higher wages than at any point in history. Yet, combining work and family responsibilities remains challenging for most women. Mothers are more likely to work part-time or not at all, relative to childless women and men. Moreover, a wage gap widens for mothers with each child they have, holding all else constant. Some countries reduce work-family conflict through supportive work-family policies such as generous parental leave, subsidized childcare, and family allowances. Despite this, in most developed countries, many women feel forced to choose between work and family priorities, which, in addition to reduced employment and wages, contribute to high and rising rates of childlessness, delayed fertility, and smaller than desired family sizes.

In our recent Gender & Society article, we examine employment and pay outcomes for mothers in a country where, at the aggregate level, women “have it all.” Israel presents a unique context for studying motherhood’s impacts on employment and earnings: it is characterized both by high fertility and marriage rates and by high rates of women’s education and employment. Compellingly, past research finds small motherhood penalties in Israel. Yet, Israel is also marked by strong disparities among ethnic and religious groups, and differences in motherhood penalties among groups have been unexplored. Ours is the first study that uses longitudinal data to examine motherhoods’ employment and wage penalties among different groups within Israel. Given substantial social and economic inequality between Israeli Jews and Israeli-Palestinians, we explore whether the overall finding of few motherhood penalties among all women in Israel remains true when we examine Jewish, Muslim, and Christian women separately. Importantly, we examine whether motherhood penalties are reduced in the public sector, with its stronger anti-discrimination policy and work-family policy enforcement. Further, we consider whether differences across the public and private sector employment shapes differences in motherhood penalties across ethnic and religious groups.

First, a bit of context: The Israeli population is diverse with sharp socioeconomic cleavages. It is comprised of Jews (75 percent), Muslims (20 percent), Christians (2 percent) and other minorities. Of these, Jews are the most socioeconomically privileged group and Muslims are the least privileged. High levels of ethno-religious segregation in where people live, where they work, and the occupations they hold contribute to significant inequalities in educational attainment, employment rates, earnings, and economic opportunity. Residential segregation shapes disparities in the-quality of schooling and educational attainment across communities. Access to social services, public transportation, and public and private sector work are all more constrained in ethnic and religious minority communities. In addition, family formation patterns differ among these groups, with later marriage and age at first birth among Jews, compared to Muslims and Christians, although Jewish and Muslim women have similarly high completed family sizes. Together, these conditions underpin dramatic differences in educational attainment and employment among ethnic and religious groups, with Jewish women being highly educated, highly engaged in the labor force and commanding the highest pay, followed by Christians and, quite distantly, Muslims on all measures.

Using newly available panel data we find that motherhood deters employment more strongly among Israeli-Palestinians than among Jews. Following a birth, Jewish women return to employment at higher rates and more quickly, with almost 70 percent being employed within 9 months of giving birth. This is robust among all Jewish women, regardless of educational attainment. Christian and Muslim women with post-secondary education are employed at similar rates to Jewish women following a birth. However, Christians, and especially Muslims with moderate and low educational attainment have longer periods of non-employment following a birth, and among the least educated, one-third of Muslim mothers remain non-employed at 2.5 years post-birth. These patterns reflect the impact of both structural and cultural factors: Muslims are more likely to live in remote communities with fewer job opportunities, poor public transportation, and little accessible childcare. These challenges are amplified by cultural norms encouraging direct care of mothers for children, which is more common for women with lower educational attainment.

Considering the motherhood wage penalty, we find penalties for each child among the least educated women in all groups. Among the least educated, the length of labor market absence following a birth and job experience are strong contributors to motherhood penalties, variously accounting for 24 to 53 percent of baseline penalties among groups. These penalties decline as education increases. At the medium level of education, we observe motherhood wage penalties for Jewish and Christian women, but not among Muslims. For all groups, highly-educated women incur smaller motherhood wage penalties, and in some cases receive motherhood wage premiums. Particularly among Muslims, children are associated with wage premiums among the highly educated. We explore this surprising finding by examining the characteristics of their labor force participation.

Muslim women who meet all three criteria – highly educated, employed, and mothers – are relatively rare, compared to Jewish women. To illustrate, employment rates of mothers at 18 months post-birth are, 47 percent for Muslims, compared to 84 percent of Jews. Of the employed, 36 percent of Muslims have a college degree, compared to 51 percent of Jews. This select group of employed, highly educated Muslim mothers are strongly segregated: fully 88 percent of highly educated Muslim mothers are in the public sector, compared with 49 percent of their Jewish counterparts. The majority of Muslim mothers in this category are teachers (63 percent) compared to Jewish mothers (26 percent). In Israel, teachers are covered by a strong collective bargaining agreement that offers higher pay to women with children. This enhancement of maternal earnings may contribute to the findings of wage bonuses for motherhood for highly educated Muslim mothers. In addition, the Israeli public sector is characterized by stronger enforcement of anti-discrimination and work-family policies. It is not surprising, then that public-sector employment, particularly for Muslims, is associated with higher post birth employment, lower motherhood penalties, and motherhood premiums among the highly educated. Our findings suggest that increasing educational attainment and public sector employment among Israeli-Palestinians may reduce inequality across religious and ethnic groups in terms of motherhood’s impact on employment and earnings.

Our findings are highly relevant to policy addressing gender and ethnic inequality. Because vulnerable workers – minorities and the least educated – incur the highest economic costs for childbearing, efforts to increase educational attainment are crucial in reducing mothers’ employment inequalities, particularly for Muslims and Christians. In addition, our study underscores the importance of public-sector employment in supporting Israeli-Palestinian mothers’ employment and pay, with its stronger employment protections and support for combining work and family.

Michelle J. Budig is a professor of sociology and senior vice provost at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research has focused on labor market inequalities, wage penalties for paid and unpaid caregiving, work–family policy, and nonstandard employment. Her research has appeared in American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Social Problems, Journal of Marriage and the Family, and numerous other professional journals.

Vered Kraus was an Emerita professor of sociology at the University of Haifa, Israel. Her work focused on social stratification and inequality, especially gender and ethnic inequality in the labor market. She published several books and articles, including Facing Barriers: Palestinian Women in a Jewish-Dominated Labor Market, Promises in the Promised Land: Mobility and Inequality in Israel, and Secondary Breadwinners: Israeli Women in the Labor Market.

Asaf Levanon is a senior lecturer in the department of sociology and the head of the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Poverty and Social Exclusion at the University of Haifa. Building on social stratification research and life course scholarship, his work examines how institutions affect life-course outcomes. His work has appeared in American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Sociological Methods and Research, Social Science Research, and other professional journals.


By Dr. Shaneda Destine

Tyree Nichols was stopped, beaten, and killed by Memphis police officers on January 7th– 2023, 6 hours from my home. However, Tyree Nichols is more than just a headline and a police victim, he was a father, a son, an aspiring photographer with a big smile. He was 100 yards from his mother’s house when he lost his life. Though Tyree’s death is as horrific as any other death by police officers, Memphis police department swiftly indicted the Black officers involved. This indictment is a reminder of the glaring difference in justice Black men killed by white police officers receive, and the invisibility of Black women and queer victims, who barely get any popular media coverage of the police violence they face. Tyree’s brutal attack by police was publicized by all national news outlets, but there is less popular media coverage of Black women and queer people’s experiences with police violence. My research looks at the experiences of Black women and queer people in the Movement for Black Lives to uncover how their work and struggles fighting against police violence are often overlooked and undermined.

In my recent Gender & Society article, I studied activists in the Black Lives Matter movement as they developed into many grassroots collaborations across America. I studied more than 21 organizations for this research. All are either formally or informally part of the Movement for Black Lives mobilization. My study focuses on Black women and queer people as organizers of this movement. I suspected they might offer an intersectional analysis of the movement as a way to decenter patriarchy, homophobia, and transphobia in the protest calls for abolition and in the halls of our justice system. My study showed that to understand how strong a movement is we should look at how—how leaders struggle to keep marginalized people’s needs central to the demands of the movement.

In this research, I interviewed 48 Black women and queer people in Maryland, Georgia, Tennessee and other places  from 2016 through 2019. This is a millennial movement that illustrates what Ruth Milkman calls a “a new political generation.” While some organizations affiliated with the Movement for Black lives in this study do center Black queer and disabled lives, others still have work to do in making sure these liberation strategies central are clear to all members of the organizations.

My study research identifies many local Black Lives Matter social movement organizations as places where women and queer people still contend with patriarchy, homophobia, and classism. While Black women and queer leaders struggle to remain inclusivity in their local organizations, they are met with challenges within and outside local organizations.

The Movement for Black Lives reaches its 10th year in 2023— and this generations rallying call for Trayvon’s Martin’s killer to be brought to justice has only increased its commitment to abolition, Black Futures, and inclusivity of all the voices in the Black community. This commitment was shown worldwide with the 2020 uprisings—in response to George Floyd’s public suffocation under the knee of Derek Chauvin, a police officer. However, Tyree Nichols death and the increasing amount of police killings since 2020 prove that the challenges are ever present, and liberation is even more necessary. This study points to a need for local organizations, scholars, movement participants and those concerned with justice to be in conversation about how to make our movements mirror the world’s we want. My work shows that Black queer leaders and organizers contribute helping our movements mirror the justice we need. Through world building, analysis and struggle we should get to the world we want, while in movements that model that world.

Dr. Shaneda Destine’s research focus is race, gender, sexuality, and contemporary social movements. She is most interested in how state violence effects the livelihood of marginalized people. She investigates forms of resistance of Black women and Black Queer people, as they create spaces of Black Joy and Respite, while struggling for liberation. Her research highlights the unique ways Black women and femmes are affected by state violence and the ways in which they strategize and negotiate organizing, leading, and caring for themselves and movement participants, as part of their political practice.


By Dragana Stojmenovska

Women are significantly underrepresented in positions of workplace authority and power across the globe. Improving women’s representation in authority jobs has become an important goal for many organizations and governments striving toward gender equality in the workplace. Firms are increasingly adopting policies to increase diversity at all levels of management and some governments have introduced legislation requiring a set quota of representation of women in corporate boards. Although undoubtedly an important direction, my recent research in Gender & Society shows that women’s entry into authority positions alone is not sufficient for achieving gender equality.

In my research I ask a straightforward yet underexplored question: how do the jobs and experiences of women and men compare once they have positions with authority? Using data from a large survey of more than 100,000 women and men working in Dutch organizations, I analyzed differences in reported levels of job benefits such as earnings and autonomy and negative job experiences such as workplace harassment and burnout between women and men in positions of workplace authority. To take account of the fact that women and men are concentrated in different industries that potentially involve different work experiences, I compared women and men with similar qualifications who work in similar industries and sectors.

I find that women in authority report fewer resources than men with similar jobs, and are more likely to report experiences of work-related strains. Crucially, women with authority jobs are the most likely of all groups to report experiencing sexual harassment, bullying, and intimidation at the workplace. They have the highest probability of reporting job burnout symptoms. Men in positions of workplace authority, on the other hand, are the least likely of all groups to experience job burnout.

Widespread gender stereotypes are a likely explanation for these patterns. There is rich empirical evidence indicating that women are seen as less suitable for workplace authority than men, and that these beliefs shape social relations and evaluations of women and men at work. One way such beliefs can have consequences in the workplace is that colleagues and clients harass women in authority in attempts to penalize their violation of gender norms.

My analyses show that the highest incidence of experiencing workplace harassment among women with authority jobs leads to their experiences of job burnout, a psychological response to chronic stressful work conditions.

While my research is based on data from the Netherlands, my findings are likely to apply to other contexts as widely shared cultural beliefs about women’s incompatibility with authority have been documented across countries. One U.S.–based study, for example, also finds that women with workplace authority are the most likely to experience sexual harassment.

The concentration of women in lower-level authority positions does not explain their lower levels of resources and higher probabilities of experiencing job strains. Men have more  resources and are less likely than women in authority to experience job strains for all types of jobs with different levels of authority. For example, men earn substantively more than women both at the bottom of the authority ladder, in positions with little authority, and at the top of the authority hierarchy, in decision-making positions entailing the authority to make final decisions about organizational policies.

A 2022 report on women in the workplace found that women in managerial positions are leaving their companies at the highest rate ever, and that the gap between women and men in senior positions quitting their jobs is larger today than ever before. Workplace harassment and job burnout have often been associated with job absenteeism and higher turnover, and lower job satisfaction and productivity among those who stay on the job. While many women may leave their authority jobs for better authority jobs, it is highly plausible that experiences of workplace harassment and job burnout lead to some women (eventually) dropping out of jobs that carry authority, which leads to even more underrepresentation of women in these jobs.

My research shows that dismantling gender inequality necessitates deep cultural and institutional change.

Dragana Stojmenovska (@dstojmenovska) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Sociology at the New York University. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on gender inequality in the workplace. Her work has been published in the American Sociological Review, Gender, Work & Organization, and Social Forces, among other journals.

Are We Living in an Era Without Gender Bias in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Hiring?

By Enav Friedman and Dorit Efrat-Treister

Even though many organizations are striving toward equity in their hiring decisions, our recent research in Gender & Society has clearly shown we are not yet living in an era free of gender bias in STEM hiring.

We studied bias in the employment criteria, uncouncoius prejudice in favor men usually in a way considered to be unfair to women.

We asked STEM managers to tell us the most important hiring criteria. We then used that criteria in an experiment to compare how managers evaluated male versus female candidates’ CVs. We created identical resume’s except for the gender of the applicant. We also varied the STEM fields including biopharma and biorobotics. Every manager received resume’s to evaluate: a woman’s biopharma resume and a man’s biorobotics resume or vice versa. Each resume contained equivalent academic background and equivalent achievements with some interpersonal management and experience included. We asked the managers to evaluate the candidates on a variety of criteria, including the candidates’ ability to work long hours, problem-solving ability, and their evaluation of the candidates hiring probability.

We expected that managers would not explicitly prefer men but instead would show their bias towards female candidates found by emphasizing a criterion that women managers are less likely to succeed at. We guessed that the working 24/7 STEM norm combined with the perception that women cannot work as long hours as men would  lead to men managers’ to favor men.

We also expected women managers to evaluate other criterion than long hours of work, because they would be more aware that women may be less likely to be willing to work long hours. This would give women a fairer chance of entering STEM. 

As expected, we found that “the ability to work long hours” was a more important criterion for men STEM managers than for women managers for the hiring decisions of a female candidate. While for women managers, “the ability to solve problems” was a more important criterion than men managers when considering a female candidate.

These findings demonstrate that men managers’ gender favoritism has shifted to an implicit bias with the subtle use of hiring criteria to favor male applicants.

We wanted to find a way to fix this problem and so we completed another experiment where we added a personal note to the CVs stating that the candidate hired a full-time nanny and she/he is committed to a career. This personal note reduced the importance that men managers attributed to the “ability to work long hours” criterion in the hiring decision of a female candidate, but elevated the importance women managers assigned to this criterion. As men are the dominant decision-makers in STEM hiring, the personal note might be an effective strategy to reduce implicit gender bias.

We suggest that organizations might reduce implicit gender bias by supporting employees with extra pay to reimburse to cover child care expenses, similar to travel expenses. Such support to both mothers and fathers will convey that the women are not considered solely responsible for the children and the home. Another recommendation, more radical, is to change the organizational culture that reinforces the belief that the ability to work 24/7 is needed to be an ideal worker.  

Until organizations directly address the existence of this type of implicit bias, we advise women to add a personal note to their resume in which they explain their child care arrangement and assure the employer they are fully committed to their careers. Of course, adding this personal note is not the best strategy for social change. What is far more important is reducing implicit bias by showing employers who creates gender inequality. We mention women are in the trap? In an ideal world – we would not offer suggestions for women on how to deal with the problem themselves but suggest that organizations managed by men will deal with the root of the social problem, and change the organizational culture that will help to recruit more women in the STEM fields.

Enav Friedmann is an assistant professor at the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management at Ben Gurion University (BGU) in Israel, and the head of the BGU marketing lab. She holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration from BGU and was a visiting scholar at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, Italy. Her current research includes brand preferences and purchasing choices, tailoring to heterogeneous consumer strata, specifically, gender-related marketing, and social marketing.

Dorit Efrat-Treister is a Senior Lecturer at the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She received her PhD in Organizational Behavior at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, and continued as a post-doctoral fellow at the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia.