How to promote marriage equality? Reassessing the debate

The U.S. Supreme Court fueled the flames of the same-sex marriage debate in its ruling on June 26, 2013, directing the federal government to provide equal treatment to same-sex spouses and allowing the resumption of gay marriages in California. These decisions marked an important milestone for lesbian and gay rights. Still, same-sex marriage is illegal in most states, and much must be accomplished before there is true equality for lesbians and gay men. In discussions of marriage equality, however, there is more at stake than is generally acknowledged. In fact, a number of recent laws and policies pose an additional challenge to end the types of discrimination based on legal marriage. These laws specify terms for a new direction in public policy to promote heterosexual marriage as a route out of poverty and off welfare. Continue reading “How to promote marriage equality? Reassessing the debate”

Why scientists think there are more women in biology than physics

In a recent piece on The Huffington Post, James Gentile writes about a paper I published with Anne Lincoln and Cassandra Tansey called “Gender Segregation in Elite Academic Science.” The paper explored why there are vast differences in the proportion of women in different science disciplines—and what scientists themselves feel accounts for these differences. Why, for example, would 81 percent of female scientists be found in only three disciplines—psychology, social sciences, or life sciences (such as biology) as the National Science Board found in 2006? Why are there many more women in biology than in physics?

Continue reading “Why scientists think there are more women in biology than physics”

Becoming the help: How do bodies matter in domestic work?

Imagine showing up for your first day of work, at the home of a middle-class or wealthy Ecuadorian family. You’ve woken up at dawn and taken an unlicensed cab, and then a bus to another bus, to arrive two hours later at the house you’ll be working in. You’ve left your family behind, either in your house on the periphery of the city, or in the countryside when you migrated to the city to find work. You’ll be cooking, cleaning, and/or caring for children or the elderly in a private home. Continue reading “Becoming the help: How do bodies matter in domestic work?”

Movement and mobility in transnational surrogacy: Taking a geographical approach to understanding power and inequality

In much of the media coverage on surrogacy in India, images of women confined to surrogacy hostels accompany stories of infertile parents’ journeys to India for gestational commercial surrogacy. When I first began researching transnational surrogacy, I was intrigued by the role that mobility and movement played in these stories—and I was particularly interested in its implications for geography, power, and inequality. Why did some people seem to move through space with ease, while others’ movements were restricted and strictly monitored? What might a geographic lens reveal about power in transnational surrogacy? Continue reading “Movement and mobility in transnational surrogacy: Taking a geographical approach to understanding power and inequality”

Where are all the men?: Doing feminist research

Trier-Bieniek_blogimageAs I began the process of marketing my first book, “Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos”, which addresses the ways women have used music as a means to heal following trauma as well as challenges the pop culture portrait of women, I found myself on the receiving end of the same question.  In interviews or with bloggers, as well as people who commented on Amazon and people who found my work on Facebook, all asked the same questions: “I don’t understand why you didn’t study men?”  While sometimes amusing, and often times frustrating, (i.e the person who called me a “misanderist” on Facebook), this question seems to follow a researcher whenever she/he works primarily with women. Continue reading “Where are all the men?: Doing feminist research”

Complicating “Sex on Campus”: A More Nuanced Picture

A recent article in the New York Times, “Sex on Campus: She Can Play that Game, Too” reports on the changing sexual preferences of college women, and the benefits and costs they experience in the casual hookup scene. The article gets many things right. Most notably it dispels a popular “battle of the sexes” notion in which women are forced to interact sexually on men’s terms—only hooking up because they cannot extract the commitment they desire. Today’s college women are indeed finding committed relationships greedy of their time, efforts, and energies. Many desire hookups, or casual sexual activity in the alcohol-fueled college party scene. Casual sexual activity may even act as a delay strategy, helping women to postpone marriage until later in the life course, after both partners have established their careers. Continue reading “Complicating “Sex on Campus”: A More Nuanced Picture”

Racial/Gender Fears Aren’t Confined to the Jury Box

In a piece on The Atlantic, sociologist Phil Cohen considers the ways that gender and race could have worked together to influence the mostly white female jury in the George Zimmerman case. Cohen argues that the defense team utilized the strategy of amplifying the narrative of black male criminality and threat to white femininity. In doing so, Cohen highlights the often overlooked ways that gender is part of a case that has become notorious for its racial dynamics. Continue reading “Racial/Gender Fears Aren’t Confined to the Jury Box”