Monthly Archives

April 2018

Research Findings

Alternatives to prison for parole violators: Collateral consequences for employment

April 28, 2018

Although “mass incarceration” is now a commonly used term among academics and policymakers alike, the huge increase in imprisonment in the United States since the 1970s was also accompanied by an expansion of many other aspects of the criminal justice system. For example, at year end 2015, one out of 53 US adults was on community supervision – either probation or parole – according the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The surveillance and monitoring that is central to community supervision puts parolees and probationers at heightened risk of imprisonment for technical violations, but that is not the only punishment available to authorities. Alternative punishments, or what are sometimes called short-term custodial sanctions, can mean short stays in jail, residential prisoner reentry centers, or probation detention. These sanctions are a common occurrence that has real employment impacts for those who experience them.

While researchers have long been studying the effects of imprisonment, until recently little was known about the effects of these short-term custodial sanctions. On the one hand, such sanctions could interrupt a job search, sever social ties, enhance the stigma of a felony record, or lead to the loss of a job. On the other hand, such sanctions are a response to violations of parole like absconding or substance use. They might interrupt a downward trajectory or provide needed services at a crucial moment.

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Research Findings

From opt out to blocked out: Stay-at-home parents face challenges re-entering the workforce

April 24, 2018

The decision to become a stay-at-home parent is often not easy – many parents weigh the costs of career sacrifices relative to the benefits of increased family time. They might want to consider another cost: how easy will it be to return to work?

Previous research has demonstrated that unemployed job applicants are disadvantaged in the hiring process relative to applicants who had no employment lapses. Researchers have also studied how parents who try to balance family demands with inflexible workplaces can face penalties at work – sometimes leading them to “opt out” of work to become stay-at-home parents. My recent study builds on this research to examine what happens to stay-at-home parents who want to return to work.

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Research Findings

Women’s changing occupational careers and gender wage inequality

April 17, 2018

The narrowing of the gender wage gap is an important indicator of progress toward gender equality. This pay gap narrowed substantially during the 1980s and then more slowly during the 1990s and early 2000s.  After 2007, wage convergence ceased entirely. Why?

Conventional analyses attribute changes in the female-male wage ratio to corresponding changes in the work experience and qualifications of the female workforce. My research broadens this focus by examining how changes in women’s occupational career paths, and in the relative earnings of the occupations to which those career paths lead, impacted the gender wage gap over the period 1979 to 2015.

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Research Findings

How much gender segregation is there in American doctoral education?

April 11, 2018

“The problem is not that we don’t want to hire women or scholars of color, it’s that there aren’t enough graduating from the departments from which we typically hire.” I heard this refrain often during my stint as a co-PI on Cornell’s NSF-funded initiative to diversify its STEM faculty, and it’s echoed in reports from similar initiatives at other universities.

An assumption embedded in this refrain is that the pipeline of women and scholars of color graduating from elite PhD programs – “the departments from which we typically hire” – is smaller than overall pool of women and scholars of color in a field. This is a claim about segregation: it’s not just that men and women, for example, earn PhDs in different fields (“field segregation”), but that they earn PhDs from programs that differ in prestige (“prestige segregation”).

But, how much prestige and field segregation is there in American doctoral education? Do all fields show prestige segregation, or just some of them? Are differences in prestige segregation across fields predicted by differences in the emphasis put on math skills?

To answer these questions, Dafna Gelbgiser, Sarah Thébaud, and I analyzed data on all PhDs awarded by gender, PhD field (e.g., economics, physics), and institution (e.g., SUNY-Binghamton, MIT) in the United States between 2003 and 2014. We linked these data to National Research Council rankings of PhD-granting programs (e.g., Cornell Sociology) and to Educational Testing Service data on the mean verbal and math Graduate Record Exam scores of test-takers in a field.

We excluded Masters and professional degrees, and limited our analysis to gender segregation. We are working on a similar analysis of racial segregation.

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Research Findings

The class biases of European integration and the rise of winner-take-all dynamics in Europe

April 3, 2018

Over the past decade, Europe has stumbled from crisis to crisis. The conflict-ridden management of the continent’s troubled currency union gave way to discord over migration issues, from the freedom of movement within the continent’s Internal Market to the mass influx of refugees from Syria. Most recently, uncertainty over Britain’s decision to exit (Brexit) the European Union has taken center stage.

The series of calamities seems unending, and each episode seems to be the next step in the progressive disintegration of Europe’s established political economic order.

In addition, populism of an exclusionary bent has made a nasty comeback in the polls, and support for social democratic parties has fallen rapidly. This has made it practically impossible for progressives across the continent to offer viable alternatives to center-right governments.

Observers worry that the continent might have lost its capacity to maintain the egalitarian societies and socially embedded markets that have long informed arguments for social democratic reforms in the United States.

What are the lessons from recent developments? How should social scientists respond? What is the way forward for political activists?

In a recent paper I explore contemporary challenges to institutional reproduction and social citizenship in Europe, focusing on the dynamics of transformation transnationally and within two countries, Germany and Denmark.

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