RESEARCH

Leaky Pipelines or broken Pipes? Mapping BLACK sociologists’ Networks, successes, and setbacks During hiring and promotion

(co-investigator with Whitney Laster Pirtle, University of California, Merced)

What influences whether Black sociologists are hired into, tenured and promoted along the tenure-track? In what ways does academic rank, seniority, and institutional context influence the hiring and promoting of a department’s Black sociologist(s) to tenure? How do Black sociologists’ networks structure tenure and promotion of Black sociologists? A 2007 ASA research brief identified the presence of a so-called “leaky pipeline” for Black sociologists; across racially minoritized backgrounds, Black students comprised the largest share of BA and MA degree-recipients in sociology, but this trend did not continue with receiving the doctorate or attaining a tenure-track job. There exists little documentation of the contours of the sociology “pipeline” for those moving from PhDs to tenure-track positions. To understand how Black sociologists experience this “pipeline”, this project investigates the social networks and structural means by which Black sociology faculty in the United States have navigated the academy. Specifically, this mixed-methods project fields a network-survey and conducts oral histories to 1) establish an initial record of Black sociologist “firsts” to achieve tenure, 2) ascertain the degree to which tenured Black sociologists move between institutions, and 3) map the networks these Black sociologists are part of to understand their role throughout Black sociologists’ careers. Results will allow for a deeper understanding of what roadblocks exist in the sociology pipeline, and how these obstacles are broken down. This foundational study will be a springboard for future studies of disciplines and knowledge production. Learn more about this project and take the survey at blackphdpipelineproject.com

This project is supported by a 2021 American Sociological Association Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline Grant, funded by the National Science Foundation.


WOMEN/FEMMES OF COLOR AND THE ACADEMIC JOB MARKET 

(co-investigator with Apryl A. Williams, University of Michigan)

Though many colleges and universities have instituted trainings and an assortment of practices to reduce bias in hiring or in creating more equitable work environments, microaggressions and other forms of discrimination continue to occur at virtually every level in which marginalized scholars participate in academia. Our study assesses how women and femmes of color experience the gate-keeping process of the job market. We aim to engage in a critical and intersectionally-driven evaluation of implicit and explicit marginalization of women and femmes of color who are in pursuit of academic employment. A majority of the literature on discrimination in academia throughout education studies, sociology, women’s and gender studies, and ethnic studies focuses on the microaggressions and other forms of systemic inequality that are experienced by people already enrolled in graduate programs or already employed as faculty. We expand this body of knowledge by investigating the experiences of marginalized scholars who are trying to procure academic positions. Inspired by Patricia Hill Collins’ theorizing on the outsider-within, as well as our own journeys on the academic job market, we focus on the experiences of women and femmes of color to facilitate a critical examination of the systemic reproduction of inequality in contemporary universities. Through survey data of cis, trans, and nonbinary women and femmes of color, we assess the schemas of knowledge that are developed to better cope with, and succeed on, the academic job market.

This project is supported by the 2019 Natalie Allon Fund Research Award from Sociologists for Women in Society.


WHITENESS, RACIAL POLITICS, AND INTIMACY

This project focuses on the dating experiences and preferences of 11 white men residing in Central Texas in an effort to unpack how broader racial, gender, and sexual politics in the United States are being understood, internalized, and perpetuated. Specifically, these interviews begin to assess how politics influence everyday aspects of people’s intimate lives and build on previous work on multiracial women online daters.

In the last few years, white men have been at the forefront of mainstream media coverage. During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, political pundits and public intellectuals spent a great deal of time discussing the concerns of the so-called working class that had been “left behind” and the bubbling racial tensions that had been tied to issues like police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement for several years. Amidst then-candidate Donald Trump’s calls to “make America great again” were underlying threads of white nationalism, sexism, xenophobia (particularly toward Hispanic/Latinx immigrants and Muslims), and anti-blackness.

During Trump’s tenure as president, these sentiments grew in strength. Alongside these broader political and cultural tensions, the U.S. has also seen an increase in interracial coupling over the last few decades. This project continues my interventions in the literature on interracial coupling by talking to people in the process of dating in order to assess factors that inform the types of decision-making people engage in when selecting partners and how cultural context influences romantic and sexual choices.


MIXED-RACE, INTIMACY, AND THE ON-LINE DATING EXPERIENCE

Dating, cohabitating, and marriage processes aided by online dating are central topics of interest for researchers interested in modern modes of relationship formation. This qualitative multi-method project intervenes by assessing self-identified multiracial and multiethnic (mixed-race) women’s understandings of race, gender, and class, providing insight into the experiences that are obscured within analyses of large-scale online dating trends. Through digital ethnography, content analysis of 225 profiles from the online dating website, OkCupid, and 30 in-depth interviews with mixed-race women residing in Texas to date, this project presents the practices used to entice and select potential partners, centering the factors that frame the production and regulation of race within relationships.

For mixed-race women who are dating both on- and off-line, appearance and ethnic identity influence how they are racialized, how they racialize others, and therefore, how racial dynamics play out. Mixed-race women use vetting strategies (the specific ways of listening to, and prompting, potential partners on dates to determine their politics) and specific narrative frames that frame racial boundaries as a means of making partner choices and reaffirming their own racialized, gendered, and classed identities. By focusing on how mixed-race women describe and interpret their on- and off-line experiences, this research shows how the logics of colorblindness and anti-blackness extend into everyday life, illuminating contemporary meanings of race and the post-racial in the United States.