OOW Early Career Scholars

As part of our March newsletter, OOW profiles early career scholars Caitlyn Collins, Matthew Corritore, Nicole Denier, Allie Feldberg, Alexandre Frenette, Minjae Kim, Ethel Mickey, Sanaz Mobasseri, Kate Williams and Jaclyn Wong. Learn more about these scholars below.

Caitlyn CollinsCaitlyn Collins headshot 2

Caitlyn Collins’ research, teaching, and writing focuses on how and why gender inequality persists in the workplace and family life.

Her book, Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving, was published in 2019 with Princeton University Press. This book is the first to compare work-family policies cross-nationally from the perspective of mothers themselves. Caitlyn conducted interviews with 135 working mothers in Sweden, Germany, Italy, and the United States. These four countries offer distinct policy approaches to reconciling work-family conflict. The book begins—rather than ends—with the question of policy. She examines how different ideals of gender, motherhood, and employment are embedded in these policies, and how they shape the daily lives of working mothers. Making Motherhood Work shows that framing work-family conflict as a problem of “imbalance” is too individualistic. It doesn’t take into account how institutions contribute to this stress. Caitlyn argues for a social movement centered on work-family justice, which highlights the reality that this conflict isn’t the outcome of individual women’s shortcomings or mismanaged commitments. Instead, it’s the result of cultural attitudes and policies embedded in workplaces and systems of welfare provisioning. In Erik Olin Wright’s wise words, as with all social problems, work-family conflict doesn’t reflect some fixed law of nature. It reflects the current social organization of power. Mothers need justice, not balance.

This project was support by the National Science Foundation, American Association of University Women, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), among others. Caitlyn’s research appears in peer-reviewed journals including Gender & SocietyQualitative Sociology, and several edited books. Her writing appears in the New York TimesThe Atlantic, and Slate. Caitlyn’s work has received press coverage in Harvard Business ReviewWashington PostThe AtlanticThe New York Times, and National Public Radio. She received her B.A. from Whitman College and her Ph.D. in Sociology from The University of Texas at Austin. Her next project is an ethnographic study of the market for childcare.

Matthew Corritorematthew-corritore

Professor Corritore is broadly interested in using computational social science tools to study cultural processes and the changing nature of work in organizations. Methodological advances in text analysis and language models not only provide new opportunities to measure complex phenomena, but can also drive the development of novel theory. He uses these tools in two research streams. The first is focused on the relationship between cultural heterogeneity, or diverse ideas, beliefs, and normative expectations, and organizational performance. One paper challenges work positing a trade-off between a homogenous, productive culture and a diverse, innovative culture. He finds two distinct types of cultural heterogeneity with different effects: disagreement among members about cultural norms and beliefs undermines productivity, but organizations with members drawing from broad, diverse cultural toolkits have a greater capacity for creativity and innovation. In another paper, he examines the dynamics of organizational culture by studying cultural fragmentation in organizations, i.e. when consensus among members about the norms and beliefs guiding work breaks down, and finds that periods of heightened volatility and ambiguity portend increased fragmentation.

His second research stream is focused on understanding how nonstandard work and the gig economy impact worker welfare. For example, he analyzes detailed worker-level data from a career intelligence website to examine the consequences of the proliferation of contract work into different occupations and organizations for job satisfaction. Inspired by recent events like the 2018 Google walkouts, which highlighted dissatisfaction about how contractors are treated as cultural outsiders in some firms, he examines how job satisfaction compares between contractors and regular employees doing similar work. He finds that organizations with stronger, more cohesive cultures feature a larger gap in job satisfaction between contractors and regular employees, suggesting that any benefits of cultural cohesion only extend to cultural insiders.

Nicole DenierIMG_1180

Professor Denier’s work considers the structure and operation of the labor market both as an engine and as a site of social transformation. She is particularly interested in the interplay between social and economic inequality. These interests inspire two current lines of inquiry. The first conceptualizes the labor market as an agent of change by examining the nature of labor market instability and industrial transformation across the U.S. and Canada, two intertwined societies but with unique industrial and welfare state policies. Using longitudinal data, she looks at how workers’ lives and careers evolve in the wake of job separations, part of both routine and catastrophic industrial change in both countries. The second line of inquiry focuses on labor markets as spaces of social interaction, specifically focusing on how sexual orientation factors into job outcomes. She is working with collaborators to carry out a comprehensive mixed methods project on sexual orientation inequality in Canadian workplaces. Though Canada is frequently touted as socially progressive, with model anti-discrimination legislation, evidence shows that LGBT people face discrimination and pay inequities. To understand this disconnect, she is exploring multiple pathways that could lead to workplace inequality. This effort includes employer interviews to access organizational perceptions of sexuality, interviews with LGBTQ+ workers to determine how workers navigate identities across workplace contexts, resume audits to isolate hiring patterns and an analysis of pay disparities.

Professor Denier recently joined the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta as Assistant Professor of Sociology, specializing in Work, Economy, and Society. Prior to Alberta, she was appointed as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Colby College after receiving her PhD at McGill University. She is excited to return to teaching and building research on work, industry, and stratification systems in Canada – research essential to a vibrant field in Canada and to informing comparative research on work across North America.

Alexandra (Allie) FeldbergFeldberg_SOC

Alexandra (Allie) Feldberg is a PhD candidate in the program in Organizational Behavior and Sociology, jointly offered by Harvard Business School’s Organizational Behavior unit and Harvard University’s Sociology department. Her research uses qualitative and quantitative methods to examine intersections between gender, knowledge-transfer, technology, and discrimination within firms. Her work spans industries and settings, from the upper echelons of a global investment bank to the floor of a grocery chain to concierge desks of hotels nationwide. Across these contexts, she has developed three lines of research that consider (1) how new technologies and big data in the workplace are shifting men and women’s performance outcomes and relationship networks, (2) what men and women prioritize to do their jobs and advance their careers, and (3) the extent to which frontline employees discriminate in the information and services they provide to customers. Her research has received the Dorothy Harlow Best Conference Paper Award from the Gender and Diversity in Organizations division of the Academy of Management and been featured in outlets like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. Before beginning her PhD, Allie worked as a management consultant with Katzenbach Partners, a staff member at Columbia University, and an Education Pioneers Fellow with Teach For America. Allie graduated from Columbia College at Columbia University with a BA in History.

Alexandre Frenette s200_alexandre.frenette

Alexandre Frenette is assistant professor of sociology and associate director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the Graduate Center, City University of New York and was postdoctoral scholar at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Alexandre’s research draws on intersecting interests in work and occupations, culture, media, social inequality, and education. Specifically, he uses mixed-methods to study how workers attempt to launch and sustain careers in the precarious economy using the cultural and creative industries as a case study. Drawing on fieldwork in the music industry, Frenette is currently working on a monograph about the challenges and the promise of internships as part of higher education, tentatively titled The Intern Economy (under contract, Princeton University Press). Given the recent rise of credential inflation and youth unemployment, he introduces the concept of “provisional labor” to scrutinize the increasingly common, indefinite periods of cheap or unpaid work people must undertake to establish careers. In the process, his research uncovers how the normalization of unpaid labor limits diversity and exacerbates socioeconomic inequality in the workplace. His writings on the intern economy have won awards from the Society for the Study of Social Problems as well as the Labor and Employment Relations Association.

With support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Alexandre is also analyzing data on the educational experiences and work lives of over 200,000 arts graduates (broadly speaking, including media, fine arts, and design alumni) to better understand the often-unequal career trajectories of arts graduates (by class, race/ethnicity, gender, and age). In particular, as an active member of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, his research examines how artists and other cultural workers must increasingly hold multiple jobs, work as independent contractors, and flexibly deploy their talents across sectors. Alexandre edited an issue of American Behavioral Scientist on the experiences of arts graduates as the vanguards of precarious work and his writings on the creative economy also appear in Work and Occupations, Cultural Trends, Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, and Research in the Sociology of Work.

Minjae KimKim_Minjae_Picture2019

Minjae’s research lies at the intersection of entrepreneurship, social evaluations, and cultural markets. He seeks to identify how actors in entrepreneurial contexts attempt to elicit favorable evaluations including perceptions of commitment, authenticity, and competence. He is especially interested in dilemmas that arise from this process. For example, claims of commitment, authenticity, and competence can be subject to suspicions of ingenuity and ulterior motives. How might actors combat these suspicions to elicit more favorable evaluations? Further, how might some important macro-phenomena be driven by these attempts? Under this umbrella question, he addresses when and why norm enforcers might appear suspected of violating very norms they enforce (with Ezra Zuckerman, published in Sociological Science in 2017), when and why actors might consume lowbrow cultural products as well as highbrow ones (with Oliver Hahl and Zuckerman, American Sociological Review 2017), when and why lying demagogues might appear authentic (with Hahl and Zuckerman, ASR 2018), and when actors are more likely to relay information via social ties (with Roberto Fernandez, Social Science Research 2017).

Minjae’s most recent project in progress addresses this dilemma faced by high-growth startups and entrepreneurs. When entrepreneurial actors scale up (i.e. expand and/or diversify for a bigger pool of audiences), they are often suspected to be uncommitted to their original audiences, caring more about other audiences and/or, worse yet, caring more about extrinsic gains. This suspicion is especially applicable to high-growth entrepreneurial actors that by definition pursue scaling up, but also face “liability of newness” (Stinchcombe 1965) through which they elicit less trust. Yet, some entrepreneurial actors seem to be able to overcome this “commitment penalty” while simultaneously scaling up. When and why might entrepreneurial actors’ pursuits for scale (and extrinsic gains coming from it) appear aligned with their commitment to original audiences; and when and why might the two pursuits appear to be antithetical? This question is also applicable to entrepreneurs in political spheres who often have to appeal to constituents beyond their niche supporters. In testing his theory addressing this question, he uses a combination of experimental and observational evidence.

Ethel L. Mickey Ethel Mickey

Ethel Mickey is a Visiting Lecturer of Sociology at Wellesley College. She received her PhD in Sociology at Northeastern University in 2018, with a Graduate Certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and her B.A. in Sociology and English from Vanderbilt University. She is also currently a Virtual Visiting Scholar for the Association of Women in Science, funded through the National Science Foundation. Her research and teaching interests include work and organizations, gender, social networks, and qualitative methods, with a focus on high-tech and STEM settings in the United States. Through a qualitative organizational case study, including interviews with tech workers and workplace observations, she examines the relational mechanisms undergirding gender, race, and class dynamics in the technology sector.

Her most recent paper, in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, reveals the exclusionary nature of networking, including the unintended consequences of corporate networking programs designed to improve organizational diversity and the status of women and minorities.

In her forthcoming article with Gender & Society, titled, “When Gendered Logics Collide: Going Public and Restructuring in a High-Tech Organization,” Ethel analyzes the gendered implications of a high-tech startup restructuring and going public. She finds that the flexible organization bureaucratizes, creating conflicting organizational logics that place women at a structural disadvantage and limit their ability to meet ideal worker expectations.

Ethel’s other recent work won the 2018 Best Student Paper Award from the section on Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Studies, and Honorable Mention for the 2018 Mother Board Writing Prize from the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women & Sexuality at MIT. She recently co-edited, with Adia Harvey Wingfield, a volume of Research in The Sociology of Work on Race, Identity, and Work. In another line of research, Ethel has collaborated with Linda Blum on grassroots feminist activism targeting campus sexual harassment. In addition to research, Ethel teaches courses on gender, science and technology, organizations, and qualitative methods.

Sanaz MobasseriBU, Boston University, Questrom, Questrom School of Business Sanaz Mobasseri

Sanaz’s research investigates how organizational and social network processes shape gender and race differences amongst employees in the workplace. She does this by examining the roles of culture, cognition, and emotion in organizations using field experimental and computational research methodologies.

Her research primarily examines the labor market consequences of criminality, deviance, and misconduct. In one study, she examines how exposure to violent crime events affects employers’ decisions to hire black job applicants with and without a criminal record, and finds that recent exposure to nearby violence reduced employers’ likelihood of calling back black job applicants by 10 percentage points, whether or not they had a criminal record, but did not have the same effect on callback rates for white or Hispanic applicants. In another research project with coauthors, she investigates whether there are labor market consequences for individuals marked with allegations of recent and past misconduct.

A second focus of her research studies the role of gender in shaping a range of interpersonal outcomes at work — how women express emotions to their colleagues in routine emails,  how women collaborate with coworkers on technology-mediated communication platforms, and how women detect and form social networks. In her dissertation, she finds that women emotionally accommodate their colleagues more than men do, by adapting their own expressive tendencies to match the emotions expressed by their conversation partners.

Sanaz received her PhD in 2018 from the University of California, Berkeley and recently started a position as an Assistant Professor at Boston University.

Kate Williams A098C029-5792-405F-9F3E-D34E0D5B69CE

Kate is an Economic and Social Research Council Future Research Leaders Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge and a Research Fellow at Lucy Cavendish College Cambridge. She is also currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Weatherhead Centre, Harvard University. Her research focuses on the production, use and evaluation of policy knowledge, particularly on emerging digital methods of impact assessment. Her research occurs at the intersection of sociology, public policy and research evaluation. It aims to contribute a nuanced sociological understanding to pragmatic concerns around accountability and performance. Originally from Australia, Kate moved to Cambridge UK in 2012 to complete her PhD.

Jaclyn S. Wong Wong_Jaclyn_18 (002)

Dr. Wong’s research examines how young dual-career couples make career and relocation decisions together to document how these micro-level processes shape gender inequality in careers more broadly. Using longitudinal in-depth interviews with both partners of 21 couples deciding to move for career opportunities, she shows in a Gender & Society article that the way couples compromise (or don’t) can reinforce gender inequality in early career outcomes despite these couples’ wishes for egalitarian relationships. She is currently conducting five-year follow-up interviews with these couples to assess longer-term career outcomes after couples decided to move (or not) for these early career opportunities. Her teaching areas include social stratification; race, class, gender, and sexuality; gender, work, and family; and research methods.

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