Archive

Author Archives: Adia Harvey Wingfield

TV chef Paula Deen is the most recent celebrity to become caught in a scandal related to racist language or behavior. In breaking the story, most news outlets have emphasized Deen’s deposed statements admitting that she has used racial epithets for blacks, describing her admiration for a restaurant that evoked Civil War era-racial imagery of black men in service professions, and her fear that her wish to plan a wedding around that theme would be “misinterpreted.”

 

However, many reports overlook an important aspect of this story—the way in which it reveals the persistence of ongoing racial discrimination at work.

Read More

Advertisements

If you only looked at media portrayals (and a great deal of sociological research), you might write off black men as mostly trapped by an educational system that too often fails them, labor market that under-employs them, and criminal justice system that over-incarcerates them. You might conclude that there are a few black men who happen to beat these social structures and become highly visible role models who advocate for adopting appropriate values as a way of achieving social and personal success. Overall, however, it would be easy to conclude that most black men fall somewhere in these two camps.

My research challenges this generalization. Realizing that black men who work in professional jobs are virtually absent from much sociological research, I conducted a study of the ways that race, gender, and class shape their work experiences to get a sense of how we can learn more about the sociological processes that impact various aspects of their occupational trajectories. The findings are reported in my new book, No More Invisible Man: Race and Gender in Men’s Work.

Read More

A recent article on Forbes purported to rank the least stressful jobs, and perhaps predictably, sparked outrage among academics when it ranked being a university professor as the number one least stressful job. The article contains some dubious claims that might make you do a double-take if you work as a professor–among them that professors are “off” from May-September, enjoy long breaks during the school year, that there is “some” pressure to publish (!) and that “deadlines are few”. The ranking is based on markers of stress including but not limited to travel, competitiveness, growth potential, and risk to one’s own life or others.

Read More

Julie and Rebecca have cited important sociological analysis that documents the fact that net of hours worked, the gender wage gap remains such that men still outearn their female peers in the same occupations. One other piece of commonsense wisdom often cited to explain the wage gap is the argument that women select occupations that tend to be lower paying—teaching, nursing, and other positions that we tend to associate with women. According to this line of reasoning, women are more likely to self-select into the “feminized” positions within certain fields, which then contributes to gender inequality in the labor market.

Read More

A few days ago, the top story on Huffington Post was an article titled “Women’s Jobs Axed by State Austerity Politics.” The piece argued that as public sector jobs are decreasing, women are disproportionately the ones losing work as many of the jobs that are affected by budget cuts—teaching, providing child care—are those that are typically filled by women. Inasmuch as jobs tend to be sex segregated, the female dominated jobs in the private sector that women tend to occupy (administrative services, secretarial work) are not in high demand, leaving women in a position where the sort of jobs in which they tend to be concentrated are declining or even disappearing.

Read More

Rachael’s post insightfully delves into the ways that The Help has served to motivate domestic workers to organize and push for better treatment, as well as the ways that the film reinforces racialized narratives and stereotypes.  While the film and book are fictional stories based on historical material, sociological research on race, gender, and work provide more nuanced, accurate portrayals of the challenges, issues, and obstacles domestic workers encounter.

In a 2003 article published in the Annual Review of Sociology, sociologists Irene Browne and Joya Misra consider whether the literature on work and occupations provides support for the arguments made by intersectionality theorists. Specifically, inasmuch as an intersectional approach contends that issues of race, gender, class, and other categories are overlapping rather than singular and mutually exclusive, Browne and Misra examine whether key areas studied by researchers in the sociology of work show evidence of this overlap. As part of their analysis, Browne and Misra look at the literature on domestic workers to consider whether this indicates interactions of race, gender, and class. These authors note that the overwhelming preponderance of women of color–particularly immigrant women of color–in this profession signifies employers’ preference for certain workers to do this type of labor. Additionally, the low pay afforded to most domestic workers further signifies the ways that race, gender, class—and in this case, nationality—are intertwined.

Read More