Areas of Research/Interest: Gender, Family, Families and Work, Work and Occupations, Social Inequality, The Life Course and Human Development, Social and Individual Change Processes, Qualitative Research Methods and Multi-Method Approaches, Social Policy and Social Change
External Affiliations: Founding Board Member, Work-Family Researchers Network; Founding Board Member, Center for the Study of Women in the Professions, UC San Diego; Past President, Eastern Sociological Society; Past Board Member, Council on Contemporary Families; Editorial Board, Rose Monograph Series, American Sociological Association; Editorial Board, Work and Occupations; Past Chair, Family Section, American Sociological Association; Member, Sociological Research Association.
Fellowships/Honors: Jessie Bernard Award, American Sociological Association; William J. Goode Distinguished Book Award, Family Section of the American Sociological Association (for "The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Gender, Work, and Family"; Invited Fellow, Stanford Center for Advanced Research in the Behavioral Sciences; Visiting Scholar, Russell Sage Foundation; Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research; Distinguished Feminist Lecturer, Sociologists for Women in Society; Honorable Mention, Mirra Komarovsky Book Award, Eastern Sociological Society (for "The Time Divide"); A Best Business Book, Strategy Business Magazine (for "The Time Divide"); Finalist, C. Wright Mills Award and William J. Goode Distinguished Book Award (for "Hard Choices: How Women Decide About Work, Career, and Motherhood"); Charles Phelps Taft Lecturer, University of Cincinnati; Kingsley Birge Endowed Lecture, Colby College; research grants from the Sloan Foundation and the National Science Foundation.
Kathleen Gerson is Professor of Sociology and Collegiate Professor of Arts and Science at New York University. Her work focuses on the connections among gender, work, and family life in post-industrial societies. She conducts research that seeks to combine the deep understandings of qualitative, life history interviews with the rigor of systematically collected samples and carefully situated comparisons. Her theoretical concern aims to explain the interactive links between processes of social and individual change, with special attention to how institutional conflicts and contradictions prompt creative human action. She is currently at work on a new project investigating “new moral dilemmas of work and care.”
Kathleen’’s most recent book, The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Gender, Work, and Family (Oxford University Press, paperback, 2011, hardback, 2010) examines how new generations have experienced growing up amid changing families and blurring gender boundaries. The Unfinished Revolution shows how irreversible but incomplete change has created a growing clash between new egalitarian ideals and resistant social institutions. Although young women and men hope to fashion flexible, egalitarian gender strategies, they are falling back on less desirable options that foster a new gender divide between “self-reliant” women and “neo-traditional” men. The solution to these 21st century conundrums is to finish the gender revolution by creating more flexible, egalitarian workplaces and child-supportive communities.
Professor Gerson is also the author or co-author of four additional books and over fifty articles, essays, and opinion pieces. Her first major work, Hard Choices: How Women Decide About Work, Career, and Motherhood (University of California, 1985; paperback, 1986), provided an early framework for understanding women’’s paths and strategies amid revolutionary shifts in work, marriage, and parenthood. A finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award and the William J. Goode Distinguished Book Award, Hard Choices continues to inform ongoing debates about women’’s work and family commitments. Her next book, No Man’’s Land: Men’’s Changing Commitments to Family and Work (Basic Books, 1993; paperback, 1994), analyzed the pervasive but often ignored changes in men’’s lives and charted men’’s responses to institutional shifts that have given them both expanded freedom to avoid family responsibilities and rising incentives to become more involved in family life. No Man’s Land was chosen as an ASA "Author Meets the Critics" featured book and selected as a “new and noteworthy” paperback by The New York Times Book Review.
More recently, Gerson teamed with Jerry A. Jacobs (University of Pennsylvania) on The Time Divide: Family, Work, and Gender Inequality (Harvard University Press, 2004, paperback, 2005), which draws on census, survey, and cross-national data to explain how and why growing inequality in working time is dividing Americans in new ways. The Time Divide was named a ““best business book”” by Strategy Business magazine, received honorable mention for the Mirra Komarovsky Book Award, and was featured at ““Author Meets the Critics”” sessions for the ASA, the ESS, and the Southern Sociological Society. Work from this project also received the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research.
Kathleen has held visiting positions at the Russell Sage Foundation (New York City) and the Center for the Study of Status Passages and Risks in the Life Course (Bremen, Germany) and has served as President of the Eastern Sociological Society, NYU Sociology Department Chair, Chair of the ASA Family Section, and an editorial board member of the American Sociological Review and Work and Occupations. She has participated in a wide range of research and policy initiatives, including the Ford Foundation Project on Integrating Work, Family, and Community; the Sloan Foundation Research Network on Work-Family Issues; the Gender Module of the General Social Survey; the Council of Research Advisors for Purdue’s Center for Families; and Catalyst’s Advisory Board for “The Next Generation of Women Leaders.” She has served as a board member of the Council on Contemporary Families and was named Distinguished Feminist Lecturer on Women and Social Change by the Sociologists for Women in Society and the Charles Phelps Taft Lecturer (at the University of Cincinnati) and the Kingsley Birge Endowed Lecture (at Colby College).
Kathleen grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and San Francisco, California. After receiving her B.A. from Stanford University and her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, she joined the NYU faculty and has resided in New York City ever since.
The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Books: Gender, Work, and Family. New York: Oxford University Press (2010; paperback edition, 2011).
The Time Divide: Work, Family, and Gender Inequality (with Jerry A. Jacobs). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (2004, paperback edition, 2005; Korean edition, 2010).
No Man's Land: Men's Changing Commitments to Family and Work. New York: Basic Books (1993; paperback edition, 1994).
Hard Choices: How Women Decide About Work, Career, and Motherhood. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press (1985; paperback edition, 1986).
Selected Recent Articles
“Time-Greedy Workplaces and Marriageable Men: The Paradox in Men's Fathering Beliefs and Strategies” (with Pamela Kaufman). In "Men, Wage Work and Care," edited by Paula McDonald. London: Routledge (2012).
“Families and Family Life” (with Stacy Torres). In "The Sociology Project: Introducing the Sociological Imagination," edited by Jeff Manza, Richard Arum, and Lynne Haney. Boston and New York: Pearson (2012).
"Changing Family Patterns and the Future of Family Life” (with Stacy Torres). In "Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences," edited by Stephen M. Kosslyn and Robert A. Scott. Sage Publications (forthcoming).
“Falling Back on Plan B: The Children of the Gender Revolution Face Uncharted Territory.” In "Families as They Really Are," edited by Barbara J. Risman. New York: W.W. Norton (2010).
“Changing Lives, Resistant Institutions: A New Generation Negotiates Gender, Work, and Family Change.” Sociological Forum 24 (4) (December, 2009). (with Jerry A. Jacobs)
“Work and American Families: Diverse Needs, Common Solutions.” In "American Families: A Multicultural Reader." Edited by Stephanie Coontz. New York: Routledge (2008).