Tag Archives | Gender

Obesity Is in the Eye of the Beholder: BMI and Socioeconomic Outcomes across Cohorts

Vida Maralani, Douglas McKee

Sociological Science, April 19, 2017
DOI 10.15195/v4.a13



The biological and social costs of body mass cannot be conceptualized in the same way. Using semiparametric methods, we show that the association between body mass index (BMI) and socioeconomic outcomes such as wages, being married, and family income is distinctly shaped by gender, race, and cohort rather than being above a specific threshold of BMI. For white men, the correlation between BMI and outcomes is positive across the “normal” range of BMI and turns negative near the cusp of the overweight range, a pattern that persists across cohorts. For white women, thinner is nearly always better, a pattern that also persists across cohorts. For black men in the 1979 cohort, the association between BMI and wages is positive across the normal and overweight ranges for wages and family income and inverted U–shaped for marriage. For black women in the 1979 cohort, thinner is better for wages and marriage. By the 1997 cohort, however, the negative association between body mass and outcomes dissipates for black Americans but not for white Americans. In the social world, “too fat” is a subjective, contingent, and fluid judgment that differs depending on who is being judged, who does the judging, and the social domain.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Vida Maralani: Department of Sociology, Cornell University
Email: vida.maralani@cornell.edu

Douglas McKee: Department of Sociology, Cornell University
Email: douglas.mckee@cornell.edu

Acknowledgements: We thank Maurice Gesthuizen, Richard Breen, and Jason Fletcher for their comments and suggestions and Sam Stabler, Luke Wagner, Kate Bradley, and Isadora Milanez for providing superb research assistance.

This research uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and 1997, and also data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website (http://www.cpc.unc.edu/addhealth). No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.

  • Citation: Maralani, Vida, and Douglas McKee. 2017. “Obesity Is in the Eye of the Beholder: BMI and Socioeconomic Outcomes across Cohorts.” Sociological Science 4: 288-317.
  • Received: January 30, 2017
  • Accepted: February 27, 2017
  • Editors: Jesper B. Sørensen, Stephen Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v4.a13

Increases in Sex with Same-Sex Partners and Bisexual Identity Across Cohorts of Women (but Not Men)

Paula England, Emma Mishel, Mónica L. Caudillo

Sociological Science, November 7, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a42



We use data from the 2002–2013 National Surveys of Family Growth to examine change across U.S. cohorts born between 1966 and 1995 in whether individuals have had sex with same-sex partners only, or with both men and women, and in whether they have a bisexual or gay identity. Adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, immigrant status, and mother’s education, we find increases across cohorts in the proportion of women who report a bisexual identity, who report ever having had sex with both sexes, or who report having had sex with women only. By contrast, we find no cohort trend for men; roughly 5 percent of men in every cohort have ever had sex with a man, and the proportion claiming a gay or bisexual attraction changed little. We speculate that this gender difference is rooted in a broader pattern of asymmetry in gender change in which departures from traditional gender norms are more acceptable for women than men.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Paula England: Department of Sociology, New York University
Email: Pengland@nyu.edu

Emma Mishel: Department of Sociology, New York University
Email: Emmamishel@nyu.edu

Mónica L. Caudillo: Department of Sociology, New York University
Email: Monica.Caudillo@nyu.edu

Acknowledgements: We are grateful to Gary Gates for helpful comments.

  • Citation: England, Paula, Emma Mishel, and Mónica L. Caudillo. 2016. “Increases in Sex with Same-Sex Partners and Bisexual Identity Across Cohorts of Women (but Not Men).” Sociological Science 3: 951-970.
  • Received: August 2, 2016
  • Accepted: September 25, 2016
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Sarah Soule
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a42

Unequal Hard Times: The Influence of the Great Recession on Gender Bias in Entrepreneurial Financing

Sarah Thébaud, Amanda J. Sharkey

Sociological Science, January 6, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a1


Prior work finds mixed evidence of gender bias in lenders’ willingness to approve loans to entrepreneurs during normal macroeconomic conditions. However, various theories predict that gender bias is more likely to manifest when there is greater uncertainty or when decision-makers’ choices are under greater scrutiny from others. Such conditions characterized the lending market in the recent economic downturn. This article draws on an analysis of panel data from the Kauffman Firm Survey to investigate how the Great Recession affected the gender gap in entrepreneurial access to financing, net of individual and firm-level characteristics. Consistent with predictions, we find that women-led firms were significantly more likely than men-led firms to encounter difficulty in acquiring funding when small-business lending contracted in 2009 and 2010. We assess the consistency of our results with two different theories of bias or discrimination. Our findings shed light on mechanisms that may contribute to disadvantages for women entrepreneurs and, more broadly, highlight how the effects of ascribed status characteristics (e.g., gender) on economic decision-making may vary systematically with macroeconomic conditions.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Sarah Thébaud: Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara.  Email: sthebaud@soc.ucsb.edu.

Amanda J. Sharkey: Booth School of Business, University of Chicago.  Email: sharkey@chicagobooth.edu.

Acknowledgments: This research was supported by a National Science Foundation Fellowship and the Center for the Study of Social Organization at Princeton University. We thank Paul DiMaggio, Heather Haveman, Michael Jensen, Johan Chu, Elizabeth Pontikes, Chris Yenkey, seminar participants at Cornell, the Kauffman Foundation, Princeton, and the University of Michigan, and Deputy Editor Olav Sorenson for helpful comments and feedback.

  • Citation: Thébaud, Sarah and Amanda J. Sharkey. 2016. “Unequal Hard Times: The Influence of the Great Recession on Gender Bias in Entrepreneurial Financing.” Sociological Science 3: 1-31.
  • Received: June 12, 2015.
  • Accepted: August 21, 2015.
  • Editors: Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a1

Gender Differences in the Formation of a Field of Study Choice Set

Sigal Alon, Thomas A. DiPrete

Sociological Science, February 18, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a5


Women now surpass men in overall rates of college graduation in many industrialized countries, but sex segregation in fields of study persists. In a world where gender norms have changed but gender stereotypes remain strong, we argue that men’s and women’s attitudes and orientations toward fields of study in college are less constrained by gendered institutions than is the ranking of these fields. Accordingly, the sex segregation in the broader choice set of majors considered by college applicants may be lower than the sex segregation in their first preference field of study selection. With unique data on the broader set of fields considered by applicants to elite Israeli universities, we find support for this theory. The factors that drive the gender gap in the choice of field of study, in particular labor market earnings, risk aversion, and the sex composition of fields, are weaker in the broad set of choices than in the first choice. The result is less segregation in considered majors than in the first choice and, more broadly, different gender patterns in the decision process for the set of considered majors and for the first choice. We consider the theoretical implications of these results.
Sigal Alon: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Tel Aviv University.  Email: salon1@post.tau.ac.il

Thomas A. DiPrete: Department of Sociology, Columbia University.    Email: tad61@columbia.edu

  • Citation: Alon, Sigal, and Thomas A. Diprete. 2015. “Gender Differences in the Formation of a Field Study Choice Set.” Sociological Science 2: 50-81.
  • Received: July 9, 2014
  • Accepted: September 16, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a5

Job Mobility and the Great Recession: Wage Consequences by Gender and Parenthood

Youngjoo Cha

Sociological Science, May 2, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a12


This study examines how inter-organizational mobility affects earnings inequality based on gender and parenthood under different macroeconomic conditions. Fixed effects regression analysis of Survey of Income and Program Participation data from 2004 to 2012 shows that earnings growth after quitting jobs for work-related reasons (e.g., to improve one’s job situation) is greater for women than for men pre-recession, but the trend is driven by childless women, and mothers of children under six benefit the least among all groups of workers. However, this motherhood wage penalty disappears in the 2008 recession, as a result of the decline of wage returns to mobility for childless women. The analysis also shows that across economic conditions, the rate of layoffs or displacement is higher among men than women, but once laid off, women experience greater earnings losses than men. No motherhood penalty is found for this mobility type. These findings help us understand the longitudinal process by which the motherhood wage penalty is generated, and conditions under which a motherhood-based or gender-based wage gap becomes more pronounced.

Youngjoo Cha: Indiana University. E-mail: cha5@indiana.edu

  • Citation: Cha, Youngjoo. 2014. “Job Mobility and the Great Recession: Wage Consequences by Gender and Parenthood.” Sociological Science 1: 159-177.
  • Received: October 31, 2013
  • Accepted: January 19, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a12

Pathways to Science and Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees for Men and Women

Joscha Legewie, Thomas A. DiPrete

Sociological Science, February 18, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a4


Despite the striking reversal of the gender gap in educational attainment and the near–gender parity in math performance, women pursue science and engineering (S/E) degrees at much lower rates than their male peers do. Current efforts to increase the number of women in these fields focus on different life-course periods but lack a clear understanding of the importance of these periods and how orientations toward S/E fields develop over time. In this article, we examine the gendered pathways to a S/E bachelor’s degree from middle school to high school and college based on a representative sample from the 1973 to 1974 birth cohort. Using a counterfactual decomposition analysis, we determine the relative importance of these different life-course periods and thereby inform the direction of future research and policy. Our findings confirm previous research that highlights the importance of early encouragement for gender differences in S/E degrees, but our findings also attest to the high school years as a decisive period for the gender gap, while challenging the focus on college in research and policy. Indeed, if female high school seniors had the same orientation toward and preparation for S/E fields as their male peers, the gender gap in S/E degrees would be closed by as much as 82 percent.

Joscha Legewie: Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin fur Sozialforschung. E-mail: joscha.legewie@wzb.eu

Thomas A DiPrete: Department of Sociology, Columbia University. E-mail: tad61@columbia.edu

  • Citation: Legewie, Joscha, and Thomas A. DiPrete. 2014. “Pathways to Science and Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees for Men and Women.” Sociological Science 1: 41-48.
  • Received: September 18, 2013
  • Accepted: October 10, 2013
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a4