Gender Structure Book
While the study of gender has become legitimate and even central to the field of sociology, the conceptualization of the term “gender” remains remarkably vague and disputed. In this book, Professor Risman traces the history of ideas and development of the use of gender in sociological theory, and analysis. She then offers her own feminist theory of gender as a social structure. The book provides elaboration of how gender is constructed and sometimes deconstructed at the individual, interactional and institutional levels. By reviewing the articles and projects which have used her theory, Professor Risman revises her argument about how social change towards gender equality might effectively occur. She ends with a utopian vision for a society that has moved beyond gender.
Feminists Wrestle with Testosterone
In a research study co-authored with Shannon Davis, Professor Risman is re-analyzing data which suggests “biological constraints on gender.” This analysis uses longitudinal quantitative data to assess the relative causal impact of hormones experienced in utero, remembered parental socialization, and the demand characteristics of adult social roles on women's self-reported sense of personality traits such as aggressiveness, nurturance, and ambition (e.g. usually labeled femininity and masculinity). While the authores predicted immediate life factors would be the most powerful, childhood socialization effects are most predictive of current self-reports of gendered personality taits. There remains a small but statistical effect of hormones in utero on self-reports of adult women. The research was discussed in a panel on Gender and Biology at the 2011 meetings of the American Sociological Association.
Professor Risman has a current research project collaborating with three graduate students and a group of undergraduates to investigate the college “hook up” culture. While recent studies document the emergence of hooking up as a new sexual script among college students, most of the research is based on white middle-class students at residential universities. Dr. Risman broadens this research with her study on a diverse group of undergraduates at UIC, an urban campus where more than half the students commute. In 2008, Dr. Risman brought the Online College Social Life Survey (OCSLS) led by NYU Professor Paula England, a national investigation of collegiate social life, to UIC. The quantitative data collection is complete with over two thousand students participating. The next prase of the research, in collaboration with her research assistant Rachel Allison, has been to conduct semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 76 undergraduates. The most recent phase of the project, in collaboration with graduate students Amanda Stewart and Ray Sin has targeted undergraduates who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer for in-depth interviews. To date, over 100 total interviews have been conducted. Analysis is now proceeding. The first paper explores sexual attitudes among the national OCSLS sample, with a particular interest in whether participating in mainstream campus organizations such as Greek life or varsity athletics creates social networks that influence attitudes towards, and experiences with, hooking up. The second paper currently under process relys on mixed qualitative and quantitative data to understand the diversity of women’s sexual attitudes and experiences across class backgrounds and racial identities. Future work aims to spotlight the sexual experiences of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer young adults. The project is on-going.
Download Barbara's CV here: RismanCV
Research Interests: Gender Inequality, Families, Feminist Activism, and Public Sociology
Risman. 2011. “Gender as Structure or Trump Card?” Journal of Family Theory & Review 3:1.
Risman, Barbara J. (Ed.) 2010. Families as They Really Are. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
2010 Risman, Barbara J. and Elizabeth Seale. "Betwixt and Between: Gender Contradictions in Middle School." In Families as They Really Are, edited by B Risman. New York, NY: Norton Publishers.
Risman, Barbara J. 2009. "From Doing to Undoing: Gender as We Know It." Gender & Society 23:1.
Risman, Barbara. 2006. “Feminist Strategies for Public Sociology:” In Public Sociologies Reader, edited by Judith Blau and Keri Lyall Smith. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Risman, Barbara J. 2004. "Gender as a Social Structure: Theory Wrestling with Activism." Gender & Society.
Risman, Barbara J., and Pepper Schwartz. 2002. “After the Sexual Revolution: Gender Politics in Teen Dating,” Contexts 1:1.
Reprinted in Sciences Humaines, Sept. 2002 (France).
Risman, Barbara J. 1998. Gender Vertigo: American Families in Transition. Yale University Press.