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Research Projects

Project 1: Women in Engineering

With collaborators Dr. Jennifer DeBoer (Purdue University), Dr. Nehal Abu-Lail (UT-San Antonio), and Dr. Ashley Ater Kranov (WSU), I am conducting research in three countries (Jordan, Malaysia, and Tunisia) to assess the contextual factors that encourage women’s participation in engineering in tertiary education and as a career.  In these countries, women’s participation in engineering is much higher than in the US.  We seek to understand the links between cultural context and expanding women’s STEM participation by studying the economic, educational, socio-cultural, legal, and political drivers of women’s participation in these contexts.

We apply case study methods to collect  data from focus groups and in-depth interviews in each country with female engineering undergraduate students, faculty members, and practicing engineers. The research is significant because it promises to document factors that encourage women’s successful participation in STEM in social, political, and cultural contexts that are very different from the US. With its cross-national, in-depth exploration of women’s curricular and career choices and its attention to mechanisms producing gender-differentiated curricular and career decisions, this project promises to shed light more generally on how context shapes women’s successful participation in STEM in ways that inform our efforts to broaden participation in the US.

Related Publications

Project 2: Work & Family

With Dr. Lindsey Trimble-O’Connor, I am using survey-experimental data to understand how cultural understandings of work and gender (e.g., ideal worker norms, gender norms, and the one-way honor system) shape response to workplace discrimination. In particular, whether adherence to these cultural understandings are connected to whether and how a person labels an illegal act of workplace family responsibility discrimination (FRD) and whether the labeling of an act as FRD depends on the race, class, and sex of the victim.

In collaboration with Dr. Leah Sheppard and two graduate students, I am exploring the reasons for women’s under-representation in upper management.  We are studying women’s workplace and household management styles, with a focus on whether daily management styles in one domain are related to daily management styles in the other, whether this is moderated by participant gender, and how this relates to various outcomes. We are using experience sampling methodology to collect daily reports of women’s and men’s workplace/household management behaviors, emotional exhaustion, life/job satisfaction, and perceived domain performance.

With colleagues Dr. David Brady and Dr. Agnes Blome, I have explored the impact of state sponsored work-family reconciliation policies on labor market outcomes for women and, in particular, mothers. We drew on LIS data to explore the relationship between gender and parental status and outcomes such as being employed full time, working in a lucrative occupation, and occupational sex composition.

Related publications:

O’Connor, Lindsey and Julie A. Kmec. 2020. Is It Discrimination, or Fair and Deserved? How Beliefs about Work, Family, and Gender Shape Recognition of Family Responsibilities Discrimination. Sociology Currents LINK

Brady, David, Agnes Blome, and Julie A. Kmec. 2019. “Work-Family Reconciliation Policies and Women’s and Mother’s Labor Market Outcomes in Rich Democracies.” Socioeconomic Review. LINK

Project 3: Dual Career Academics

With a team of WSU researchers (including past graduate students Dr. Sarah Morton and Dr. Hong Zhang), I  surveyed tenure and non-tenure track faculty at seven institutions of higher education in the U.S. to identify their experiences as dual-career academic couples. Read the blog post about our work.

Related Publications:

Zhang, Hong, Julie A. Kmec, Tori Byington. 2019. “Gendered Career Decisions in the Academy: Job Refusal and Job Departure Intentions among Academic Dual-Career Couples.” Review of Higher Education.

Zhang, Hong and Julie A. Kmec 2018. “Non-normative Connections between Work and Family: The Gendered Career Consequences of Being a Dual-career Academic.” Sociological Perspectives LINK

Morton, Sarah, and Julie A. Kmec. 2017. “Gender Penalties for Risk-Taking in the Job Attainment Process.” Journal of Risk Research LINK