Ruth Milkman, a professor of sociology at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center and research director at CUNY’s Joseph F. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, has been elected president of the American Sociological Association (ASA). Barbara J. Risman, a professor and head of the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been elected vice president.
“I am humbled, honored, and excited,” said Milkman, who will serve as president-elect for one year before succeeding New York University’s Paula England as ASA president in August 2015. Similarly, Risman will spend one year as vice president-elect before succeeding Arizona State University’s Cecilia Menjívar as vice president. Milkman and Risman began their terms as president-elect and vice president-elect, respectively, in August.
As ASA president, Milkman will chair the 2016 Program Committee that will craft the program for the 2016 ASA Annual Meeting in Seattle. During her term, she hopes to “foster synergies between sociologists and progressive social movements,” citing the women’s, labor, and immigrant rights movements as sources of personal inspiration.
“I would like to explore ways to insert sociologists more effectively into the public conversation, both in specific policy debates as well as in a broader fashion,” Milkman said, adding that such efforts could “introduce valuable new perspectives on the issues of the day to non-academic audiences.” Milkman’s own research has focused on work and organized labor in the U.S.
Before assuming her current position at CUNY in 2010, Milkman taught sociology at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) from 1988-2009. From 2001-2008, she also directed UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Previously, Milkman was in the sociology department at CUNY’s Graduate Center and Queens College. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley.
As vice president, Risman will assist Milkman and oversee the committee charged with nominating ASA officers and council members. In her role as chair of the Nominations Committee, Risman hopes to better integrate historically underrepresented groups into leadership roles in sociology.
“I think it’s important to be sure that when sociological voices are at the table, those voices represent the diversity of sociologists — not only by race and gender, but also from different kinds of institutions, from different regions of the country,” she said.
Before moving to the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2006, Risman, who earned her Ph.D. at the University of Washington, taught sociology from 1984-2005 at North Carolina State University, where she served as founding director of the university’s Women and Gender Studies Program and the sociology department’s director of graduate studies.
During their notable careers, both Milkman and Risman have held a number of leadership positions and have been dedicated to advancing the ASA and the discipline of sociology as a whole.
For example, Milkman has served as the chair of the ASA Section on Labor and Labor Movements and on the editorial boards of several scholarly journals including the Global Labour Journal, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, and ASA’s Contemporary Sociology. In addition, she was a fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute in 2012-2013.
Risman served on ASA’s Council, Program Committee, Publications Committee, and is a past editor of Contemporary Sociology. In 2003, Risman was president of Sociologists for Women in Society and she has served as co-chair and executive officer of the Council on Contemporary Families. Currently, she is president-elect of the Southern Sociological Society.
Both Milkman and Risman have been honored with a number of awards during their distinguished careers. In 2013, Milkman received the Public Understanding of Sociology Award from the ASA. Previously, the American Historical Association awarded her the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize in women’s history for her first book, Gender at Work: The Dynamics of Job Segregation by Sex during World War II. In 2011, Risman received ASA’s Public Understanding of Sociology Award. Earlier, the Southern Sociological Society presented her with the Katherine Jocher-Belle Boone Beard Award for lifetime contributions to the study of gender.
“We are pleased that these talented and renowned scholars will be taking the association’s reins,” said ASA Executive Officer Sally T. Hillsman. “We are excited about where Dr. Milkman and Dr. Risman will take the organization, and we look forward to helping them accomplish their goals.”
About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.
This press release was written by Sydney McKinley, ASA Public Information Office.