American Sociological Association

Sociology PhD Cohort of 1996-97 Study

The Study

This longitudinal project was funded in part by the Sloan Foundation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. The ASA Research Department conducted a longitudinal survey over the course of 10 years to all sociology graduates who received their PhD degrees between July 1, 1996 and August 31, 1997. The first survey was fielded in 1998 as part of a multidisciplinary project coordinated by the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology (CPST) in order to examine the employment market and how new PhDs in 14 scientific fields began their careers. Graduates from all disciplines were asked a series of standardized questions focusing on their job search, early career experiences, and job satisfaction. The ASA survey included additional questions regarding their prior career experiences, professional networks, professional productivity, and work-family issues. This paper-and-pencil survey was sent to the 645 sociology PhD graduates from 1996-97 and 435 responded, resulting in a 72 percent response rate.

After two brief follow-up surveys in 1999 and 2001 that gathered updated contact, demographic and job information, the second major survey of this project was administered in 2003. This online survey was intended to gather information related specifically to the relationship between the use of work-family policies and gaining tenure. In addition to these surveys, a series of focus groups with academic mothers and fathers including non-tenured faculty, tenured faculty, and graduate students were conducted in 2001. These were structured around identifying the institutional resources that had been important to participants, how they used these resources, and what additional strategies and policies they found important.

The final phase of this project included a survey and a set of in-depth interviews, both conducted in 2007. While the second phase of the project focused solely on academics, the primary purpose of this phase was to investigate the relationship between career and family trajectories of PhD sociologists in both academic and nonacademic positions. Significant outreach was done to locate members of this cohort who had dropped out of the survey, and potentially out of the academy, prior to launching the survey. Despite these efforts, the number of respondents to this final survey was 304, about 47 percent of the original cohort.

Analysis from this project can be found in the briefs listed below.

Research Briefs from this Study

Mothers in Pursuit of Ideal Academic Careers

PhDs at Mid-Career: Satisfaction with Work and Family

Resources or Rewards?: The Distribution of Work-Family Policies

The Best Time to Have a Baby: Institutional Resources and Family Strategies among Early Career Sociologists

Gender in the Early Stages of the Sociological Career

New Doctorates in Sociology: Professions Inside and Outside the Academy



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