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  1. Do Highly Paid, Highly Skilled Women Experience the Largest Motherhood Penalty?

    Motherhood reduces women’s wages. But does the size of this penalty differ between more and less advantaged women? To answer this, we use unconditional quantile regression models with person-fixed effects, and panel data from the 1979 to 2010 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79). We find that among white women, the most privileged—women with high skills and high wages—experience the highest total penalties, estimated to include effects mediated through lost experience.

  2. Fitting In or Standing Out? The Tradeoffs of Structural and Cultural Embeddedness

    A recurring theme in sociological research is the tradeoff between fitting in and standing out. Prior work examining this tension tends to take either a structural or a cultural perspective. We fuse these two traditions to develop a theory of how structural and cultural embeddedness jointly relate to individual attainment within organizations. Given that organizational culture is hard to observe, we develop a novel approach to assessing individuals’ cultural fit with their colleagues based on the language expressed in internal e-mail communications.

  3. The Privatization of Political Representation: Community-Based Organizations as Nonelected Neighborhood Representatives

    In an era of public-private partnerships, what role do nonprofit community-based organizations (CBOs) play in urban governance? Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Boston, this article presents a new way to understand CBOs’ political role in poor neighborhoods: CBOs as nonelected neighborhood representatives. Over the course of four years, I followed nine CBOs in six Boston neighborhoods as they planned community development projects. The CBOs in my study superseded elected politicians as the legitimate representatives of poor urban neighborhoods.

  4. Blue-Collar Training in High School Leaves Women Behind

    What’s the best way to prepare high schoolers for jobs in the 21st century? Education leaders and the general public have been debating this question with more heat in recent years, clashing over whether to focus on college preparation or vocational training, especially training linked to blue-collar jobs.

  5. Health Insurance Status and Symptoms of Psychological Distress among Low-income Urban Women

    Although numerous studies have considered the effects of having health insurance on access to health care, physical health, and mortality risk, the association between insurance coverage and mental health has been surprisingly understudied. Building on previous work, we use data collected from a two-year follow-up of low-income women living in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio to estimate a series of latent fixed-effects regression models assessing the association between insurance status and symptoms of psychological distress.

  6. America's Biggest Secret or Life in a Culture of Pay Secrecy?

    My eight-year-old daughter received the classic Hasbro Game of Life as a holiday gift this past year.  What caught my attention right away while playing the game with her were the salaries.

  7. “We Must Be out of That”

    Drawing from ethnographic data gathered in a large U.S. supermarket, the author develops the concept of deflective labor to further our understanding of customer service work as more than providing service to the customer. In an effort to maintain dignity on the shop floor, workers learned to simultaneously deflect and fulfill customer service inquiries. Rather than viewing deflection as the logical conclusion of a low-skilled workforce, positing deflective labor as an actual form of assistance allows us to better understand the realities of interactive service work.

  8. Fall 2016 Contexts online free until January 31

    Letter from the Editors

    Trumped

  9. Class Advantage, Commitment Penalty: The Gendered Effect of Social Class Signals in an Elite Labor Market

    Research on the mechanisms that reproduce social class advantages in the United States focuses primarily on formal schooling and pays less attention to social class discrimination in labor markets. We conducted a résumé audit study to examine the effect of social class signals on entry into large U.S. law firms. We sent applications from fictitious students at selective but non-elite law schools to 316 law firm offices in 14 cities, randomly assigning signals of social class background and gender to otherwise identical résumés.

  10. Sexual Orientation in the Labor Market

    Most analyses of sexual orientation and earnings find that gay men face a wage gap, whereas lesbian women earn higher wages than similar heterosexual women. However, analyses rarely consider bisexual men and women as a unique group separate from other sexual minorities. I argue that such binary views of sexual orientation—treating sexual minorities as a homogenous non-heterosexual group—have obscured understandings of the impact of sexual orientation on labor market outcomes.