Shifting Gender Boundaries: Women' s Inroads into Academic Sociology

Patricia A. Roos, Katharine W. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Using a queuing framework, the authors investigate explanations for women' s inroads into academic sociology since 1970. Women' s entry has occurred most dramatically among sociology doctorates, with women now representing about half of all those awarded PhDs. Access to faculty positions has been more modest: Approximately one in four faculty members are currently women. From a systematic review of research on women' s achievements in sociology, publications produced by sociology' s professional association, and other statistical sources, the authors focus on three major explanations for women' s increased access to academic sociology. First, men eschewed graduate training in sociology as research and development funding dropped, real earnings declined, and the academic labor market contracted. Second, in the 1970s academic employers increasingly turned to women, in part because of the salience of anti-discrimination legislation and also because women sociologists generated pressure for change. Third, women themselves increasingly chose graduate training in sociology because sociology' s subject matter lent itself to the inclusion of issues central to their lives. Although the numbers studying for advanced degrees in sociology (and the number of sociology PhDs) are once again increasing, it is too early to tell whether women will make further inroads, or whether their numbers will remain stable or decline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-428
Number of pages34
JournalWork and Occupations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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