Top Earners in the U.S.
My current book project presents an insider’s look at the inner workings of the notoriously rich and secretive hedge fund industry. Hedge funds comprise one of the most lucrative and powerful industries in the U.S. The average pay at hedge funds falls well above the top one percent of earners. Like other high-paying work, women and minority men are underrepresented. Firms managed by white men manage the vast majority—97 percent—of hedge fund investments. I investigate the deep and often-hidden mechanisms preventing women and racial and ethnic minority men from gaining equal access to this wealth.
I have a project in its early stages comparing hedge fund, venture capital, and information technology firms. Finance and technology have distinct cultures and unprecedented access to capital. Venture capital provides a link for the flow of information and practices across the two sectors. All three fields have low numbers of people of color and white women in leadership positions. I will compare the social organization of the three fields to understand why.
The Financial Sector
Dr. Ken-Hou Lin and I have written book about how growth in the financial sector is a fundamental cause of rising income and wealth inequality in the U.S. The U.S. financial sector has increased in size and complexity over the past 40 years. We identify how the expansion of the financial sector is a fundamental cause of rising income and wealth inequality. Using both quantitative and qualitative evidence, we document the ascendance of finance in three seemingly separate spheres of American society: Wall Street, Main Street, and households. We provide compelling evidence of how finance has widened the uneven distribution of resources according to gender, race, and social class status.
Gender in the New Economy
Dr. Christine Williams and I investigate how precarious working conditions exacerbate gender inequality in the new economy. Over the past 30 years, structural changes to the economy—such as globalization, deregulation, and the decline of unions—have made employment more precarious, unstable, and insecure for workers. In one publication, we consider how the rise of precarious working conditions impacts on men and women, with attention to the implications for gender inequality. In a second piece, we examine gender, feminist activism, and inequality in today’s economy.
Gender in Politics
Another strand of my research examines how gender impacts the careers of women political leaders. My master’s thesis, “Nine Women World Leaders: Sexism on the Path to Power,” explores women presidents and prime ministers’ paths to executive office.
My work has been featured in the American Sociological Association's Work in Progress: Sociology on the Economy, Work, and Inequality blog, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research's Gender News, the Economic Sociology and Political Economy blog, the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice's Human Rights Working Paper Series blog , and the UT Austin Soc graduate student blog.