Risman’s teaching and research focuses on women’s status in society, and the changing politics and policies around gender and sexual inequality. Her areas of expertise include work and family policies, changing family roles, the diversity of family structure and the Millennial generation. Risman’s current research looks at how Millennials adapting to or demanding changes in work, family, and civic society relating to gender diversity. She is currently President of the Board of Director sof the national non-profit organization Council on Contemporary Families, whose mission is to bring new research and clinical information about families, gender, sexualities, and relationships to public conversation and to inform policymakers. She is also currently Vice-President of the American Sociological Association, and President of the Southern Sociological Society.
Presents theoretical argument that we should conceptualize gender as a social structure, with a differentiation between the material and the cultural dimension at each level of the gender structure.
Examines social justice within Universities.
Examines whether the sex ratio of the student body of a college or university affects whether heterosexual students hook up, have relationships, have intercourse, or have attitudes favorable toward casual sex.
Looks at the changing gender patterns among American families with attention primarily to dual-career couples, and single parents, with comparison of single fathers and mothers. Suggests that nurturing is not necessarily tied to sex of the parent.
Suggests that the focus on student hooking up culture overlooks how narrow the population is that typifies this young adult lifestyle. Discusses how hooking up is a pattern among mostly white middle class students who live at residential colleges. Argues that working class and students of color perceive hooking up as one more privilege denied to them.
Provides evidence that biological factors provide only weak explanations for women’s adult choices, but that childhood socialization does matter a great deal.