Caitlyn Collins

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Washington University in St. Louis
Areas of Expertise:
  • Policy in Other Countries
  • Family Policies
  • Inequality & the Middle Class
  • Children & Families
  • Women

Connect with Caitlyn

About Caitlyn

Collins researches gender dynamics at work and in family life, and is interested in the role of social policy in reducing gender, race, and class inequalities. Her current research explores the experiences of working mothers in different western countries, and the role of work-family policies in shaping the barriers and opportunities women face while working and raising children. She is a member of the Work and Family Researchers Network, Sociologists for Women in Society, and the Council for Contemporary Families—national organizations that advocate for American women and their families.



"A Proposal for Public Sociology as Localized Intervention and Collective Enterprise: The Makings and Impact of Invisible in Austin" (with Javier Auyero and Katherine Jensen). Qualitative Sociology 40, no. 2 (2017): 191-214.

Tracks the origins, makings and impacts of the book Invisible in Austin to evaluate its model of public sociology: as a collective enterprise with a local aim. Concludes with three suggestions: to approach public sociology as collective enterprise, to take narrative seriously, and to seek wide exposure.

"Higher-Status Occupations and Breast Cancer: A Life-Course Stress Approach" (with Tetyana Pudrovska, Deborah Carr, and Michael McFarland). Social Science & Medicine 89 (2013): 53-61.

Shows how women in higher-status occupations who exercise authority on the job have a higher risk of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis than housewives and women in lower-status occupations. This suggests that there are negative health consequences to gender inequality in workplaces.

"Altruistic Agencies and Compassionate Consumers: Moral Framing of Transnational Surrogacy" (with Sharmila Rudrappa). Gender & Society 29, no. 6 (2015): 937-959.

Documents the ways in which transnational surrogacy in India persists and thrives despite its common portrayal as the “rent-a-womb industry” and “baby factory.”

"The Difference between a Cocktail Waitress and a Stripper? Two Weeks" in Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City, edited by Javier Auyero (University of Texas Press, 2015), 115-137.

Details the life of a 23-year-old woman working to survive in Austin, Texas as a waitress and exotic dancer, and presses readers to consider issues of coercion and consent for women in service sector work.

Impossible Ideals: How Women Work and Care in Europe and America (Princeton University Press, forthcoming).

Shows how public policies and cultural attitudes intersect in the lives of working mothers to shape their experiences working and childrearing in Sweden, Germany, Italy, and the United States. Mothers in the U.S. fare worst.

"Effects of Work-Family Policies on Parenthood and Wellbeing" (with Jennifer Glass), in Handbook of Child and Family Policy, edited by Guðný Björk Eydal and Tine Rostgaard (Edward Elgar, forthcoming).

Discusses how state-provided public policies supporting families help reduce the gap in wellbeing between parents and non-parents across industrialized countries.

"A Proposal for Public Sociology as Localized Intervention and Collective Enterprise: The Makings and Impact of 'Invisible in Austin'" (with Katherine Jensen and Javier Auyero). Qualitative Sociology 40, no. 2 (2017): 191-214.

Discusses how scholars can intervene effectively and widely in the local public sphere with their research.

In the News

Guest to discuss American labor on Writing on the Air, Caitlyn Collins, October 11, 2015.
Caitlyn Collins's research on paid family leave policies in the United States discussed in Cara BirnbaumCaitlyn Collins, "Is Work-Life Balance for Moms Total BS?," Parents, August 1, 2016.
Caitlyn Collins quoted on the American bias that 'valorizes work and the ideal worker image' in Emily L. Hauser, "Of Course Hillary Clinton Went to Work Sick. That’s the American Way" The Washington Post, September 15, 2016.
"In Germany, Parents Can Sue the Government for Failing to Provide Child Care," Caitlyn Collins, The Atlantic, January 10, 2017.