Ridgeway studies how gender and race create subtle barriers for people in social interactions that affect their efforts to get ahead in life. These subtle biases in judgments about who is able accumulate to create gender and race inequality in the workforce and elsewhere. More generally, she studies how social hierarchies of prominence and influence in everyday social encounters shape inequality in the U. S. and shape social beliefs about how some social groups are higher status than others. Her civic engagements have been with feminist organizations and women’s groups, Democratic Party politics, and the Sierra Club.
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Cecilia L. Ridgeway quoted in Linda Hubbard Gulker, "Sociologist Cecilia Ridgeway Studies Status Hierarchies and How They Impact Our Lives" InMenlo, September 19, 2017.
Cecilia L. Ridgeway quoted on gender stereotypes in academia in Katy Murphy, "Stanford and Other Elite Universities Have a Gender Problem: Too Few Women Professors" Contra Costa Times, February 26, 2016.
"How Easily Does a Social Difference Become a Status Difference? Gender Matters" (with ). American Sociological Review 74, no. 1 (2009): 44-62.
Documents a series of experiments that show that people are quick to transform a social difference into beliefs that one group is not only different, but socially “better” than the other. Once they form these status beliefs, people readily treat others unequally on the basis of them, although men do this a bit more quickly than women.
Framed by Gender: How Gender Inequality Persists in the Modern World (Oxford University Press, 2011).
Identifies general processes through which gender as a principle of inequality rewrites itself into new forms of social and economic organization. People confront uncertain circumstances with gender beliefs that are more traditional than those circumstances. They implicitly draw on the too-convenient cultural frame of gender to help organize new ways of doing things, thereby re-inscribing tailing gender stereotypes into the new activities, procedures, and forms of organizations.
"Class Rules, Status Dynamics, and Gateway Interactions" (with ), in Facing Social Class: Social Psychology of Social Class, edited by Susan T. Fiske and Hazel Rose Markus (Russell Sage, 2012), 131-151.
Discusses how there are “gateways” for advancement in U. S. institutions like schools, workplaces, and health organizations; and how class-based rules for interaction trigger subtle status biases against working class people in their encounters with institutional officials. These biases make it more difficult for working class individuals to achieve positive life outcomes than it is for otherwise similar middle class people.