Gerstel

Naomi Gerstel

Distinguished University Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Areas of Expertise:
  • Family Policies
  • Women
  • Jobs & Workers

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About Naomi

Gerstel studies marriage, families, and work. She has spent recent years researching inequalities in job hours and schedules, addressing the limits of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the greediness of marriage and work, extended families, and most recently the unequal involvement of families in the lives of undergraduates. Unequal Time, (co-authored with Dan Clawson) is her recent award winning book that discusses the ways control over time is necessary for managing pervasive unpredictability, keeping a job and raising a family. But time, as well as control over it, are unequally distributed and determined to a significant degree by gender and class.

Podcast

Publications

Nuclear Family Values, Extended Family Lives: The Power of Race, Class, and Gender (with Natalia Sarkisian) (Routledge Press, 2012).
Discusses the growing importance of extended kinship, especially among women and men of color with few economic resources. Suggests the iconic status of nuclear families—mothers, fathers, young children-- in the press and public policy is a narrow, biased view that misses much of family life, especially the family experiences of women, racial/ethnic minorities, low wage workers and the poor for whom extended families are centrally important.
"Workplace Compliance With the Law: The Case of the Family and Medical Leave Act" (with Amy Armenia and Coady Wing). Work and Occupations 41, no. 3 (2014): 277-304.
Analyzes low rates of compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and argues progress depends on revising, monitoring and enforcing the current law.
"Class Advantage and the Gender Divide: Flexibility on the Job and at Home" (with Dan Clawson). American Journal of Sociology 120, no. 2 (2014): 395-431.
Argues that those in class advantaged occupations obtain flexibility but use it in conventionally gendered ways while those in disadvantaged occupations gain little employee-based flexibility and, as a result, have more difficulty meeting conventional gendered expectations.
Unequal Time: Gender, Class, and Families in Employment Schedules (with Dan Clawson) (Russell Sage Foundation, 2014).
Explores inequalities in work hours and schedules and the processes by which work time is mandated, negotiated, accepted and contested. Discusses normal unpredictability and flexibility and the web of time in which the schedules of one person shape the schedules of others in ways that exemplify and often exacerbate differences between men and women, the privileged and disadvantaged.
"Marriage and Social Connections: Building Block or Retreat?" (with Natalia Sarkisian). Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (2015).
Argues marriage is a greedy institution by showing that single individuals are more likely to stay in touch with, provide help to, and receive help from parents, siblings, neighbors, and friends than the married. Suggests policy should acknowledge the social constraints associated with marriage and recognize that single individuals have greater involvement with the broader community.
"Normal Unpredictability and the Chaos in Our Lives" Contexts 14, no. 4 (2015): 64-66.

Discusses the chaos and hardship in so many people’s lives that results not just from the hours they work but from the unpredictability of those hour and the inability to control them.

In the News

Naomi Gerstel's research on Erin BrodwinNaomi Gerstel, "It's Better to be Single, According to Science," Business Insider, February 9, 2018.
Naomi Gerstel's research on Jade HaydenNaomi Gerstel, "Being Single Makes Your Happier, According to Science," Her, February 14, 2018.
"'Flexible' Schedules Aren’t Flexible at All. Let’s End the Always-on-Call Work Day," Naomi Gerstel (with Dan Clawson), The Guardian, September 15, 2014.
Naomi Gerstel's research on social inequalities in the workplace discussed in Miriam Zoila PerezNaomi Gerstel, "A New Labor Issue: Control over Time," Colorlines, October 16, 2014.
"Is Health Care Just Another Chaotic, Low-wage Job?," Naomi Gerstel, Interview with Seth Freed Wessler, NBC: In Plain Sight, October 8, 2014.
"Unpredictable Schedules Inflicted on Workers are Wrecking People’s Lives," Naomi Gerstel (with Dan Clawson), American Prospect, October 10, 2014.
"Making Them Choose: Life without Paid Sick Leave in Massachusetts," Naomi Gerstel (with Dan Clawson), NPR: Cognoscenti, October 14, 2014.
Naomi Gerstel's research on flexible scheduling discussed in Michelle ChenNaomi Gerstel, "When the Workday Never Really Ends," The Nation, October 15, 2014.
Naomi Gerstel's research on the clash of childcare and work scheduling discussed in Jessica GroseNaomi Gerstel, "A New Book Confirms That Male Doctors Have It Really Good.," Slate, October 15, 2014.
Naomi Gerstel's research on flexible scheduling discussed in Michelle ChenNaomi Gerstel, "When the Workday Never Really Ends," Bill Moyers, October 16, 2014.
Naomi Gerstel's research on hazardous work schedules discussed in "Who Controls Your Work Time?," RWJF Human Capital Blog, November 7, 2014.
"America Deserves a Vacation," Naomi Gerstel (with Dan Clawson), MSNBC, December 22, 2014.
"Rebranding ‘Flexibility’," Naomi Gerstel (with Dan Clawson), Huffington Post, November 26, 2014.