Shames’ primary area of academic interest is American political behavior, with a focus on race, gender, and politics. For her dissertation research, she has been conducting and analyzing data from an original survey and a set of in-depth interviews about potential candidates' expectations about politics, political campaigns, and serving in elective office. Shames has published articles, reports, and book chapters on women as candidates, black women in Congress, comparative child care policy, work/family conflict, abortion, feminism in the U.S. and internationally, gay and lesbian rights, and U.S. public opinion. In addition, she has designed and taught courses (as an instructor and as a teaching fellow/assistant) on race, class, gender, American politics, women's studies, the history of feminism, freshman writing, and futuristic fiction, and has lectured widely on gender, race, and politics. She has worked for multiple nonprofit and foundation groups relating to women and politics, including NOW, the White House Project, the Salzburg Global Seminar, and the Parity Project of the Hunt Alternatives Fund.
Draws from extensive research with graduate students in elite institutions that have historically been a direct link for their graduates into state or federal elected office to ask if millennials are as uninterested in political issues and the future of the American political system as the media suggests. Finds that they are not uninterested; rather, they do not believe that a career in politics is the best way to create change.