Gender and Race across the Life Course: the Interplay of Work and Family Trajectories

Speaker: Anette Fasang

Anette Fasang is Professor of Microsociology, Humboldt-University Berlin.

This event is part of our Sociology Seminar Series Abstract: Racial differences in education, employment and earnings are well documented in the United States. At the same time, demographic research persuasively shows more family complexity with a higher incidence of single parenthood and union dissolution among African Americans. This study contributes to the literature with a longitudinal, process oriented life course perspective on intertwined work- and family life courses. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth that covers complete work and family trajectories from ages 22 to 45 two research questions are addressed. First, does access to different typical work-family life courses vary by (the intersection of) gender and race? Using multichannel sequence analysis, I identify seven typical work-family life courses, and show that access to them differs profoundly by race, and to a lesser extent, by gender. Second, does childbearing trigger cumulative advantage or disadvantage in subsequent employment trajectories differentially by gender and race? To answer this research question, the sequence analysis multistate model (SAMM) is introduced that for the first time allows estimating the effect of time-varying covariates on subsequent trajectories of categorical states. Findings indicate that white women have equal chances to combine high stakes careers with a normative family of stable unions and parenthood as white men, which is not the case for either African American women or men. The results inform current debates on the intersectionality of gender and race and underline that combining marriage and parenthood with high prestige careers is still a white privilege for both men and women in the United States.