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Bio of Rosanna Hertz



Rosanna Hertz is the Classes of 1919-1950 Professor of Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies at Wellesley College where she has taught since 1983.   She chaired the Women's Studies Department from 2000-2008. 

She is the current president (2009-2010) of the Eastern Sociological Society, the oldest regional association of sociology. The theme she has selected for this year's meeting is "The Economic Crisis and New Social Realities" which will be held in March 2010.   She has also been elected to the American Sociological Association's Council from 2009-2011.

She is presently the co-director of a newly formed Institute on Gender and the New Global Economy and a research scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women.  Her scholarship focuses on diverse families in a changing economy and how social inequality at home and in the workplace comes to shape the experiences of women and men. She is interested in how people weave together a life on their own, despite lack of government or workplace supports.  Her present research examines how the media portrays unemployment in the U.S. and Canada.   She is also completing a study of the interplay of genetics, social interaction, and culture expectations in the formation of web-based donorsibling kin groups.

Her  book, Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice: How Women Are Choosing Parenthood without Marriage and Creating the New American Family (Oxford University Press, 2006) looks at the changes occurring in  women’s lives. As hopes for marriage fade for middle class women, their commitment to motherhood continues. The potent combination of the age-old desire for motherhood and the new possibilities of science are well on their way to creating major changes in the formation and functioning of families. This is a projection of a possible future, one that reevaluates the place of women and men in families. Ultimately, building families from a mother-child core is the future. The book was named Outstanding Academic Title for 2007 by Choice, the review publication for academic libraries. In addition, Single by Chance was a finalist for the prestigious 2006 C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems. The award honors writing that “critically addresses an issue of contemporary public importance.” For more information about this book, see rosannahertz.com.

In her groundbreaking 1986 book, More Equal Than Others: Women and Men in Dual-Career Marriages, she provided an early framework for examining the dual-earner marriage. Using in-depth interviews with a select group of middle level employees she examined how couples cope with issues of equality, finances and childrearing. She found that when faced with the choice between demanding relief from inflexible work schedules from their employers and purchasing services to substitute for "homemade" originals, dual-earner couples almost invariably meet the demands of employment. The New York Times praised the book for the “sober and informative” analysis it provided in what is often a controversial topic.

Two earlier empirical studies featured equally penetrating analyses of the interaction between the social organization of family life and the demands of the external economy. The first study (co-authored with Joy Charlton) looked at how working class families whose members live on different shifts stitch together the fragments of their lives to make something whole as time. Of added interest was the context for the shiftwork: military bases, which were among the first to integrate enlisted women into this combat career field.

The second study focused on the dynamics of care and kinship. Hertz interviewed couples of different social classes and racial groups about how they made the decisions about childcare arrangements in order to better understand how ideological beliefs about parenthood, racial concerns about minority status of children and work schedules are factors that inform parents’ decisions. See her home page in the Women’s Studies Department for selected articles.

Hertz teaches courses on the changing family and social policy, the social construction of gender, and women and the global economy.  She has had a long-standing interest in social science methodology, which she has incorporated into an interdisciplinary course, “The Feminist Inquiry.”

She received a B.A. at Brandeis University in sociology and philosophy and an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University. In addition, she completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Recently she has published articles in the Christian Science Monitor and the Huffington Post. She has been quoted in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Boston Globe. She appears frequently in the broadcast media commenting on social problems for local news specials.

For recent scholarly articles see Hertz' faculty page in the Wellesley College Women's Studies Department website.