Barbara Risman

Barbara J. Risman

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago
Chapter Member: Chicagoland SSN

About Barbara

Risman’s teaching and research focuses on women’s status in society, and the changing politics and policies around gender and sexual inequality. Her areas of expertise include work and family policies, changing family roles, the diversity of family structure and the Millennial generation. Risman’s current research looks at how Millennials are adapting to or demanding changes in work, family, and civic society relating to gender diversity. She is currently President of the Board of Directors of the national non-profit organization Council on Contemporary Families, whose mission is to bring new research and clinical information about families, gender, sexualities, and relationships to public conversation and to inform policymakers. She is also currently Vice-President of the American Sociological Association, and President of the Southern Sociological Society.

In the News

Opinion: "How Biden Can Make America More Scientific," Barbara J. Risman, Washington Monthly, January 29, 2021.
Research discussed by Nara Schoenberg, in "Nearly a Quarter of Americans Support Gender Equality at Work or at Home, but Not Both: UIC Study," Chicago Tribune, December 26, 2018.
Opinion: "Babies in the Senate and City Hall," Barbara J. Risman, Psychology Today, June 11, 2018.
Research discussed by Kate Thayer, in "When High-Profile Women Take Short Maternity Leaves, It Sends Mixed Message," Chicago Tribune, May 31, 2018.
Opinion: "Adding Third-Sex Option on Birth Certificates is a Start," Barbara J. Risman (with Georgiann Davis), The Seattle Times, February 11, 2018.
Quoted by Brian Flood in "Are Millennials Gender Rebels or Returning to Tradition?," PhysOrg, January 11, 2018.
Research discussed by Krista Wilson, in "Where Marriage Fits in the Modern World," Spartan News Room, May 8, 2017.
Opinion: "Millennials: Not Pushing the Envelope, Not Rejecting the Gender Revolution," Barbara J. Risman (with William J. Scarborough and Ray Sin), The Society Pages, April 17, 2017.
Quoted by Shaun Dreisbach Glamour, January 2017.
Opinion: "Only Way to Free Us from Bathroom Bullies: Follow Millennials," Barbara J. Risman, The News & Observer, August 2016.
Quoted by Shivani Vora in "North Carolina and Mississippi See Tourist Backlash After L.G.B.T. Laws," New York Times, April 2016.
Quoted by in "How to Stop Sexism at the Ballot Box," Huffington Post, February 2016.
Opinion: "Are Millennials Feminists?," Barbara J. Risman, Chicago Tribune, February 16, 2016.
Quoted by Dawn M. Turner in "When Women Call Themselves the G-Word," Chicago Tribune, October 2015.
Opinion: "Should You Let Your Daughter be a ‘Pink Princess?," Barbara J. Risman (with Shannon Davis), CNN, November 30, 2014.
Research discussed by Erin Hoekstra, in "Stay-at-Home Parenting is on the Rise Because Mothers Can’t Find Work," Pacific Standard, May 30, 2014.
Guest on Wisconsin Public Radio, April 9, 2014.
Quoted by Emily Alpert Reyes in "Men are Stuck in Gender Roles, Data Suggest," Los Angeles Times, December 26, 2013.
Quoted by Emily Alpert Reyes in "Young Women Closing Workplace Gender Gap," Los Angeles Times, December 10, 2013.
Opinion: "Phony ‘Mommy Wars’ Avoid Real Issues for Women," Barbara J. Risman, CNN, April 20, 2012.
Opinion: "Let’s Make a Rule on Sexual Harassment," Barbara J. Risman, CNN, April 20, 2011.


"Feminists Wrestle with Testosterone: Hormones, Socialization and Cultural Interactionism as Predictors of Women’s Gendered Selves" (with Shannon Daivs). Social Science Research 49 (2015): 110-125.

Provides evidence that biological factors provide only weak explanations for women’s adult choices, but that childhood socialization does matter a great deal.

"It Goes Hand in Hand with the Parties: Race, Class and Residence in College Student Negotiations of Hooking Up" (with Rachel Allison). Sociological Perspective 57, no. 1 (2014): 102-123.

Suggests that the focus on student hooking up culture overlooks how narrow the population is that typifies this young adult lifestyle.  Discusses how hooking up is a pattern among mostly white middle class students who live at residential colleges. Argues that working class and students of color  perceive hooking up  as one more privilege denied to them.

"Gender Vertigo: American Families in Transition" (Yale University Press, 1998).

Looks at the changing gender patterns among American families with attention primarily to dual-career couples, and single parents, with comparison of single fathers and mothers. Suggests that nurturing is not necessarily tied to sex of the parent.