Ruth Milkman (1975)

Professor of Sociology, Graduate Center, City University of New York

For me, becoming a sociologist was from the outset linked to a commitment to social change. I was attracted to the Berkeley department because I presumed that it would be hospitable to that orientation, and that indeed proved to be the case, if not always in exactly the ways I had expected. As a student my intellectual agenda was driven by feminism and Marxism; only much later did I develop an appreciation of sociology as a discipline. In fact, despite a very privileged employment history - at UCLA from 1988 to 2009, and before and after that at CUNY (from 1982 to 1988 and again since January 2010), for many years I felt deeply alienated from the profession. That began to change in the late 1990s, thanks to the revival of labor sociology, which has long been the focus of my own research and writing. I started off studying job segregation by gender and U.S. women's labor history; later turned to examine the transformation of factory work and industrial unionism in the late twentieth century, and more recently have written about contemporary labor organizing among Latino immigrants. From 2000 to 2008 I directed the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (and for the first few years led a similar UC statewide unit as well), which seeks to link the university and the labor movement. Since returning to New York in early 2010, I have been affiliated with CUNY's Murphy Labor Institute (along with a faculty appointment in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center). These positions have provided me with extraordinary opportunities to pursue the intellectual and political concerns that have engaged me ever since I was a student at Berkeley.

Dissertation Title: 
The Reproduction of Job Segregation by Sex: A Study of the Changing Sexual Division of Labor in the Electrical Manufacturing Industries in the 1940's.
Dissertation Book Title: 
Gender at work : the dynamics of job segregation by sex during World War II