Erin Cech

Areas of Interest: 
 Social Inequalities, Gender, Sexuality, Cultural Sociology, Work and Occupations, Science and Technology Studies, Mixed Methods

Erin Cech joined the sociology department as an Assistant Professor in 2012. She was recently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University and earned her Ph.D. in Sociology in 2011 from the University of California, San Diego.  She earned undergraduate degrees in Electrical Engineering and Sociology from Montana State University. 

Cech's research examines cultural mechanisms of inequality reproduction--specifically, how inequality is reproduced through processes that are not overtly discriminatory or coercive, but rather those that are built into seemingly innocuous cultural beliefs and practices. She investigates this puzzle through three streams of research. First, she uses quantitative and qualitative approaches to examine inequality in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professions-specifically, the recruitment and retention of women, LGBT, and under-represented racial/ethnic minority students and practitioners and the role of professional cultures in this inequality.   Second, Cech examines how cultural definitions of “good work” and “good workers” can anchor inequality in the workforce.  For example, she examines what she calls the "self-expressive edge" of occupational sex segregation: how the seemingly voluntary and self-expressive-yet culturally and structurally informed-decisions of men and women reproduce occupational sex segregation.  Finally, she studies how cultural understandings of the extent and origin of inequality helps to uphold unequal social structures.  Cech is a member of the editorial board of the American Sociological Review and her research has been cited in The New York Times, TheGuardian, Chronicle of Higher Education, Huffington Post and the news sections of Science and Nature.  

Select Publications  

Cech, Erin A. Forthcoming. “Mechanism or Myth? Family Plans and the Reproduction of Occupational Gender Segregation.”  Gender & Society. 

Cech, Erin A. 2015. “Engineers & Engineeresses? Self-Conceptions and the Gendered Development of Professional Identities.” Sociological Perspectives. Vol. 58(1): 56-77.

Cech, Erin A. and Mary Blair-Loy. (2014). "Consequences of Flexibility Stigma among Science and Engineering Faculty." Work and Occupations. Vol. 41(1):86-110. [link]

Cech, Erin A. (2014). "Culture of Disengagement in Engineering Education?" Science, Technology & Human Values. Vol. 39(1): 42-72. [link]

Cech, Erin A. (2013). "The Self-Expressive Edge of Occupational Sex Segregation." American Journal of Sociology. Vol. 119(3):747-89  [link]

Cech, Erin A. (2013). "Ideological Wage Inequalities? The Technical/Social Dualism and the Gender Wage Gap in Engineering." Social Forces. Vol. 91(4):1147-1182. [link]

Cech, Erin A. and Tom J. Waidzunas. (2011). "Navigating the Heteronormativity of Engineering: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Students." Engineering Studies, Vol. 3(1): 1-24. [link]

Cech, Erin, Brian Rubineau, Susan Silbey, and Carroll Seron. (2011). "Professional Role Confidence and Gendered Persistence in Engineering." American Sociological Review, Vol.76(5): 641-66. [link]

Cech, Erin A. and Mary Blair-Loy. (2010). "Perceiving Glass Ceilings? Meritocratic versus Structural Explanations of Gender Inequality among Women in Science and Technology." Social Problems, 57(3): 371-397. [link]  

Invited Comment

Cech, Erin A. 2014. “Embed social awareness in science curricula.” Nature, Vol. 505(7484):477-8. [link]  

External Research Support

National Science Foundation (PI)   
ERC Core Research: “
Collaborative Research: A Study of Interactional, Organizational and Professional Mechanisms of Disadvantage in the Underrepresented and Marginalized STEM Workforce.” PI at Temple University:  Tom Waidzunas (Awarded Sept 2015) -- $932,628  

National Science Foundation (PI)    
GSE Grant: “
The Price of Parenting in STEM: Explaining Career Paths and Pay Consequences of Parenthood among Science and Engineering Professionals.” Co-PI: Mary Blair-Loy. (Awarded Sept 2015) -- $396,639  

National Science Foundation (Co-PI)  
EAGER Grant: “
EAGER: Promoting LGBTQ Equality in Engineering through Virtual Communities of Practice.” PI: Stephanie Farrell (Awarded July 2015) -- $299,998  

National Science Foundation (Co-PI)   PAID-Research Grant: “Divergent Trajectories: A Longitudinal Study of Organizational and Departmental Factors Leading to Gender and Race Differences in STEM Faculty Advancement, Pay, and Prestige.” PI: Mary Blair-Loy (Awarded Sept 2011) -- $554,231  

National Science Foundation (Co-PI) 
Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, Sociology Program “
Individual Beliefs and Occupational Sex Segregation.” (Awarded May 2010) -- $6,796   





Erin Cech
Assistant Professor Ph.D., University of California, San Diego

Sewall Hall 586
713 348-3242