Sarah Knapp Damaske ’99, a sociologist specializing in gender, work-family, class and race, was recently featured in an article on The Society Pages (TSP), where she responded to a column by George Will.

In his column, Will posited that “social science offers sobering evidence that family structure accounts for poor school performance.” Damaske countered this claim in an interview with sociologist Virigina Rutter. She explained, “One of the fundamental pieces of the picture that Will leaves out of this analysis is how we fund our public schools in the United States. This is important because funding structures—not family structures—are key to understanding ways to address and reduce inequality. But we fund schools using local tax dollars, which means that schools in areas where parents make a lot of money are usually quite wealthy, while schools in areas where parents make little are usually quite poor. Thus, how we choose to fund our schools has a profound impact on the quality of education that children have available to them. That being said, it is incorrect to say that education has no impact on children’s lives—there is simply no evidence to suggest that this is true.”

Her website noted, “Damaske’s research investigates how competing forces of stratification, particularly gender, race and class, influence work and family transitions.”

Damaske, assistant professor of labor and employment relations and sociology at Pennsylvania State University, is the author of For the Family?: How Class and Gender Shape Women’s Work, published by Oxford University Press in October 2011. Adding to her accomplishments, Harvard Business Review recently published two of her articles.

At Hamilton, she majored in comparative literature. She was a member of the College Choir, the College Hill Singers and was the director of HAVOC. After graduating, she attended New York University and received her M.A. in 2005 and her Ph.D. in 2009.


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