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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 the 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 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. Second, she uses quantitative and qualitative approaches to examine inequality in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professions—specifically, the recruitment and retention of women, Native Americans, and LGBT individuals, and the role of professional cultures in this inequality. Finally, she studies how cultural understandings of the extent and origin of inequality helps to uphold unequal social structures. Cech’s research has been covered in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Huffington Post, California Daily, Stanford Watch, and the online careers section of Science.