Main content start

"The Trouble with Passion" Book Talk

Wed July 20th 2022, 4:00pm
Event Sponsor
The Clayman Institute for Gender Research
"The Trouble with Passion" Book Talk

The Clayman Institute for Gender Research invites you to join us for a book talk.  The talk will feature sociologist and former Clayman Institute postdoctoral fellow Erin Cech to discuss her new book The Trouble with Passion: How Searching for Fulfillment at Work Fosters Inequality, in conversation with former Clayman Institute graduate disseration fellow Monique Harrison.

Probing the ominous side of career advice to "follow your passion," this data-driven study explains how the passion principle fails us and perpetuates inequality by class, gender, and race; and it suggests how we can reconfigure our relationships to paid work.

"Follow your passion" is a popular mantra for career decision-making in the United States. Passion-seeking seems like a promising path for avoiding the potential drudgery of a life of paid work, but this "passion principle"—seductive as it is—does not universally translate. The Trouble with Passion reveals the significant downside of the passion principle: the concept helps culturally legitimize and reproduce an exploited, overworked white-collar labor force and broadly serves to reinforce class, race, and gender segregation and inequality.

About the Author

Erin Cech photo

Dr. Erin Cech is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and the Department of Mechanical Engineering (by courtesy) at the University of Michigan. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University and earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from UC San Diego and undergraduate degrees in Electrical Engineering and Sociology from Montana State University. Cech's research examines cultural mechanisms of inequality reproduction--especially through seemingly innocuous cultural beliefs and practices. Cech’s work is funded by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation. Her research has appeared in the American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Her research has been covered by The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Time, and the news sections of Science and Nature. In 2020, she was named one of Business Equality Magazine’s “40 LGBTQ+ Leaders Under 40.” Cech’s first book, The Trouble with Passion: How Searching for Fulfillment at Work Fosters Inequality was published in 2021 and her second book, Misconceiving Merit: Paradoxes of Excellence and Devotion in Academic Science and Engineering(with M. Blair-Loy) was out in June 2022.

About the Moderator

Monique Harrison photo

Dr. Monique Harrison is an incoming postdoctoral fellow at University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education in the Education Policy division. Her work currently follows a cohort of undergraduates to understand how gender, race, and socio-economic status influence academic predilections and course choices. During her time at Stanford she was a Dissertation Fellow at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research as well as the lab manager for the Pathways Research Lab. She has earned degrees in Sociology of Education (PhD, Stanford), Sociology (MA, Stanford), Education (M.Ed, Harvard University), and Human Development (BS, Cornell University).