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Barbara J. Risman, Where the Millennials Will Take Us: A New Generation Wrestles with the Gender Structure

Saturday, January 26   |   11:00 am

Are today’s young adults gender rebels or returning to tradition? In Where the Millennials Will Take Us, Barbara J. Risman reveals the diverse strategies youth use to negotiate the ongoing gender revolution. Using her theory of gender as a social structure, Risman analyzes life history interviews with a diverse set of Millennials to probe how they understand gender and how they might change it. Some are true believers that men and women are essentially different and should be so. Others are innovators, defying stereotypes and rejecting sexist ideologies and organizational practices. Perhaps new to this generation are gender rebels who reject sex categories, often refusing to present their bodies within them and sometimes claiming genderqueer identities. And finally, many youths today are simply confused by all the changes swirling around them.

As a new generation contends with unsettled gender norms and expectations, Risman reminds us that gender is much more than an identity; it also shapes expectations in everyday life, and structures the organization of workplaces, politics, and, ideology. To pursue change only in individual lives, Risman argues, risks the opportunity to eradicate both gender inequality and gender as a primary category that organizes social life.

Dr. Barbara J. Risman is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois Chicago. She relocated to UIC after spending two decades at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where she was an Alumni Distinguished Research Professor, as well as the Founding Director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program. Barbara Risman is the author of Gender Vertigo: American Families in Transition.  The American Sociological Association honored Professor Risman with the 2011 Award for the Public Understanding of Sociology Award. In 2005, Dr. Risman was honored with the Katherine Jocher Belle Boone Award from the Southern Sociological Society for lifetime contributions to the study of gender.