Caitlyn Collins is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research examines the cultural and political production of inequality. She investigates how cultural attitudes and public policies intersect to shape people’s daily lives in vastly different ways depending on their social location. Specifically, Collins uses qualitative methods to understand the influence of public policies on gender inequality at work and in family life.

Her current project is a cross-national, comparative interview study of 135 working mothers in Sweden, Germany, Italy, and the United States. These four countries offer distinct policy approaches to reconciling work-family conflict. Collins examines how different ideals of gender, motherhood, and employment are embedded in these policy regimes, and how they shape the daily lives of working mothers in these countries. By gaining first-hand knowledge of how working mothers combine paid work with childrearing in diverse national contexts, Collins demonstrates that work-family conflict is not an inevitable feature of contemporary life, but is rather the product of inequalities embedded in systems of welfare provisioning.

A book based on this research called Impossible Ideals: How Women Work and Care in Europe and America is under contract with Princeton University Press.

Professor Collins’ scholarship has been published in Gender & Society, Qualitative Sociology, Social Science & Medicine, The Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, Michigan Family Review, and several edited books. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the European Union, the Swedish Council of America, and the German Academic Exchange Service. She received a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016.

During her fieldwork from 2011 to 2015, she was a Visiting Researcher at the WZB (Berlin Social Science Center) in Berlin, Germany; the Department of Political Science at Roma Tre University in Rome, Italy; the Linnaeus Center for Social Policy and Family Dynamics in Europe (SPaDE) at Stockholm University in Stockholm, Sweden; and the Institute for Family-Focused Research and Policy Services (FamilienForschung) in Stuttgart, Germany.