Sociology professors Christina Cross, David Pedulla win for impactful journal articles

Assistant Professor of Sociology Christina J. Cross (left) and Professor of Sociology David S. Pedulla. Photos by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer and Martha Stewart

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The American Sociological Association has recognized two Harvard professors for publishing significant journal articles last year.

Assistant Professor of Sociology Christina J. Cross and Professor of Sociology David S. Pedulla are winners of the ASA Family Section’s 2023 Article of the Year Award, designed to celebrate major contributions to the field of family sociology.

Cross served as lead author on the winning paper “Interlinking structural racism and heteropatriarchy: Rethinking family structure’s effects on child outcomes in a racialized, unequal society,” a continuation of her scholarship on two-parent families that was published in the Journal of Family Theory and Review.

“The leading theory used to explain the link between family structure and child outcomes has been unable to predict or explain an important puzzle: why the effect of living in a two-parent or single-parent family differs by race,” Cross explained. “My co-authors and I argue that this issue arises, in part, because this theory overlooks how structural factors, like racism, shape children’s experience of family structure.”

The researchers propose a new theoretical model that accounts for inequities between Black and white children from two-parent households. “We also discuss approaches to research design, measurement, and interpretation that will help bring this new model into practice,” Cross said.

Pedulla won for “When Do Work-Family Policies Work? Unpacking the Effects of Stigma and Financial Costs for Men and Women,” co-authored with UC Santa Barbara’s Sarah Thébaud and published in the journal Work and Occupations.

“In our article, we use data from an original survey experiment to examine how the salience of flexibility stigma — workplace norms that penalize workers for utilizing policies that facilitate non-work demands — and financial costs affect men’s and women’s intentions to use work-family policies,” said Pedulla, who is also director of Graduate Studies in Sociology and serves as professor of public policy at the Kennedy School.

Thébaud and Pedulla found a large gender gap in plans to use parental leave policies when both flexibility stigma and financial costs are high. “However, this gender gap is reduced significantly as conditions become more favorable,” Pedulla noted.

Cross, who joined the Department of Sociology as a postdoctoral fellow and incoming assistant professor in 2019, described feeling honored by the recognition. “My co-authors and I hope that it will help advance how the field conducts and interprets research on families,” she said.

Pedulla, who arrived in 2020 after teaching at Stanford, is especially glad to share the distinction with Cross. “There is so much wonderful sociological scholarship on the family,” he said. “It is quite special to share this honor with my colleague, who is a co-winner for her leading-edge research.”