Allison Daminger, PhD
PhD, Sociology and Social Policy
Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Wisconsin-Madison

I use qualitative methods to study the relationship between gender inequality and family life. My current project focuses on “cognitive labor”: the work of anticipating household needs, identifying options for meeting those needs, deciding among the options, and monitoring the outcomes. While decades of sociological research shows a persistent gender gap in men’s and women’s household labor contributions, common definitions of household labor encompass only the physical elements of such work. Via in-depth interviews of couples with children, I show that cognitive labor is in fact a ubiquitous component of household life—one that is unequally distributed on the basis of gender. In two articles published in the American Sociological Review, I highlight both the gendering of cognitive labor and how couples “de-gender” it, or obscure gender’s influence on their labor allocation processes. My dissertation builds on this work to ask how gender and class interact to shape cognitive labor patterns and to identify the processes that lead couples to a traditional or non-traditional cognitive labor allocation.