Women's and Gender Studies
B.A., Brandeis University; M.A., Ph.D., Northwestern University
Class of 1919 – 50th Reunion Professor of Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies
Researches families in a changing economy and how social inequality at home and in the workplace shape the experiences of women and men.
Rosanna Hertz is the Classes of 1919-1950 Reunion Professor of Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies at Wellesley College where she has taught since 1983. She is currently chair of the WGST department. She is the past president (2009-2010) of the Eastern Sociological Society, the oldest regional sociological association. Most recently she also served on the Executive Council of the American Sociological Association (2008-2011). She presently serves on the board of three professional journals: the Journal of Family Issues, Community, Work and Families, and Qualitative Sociology. She is also affiliated with the Center for Research on Gender in the Professions, University of California, San Diego.
Dr. Hertz is currently working on two strands of research. The first project, “Donors, Donor Gametes and the Making of Families” (a collaboration with Margaret K. Nelson) examines how innovative relations are developing among families who selected the same donor, how technological developments have made genetic relatives possible and how these families may become a new political group making demands on the fertility industry.
“Productive Rule Breakers and Innovators,” Dr. Hertz’s other project, seeks to better understand the motivations and the tactic of men and women who stretch everyone’s thinking about what’s possible. They “stretch the envelope” while remaining loyal to the organizations and communities that nurtured them. They inspire others to have similar aspirations and to challenge the status quo – rather than withdrawing or complaining from the sidelines. The specific focus of this study is the experience of women who have become productive rule breakers and innovators in developing economies – specifically India and China. It examines the context of their lives – the “intersection of biography and history” – in an effort to understand how education, family background, social structure and social networks influenced their distinctive personal and professional trajectories. It seeks to understand the critical moments and events that encouraged each woman to become a different kind of leader – a productive rule breaker.
In broadest terms, Hertz’s scholarship focuses on families in a changing economy and how social inequality at home and in the workplace shape the experiences of women and men. She is interested in how people weave together a life on their own, despite lack of government or workplace supports. She has recently completed a study of the interplay of genetics, social interaction, and culture expectations in the formation of web-based donor sibling kin groups. Books she has written in this vein include, Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice: How Women Are Choosing Parenthood without Marriage and Creating the New American Family (Oxford University Press, 2006) and More Equal than Others: Women and Men in Dual-Career Marriages (University of California Press) and Working Families: The Transformation of the American Home (edited with Nancy L. Marshall) Berkeley: University of California Press. Hertz teaches courses on the changing family and social policy, the social construction of gender, and women and the global economy. She has had a long-standing interest in social science methodology Her courses are known for assignments that emphasize multiple methodological approaches. She has edited several books and journal volumes about various aspects of methodology.
She received a B.A. at Brandeis University in sociology and philosophy and an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University. In addition, she completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
She is frequently quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Boston Globe. She appears frequently in the broadcast media commenting on social problems for local news specials.