Karen Christopher

Ph.D. Sociology, University of Arizona, 2000.

Dr. Karen Christopher is Associate Professor, Women's and Gender Studies, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Sociology.

Email Dr. Karen Christopher   k.christopher@louisville.edu


Selected publications:

  • "Paid Leaves as Buffer Zones: Social Policies and Work-life Balance among Canadian Mothers." Forthcoming in Journal of Research on Women and Gender.
  • 2013. "African American and Latinas' Mothering Scripts: An Intersectional Analysis." Advances in Gender Research 17: 189-210.
  • 2012. "Halving it Both Ways: Co-parenting in an Academic Couple." With Avery Kolers. In Being and Thinking as an Academic Mother, Demeter Press.
  • 2012. "Extensive Mothering: Employed Mothers' Constructions of the Good Mother." Gender and Society, 26(1): 73-96.
  • 2009. "Mother as Provider: Student Welfare Recipients' Narratives of Paid and  Unpaid Work."  Race, Class & Gender 16(3-4): 185-202.
  • 2007. "Reassessing Welfare Reform Data: A Response to Cherry." Feminist Economics, 13(2): 197-202.
  • 2006. "The Poverty Line Forty Years Later:  Alternative Poverty Measures and Women's Lives." Race, Class & Gender, 12(2): 33-51 (Printing delayed due to Hurricane Katrina).
  • 2005. "Welfare Recipients Attending College:  The Interplay of Oppression and Resistance." Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 32(3): 165-185.
  • 2005. "A 'Pauperization of Motherhood'?:  Single Motherhood, Employment and Women's Poverty." Journal of Poverty 9(3): 1-23.
  • 2004. "Welfare as We [Don't] Know It:  A Review and Feminist Critique of Welfare Reform Research."  Feminist Economics, 10(2): 143-171.
  • 2002. With Paula England, Timothy Smeeding, Katherin Ross Phillips, "The Gender Gap in Poverty in Modern Nations:  Single Motherhood, the Market and the State. Sociological Perspectives, 45(3).
  • 2002. Caregiving, Welfare States, and Mothers Poverty.  In Child Care and Inequality:  Re-thinking Carework for Children and Youth, editors Francesca Cancian, Demi Kurz, Andrew London, Rebecca Reviere and Mary Tuominen.  New York: Routledge.
  • 2002. Single Motherhood, Employment, or Social Assistance:  Why are U.S. Women Poorer than Women in Other Affluent Nations?  Journal of Poverty 6(2).


Current and recent courses:

  • Women in American Culture (introductory course in WGS)
  • Gender, Race, Work & Welfare
  • Feminist Research and Methods in the Social Sciences
  • Motherhood: Myths and Reality
  • For Sociology: Sociology of the Family


Research interests:

Professor Christopher's research explores the intersections of gender, race, and class in the family, labor market, and welfare state. Her recent projects focus on how North American mothers negotiate paid and unpaid work.

In 2015, Professor Christopher is beginning an in-depth interview study of mothers who work as nurses, nursing aides and elementary school teachers. She will ask about their experiences of care labor at work and at home, exploring mothers' accounts of job satisfaction, job burnout and work-family conflict.