Research Workshop November 16, 2012


Location: 339 O'Shaughnessy Hall

Elizabeth McClintock, Assistant Professor, Sociology

The Social Structure of Sexual Identity

Prior research has documented higher rates of non-heterosexuality and of longitudinal change in sexual identity among women than among men, attributing this difference to greater female sexual fluidity (flexibility in same-sex and other-sex sexuality).  However, the social contexts and relational experiences that influence women’s non-heterosexual identities and that facilitate female instability in sexual identity have not been investigated empirically.  In this paper we use data from four waves of the 1994-2008 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a large and nationally-representative sample of adolescents.  We examine changes in stated patterns of sexual behavior, sexual attraction, and sexual identity as respondents move from adolescence (average age 16 at the initial interview) to young adulthood (average age 29 at the fourth interview).  Whereas prior researchers have tended to focus only on sexuality, we consider the broader social and relational context in which sexual behavior occurs and sexual identities are developed and renegotiated.  In doing so, we address the intersection of gender, social class, and sexual identity, highlighting the gender and class-dependent nature of sexual meanings and opportunities. 

Elizabeth Aura McClintock is an assistant professor in sociology.  Her research primarily focuses on gender in the context of romantic and sexual relationships, particularly in partner selection and in negotiated outcomes between partners.  Other research addresses how intimate relationships reflect, perpetuate, and potentially alter broad societal patterns of gender, class, age, and racial inequality.  Recent articles address gender differences in sexual strategies in dating relationships (Biodemography and Social Biology, 2011) and the gendered double standard of aging (Population and Development Review, 2009).  Ongoing projects include investigating the romantic cost of working in a gender-atypical occupation, challenging the “trophy wife” stereotype that women commonly trade their beauty for men’s money, and examining the social structural causes of shifts in self-reported sexual identity.


In order to advance the program’s commitment to inter-disciplinary research and inquiry into the subject of gender, the Gender Studies Program is pleased to announce an upcoming series of research workshops. The events will include presentations by advanced undergraduates majoring in Gender Studies as well as graduate students and faculty members from a variety of departments who work in the area of gender and sexuality. The workshop will begin with the week’s presenter giving a brief lecture on his or her current research in the field, followed by a seminar-style discussion.

Workshops are held on Fridays from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in 339 O’Shaughnessy unless otherwise specified.

If you would like to reserve a date for a presentation at one of the Research Workshops please contact either of our Research Workshop coordinators: Meagan Simpson or Robinson Murphy.