Mary Blair-Loy

Associate Professor, Founding Director, Center for Research on Gender in the Professions

Curriculum Vitae

Center For Research on Gender in the Professions

Mary Blair-Loy has a B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and an M.Div. from Harvard University. She uses multiple methods to study gender, the economy, work, and family. Much scholarship in these areas posits people as making individually strategic trade-offs between work and family obligations. Although valid in certain circumstances, these assumptions distort the analysis of institutions that are imbued with moral connotations experienced as externally binding and often conflicting. In contrast, Blair-Loy explicitly analyzes broadly shared, cultural models of a worthwhile life, such as the work devotion schema and the family devotion schema. These cultural schemas help shape workplace and family structures. They frame certain decisions as morally and emotionally compelling, while defining others as off-limits.  The work devotion schema renders professional life meaningful, justifies spending little time on family care, and reinforces gender inequality in the labor market.

Her award-winning book, Competing Devotions: Career and Family among Women Executives(2003, Harvard), focused on these issues for executive women, while a new study addresses these issues among executive men. Recent research extends this framework beyond business elites to call center workers (with Amy Wharton and Sarah Chivers) and to professionals in science and technology (with Erin Cech).  Further, she analyzes the institutionalization of corporate work-family policies (with Amy Wharton) and organizational ideologies (with Wharton and Jerry Goodstein).  In an edited ANNALS collection, Blair-Loy and colleagues argue that cultural sociology thrives when it is engaged with empirical research on social inequalities and other concrete problems.

Editorial Boards: Social Problems (2008-present);  American Journal of Sociology (2007-present);Work and Occupations (2007-present); American Sociological Review (2003-2006).

American Sociological Association Officer positions:  Council, Economic Sociology Section (2006-2009) and Organizations, Occupations and Work Section (2005-2008)

Research Affiliate, Berger Institute for Work, Family, and Children, Claremont McKenna College.

Faculty Fellow, Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University.

Flexibility Stigma Working Group, Center for WorkLife Law, UC Hastings College of the Law.

UCSD Colloquia: Blair-Loy coordinates the UCSD Department of Sociology Gender/ Inequalities Workshop, and co-convenes the Culture and Society Workshop


Mary Blair-Loy. 2003. Competing Devotions: Career and Family among Women Executives.Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press.  (Received the 2005 William J. Goode Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s Family Section).   

Edited Volume

Amy Binder, M. Blair-Loy, John H. Evans, Kwai Ng, and Michael Schudson. 2008. Cultural Sociology and Its Diversity. Special issue of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 619 (September).

Articles, Chapters, and Reports

Fall 2015

SOCI 118: Sociology of Gender

SOCG 267: Sociology of Gender