Mary Blair-Loy

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

Curriculum Vitae

Center For Research on Gender in the Professions

Mary Blair-Loy (she/her) 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

Articles, Chapters & Reports

Cech, Erin A. and M. Blair-Loy. 2014. “Consequences of Flexibility Stigma among Academic Scientists and Engineers.” Work and Occupations 41: 86-110.

Blair-Loy, M. 2013. “Moral Meanings in the Work-Family Literature.” ASA/NSF Report on the Science of Morality: Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Approaches Now and in the Future. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association.

Blair-Loy, M., Laura Pecenco, and Erin Cech. 2013. The Persistence of Male Power and Prestige in the Professions. Center for Research on Gender in the Professions Report.

Blair-Loy, M. and Stacy Williams. 2013.  “Male Model of Career.” Pp. 549-552 in Vicki Smith, ed. Sociology of Work: An Encyclopedia. Sage Publications.

Williams, Joan, M. Blair-Loy, and Jennifer Berdahl. 2013. “Cultural Schemas, Social Class, and the Flexibility Stigma.” Journal of Social Issues 69: 209-234.   

Blair-Loy, M., Amy S. Wharton, and Jerry Goodstein. 2011. “Exploring the Relationship between Mission Statements and Work-Life Practices in Organizations.”Organization Studies 32: 427-450.

Blair-Loy, M. 2010. "Moral Dimensions of the Work-Family Nexus." Pp. 439-453 in Handbook of the Sociology of Morality, edited by S. Hitlin and S. Vaisey.New York: Springer Science+Business Media.

Cech, Erin A. and M. Blair-Loy. 2010. “Perceiving Glass Ceilings? Meritocratic versus Structural Explanations of Gender Inequality among Women in Science and Technology." Social Problems57: 371-397.

Blair-Loy, M. 2009. “Work Without End? Scheduling Flexibility and Work-to-Family Conflict among Stockbrokers.” Work and Occupations 36: 279-317.

Goodstein, Jerry, M. Blair-Loy, and Amy S. Wharton. 2009. “Organization-Based Legitimacy: Core Ideologies and Moral Action.” 2009. In I. Reed and J. Alexander, eds. Meaning and Method: The Cultural Approach to Sociology. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.

Binder, Amy, M. Blair-Loy, John H. Evans, Kwai Ng, and Michael Schudson. 2008. “The Diversity of Culture.” Pp. 1-9 in Cultural Sociology and its Diversity. Special Issue of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 619 (September).

Wharton, Amy S., Sarah Chivers, and M. Blair-Loy.2008. "Use of Formal and Informal Work-Family Policies on the Digital Assembly Line." Work and Occupations 35: 327-350.

Wharton, Amy S. and Mary Blair-Loy. 2006. “Long Work Hours and Family Life: A Cross-National Study of Employees’ Concerns.” Journal of Family Issues 27: 415-436.

Blair-Loy, M. and Michael Frenkel. 2005. “Societal Cultural Models of Work and Family: An International Perspective.” In M. Pitt-Catsouphes and P. Raskin, eds.,Work-Family Encyclopedia, Chestnut Hill, MA: Sloan Work and Family Research Network at Boston College.

Blair-Loy, M. 2004. “Work Devotion and Work Time.” In C.F. Epstein and A. Kalleberg, eds., Fighting for Time: Shifting Boundaries of Work and Family. Russell Sage Foundation.

Blair-Loy, M. and Amy S. Wharton. 2004. “Mothers in Finance: Surviving and Thriving.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 596: 151-171.

Blair-Loy, M. and Amy S. Wharton. 2004. “Organizational Commitment and Constraints on Work-Family Policy Use: Corporate Flexibility Policies in a Global Firm.” Sociological Perspectives 47: 243-267.

Blair-Loy, M. and Gretchen DeHart. 2003. "Family and Career Trajectories among African American Female Attorneys.” Journal of Family Issues 24: 908-933. (Reprinted in P. J. Dubeck, ed. Workplace/Women’s Place, 3rd edition. 2006, Roxbury Publishing Company.)

Blair-Loy, M. and Jerry A. Jacobs. 2003. “Globalization, Work Hours, and the Care Deficit among Stockbrokers.” Gender & Society 17: 230-249. (Reprinted in M.K. Kimmerman, J.S. Litt, and C.E. Bose, eds., Global Dimensions of Carework. 2006. Stanford University Press.)

Blair-Loy, M. and Amy S. Wharton. 2002. “Employees’ Use of Family-Responsive Policies and the Workplace Social Context.” Social Forces 80: 813-845.

Wharton, Amy S. and M. Blair-Loy. 2002. "The ‘Overtime Culture’ in a Global Corporation: A Cross National Study of Finance Professionals' Interest in Working Part-Time." Work and Occupations 29: 32-63.

Blair-Loy, M. 2001. “Cultural Constructions of Family Schemas: The Case of Women Executives.” Gender & Society 15: 687-709.

Blair-Loy, M. 2001. "It's Not Just What You Know, It's Who You Know: Technical Knowledge, Rainmaking, and Gender among Finance Executives." Research in the Sociology of Work 10: 51-83.

Blair-Loy, M. 1999. "Career Patterns of Executive Women in Finance: An Optimal Matching Analysis." American Journal of Sociology 104: 1346-97.

Jacobs, Jerry A. and M. Blair-Loy. 1996. "Gender, Race, Local Labor Markets, and Occupational Devaluation." Sociological Focus 29: 209-230.

Stolzenberg, Ross M., M. Blair-Loy and Linda J. Waite. 1995. "Religious Participation in Early Adulthood: Age and Family Life Cycle Effects on Church Membership." American Sociological Review 60: 84-103.