Jayanti Owens

Profile Photo
Assistant Professor
401 Maxcy Hall

Research Interests

Stratification, Education, Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Children and Families, Work and Organizations, Social Demography, Population Health


I am currently the Mary Tefft and John Hazen White, Sr. Assistant Professor of Sociology and International and Public Affairs at Brown University, in the Department of Sociology and Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. I am also an affiliate of the Population Studies and Training Center. From 2013 to 2015 I was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I completed a Ph.D. in Sociology and Demography at Princeton University. I have worked at organizations such as the Urban Institute, Mathematica Policy Research, and the U.S. House of Representatives.

My research interests lie at the intersections of social stratification, education, organizations, social demography, and population health. I study how the social contexts of schools, families, and workplaces as well as the race and gender of individuals and their evaluators shape evaluations and, ultimately, lead to racial/ethnic and gender disparities in educational and economic outcomes. I am interested in how the features of one’s social context influence the psychological processes through which individuals – those in authority and decision-making positions as well as those in non-authority positions – make sense of diversity and difference within organizations broadly defined, and how this carries implications for racial/ethnic and gender inequality at the social and organizational levels.

On the one hand, I consider how authority figures like teachers, parents, and workplace managers evaluate behaviors and competencies and make decisions about conferring punishments and rewards. I am particularly interested in how the same behaviors and competencies are differentially punished and/or rewarded based on factors such individuals’ race and gender and organizational culture. On the other hand, I examine how social context influences the ways in which non-authorities, like students and job applicants who are the targets of racial and gender stereotypes, manage stereotyping by modulating their behaviors, self-presentation, expectations, and achievement.

My research has been funded by the Spencer Foundation, the National Academy of Education, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Social Science Research Council, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Wisconsin. Resulting work has been published in Social Forces, Sociology of Education, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Social Science Research, Sociology of Religion, and the Peabody Journal of Education.