Molly King: Highlights from First Year at SCU
Looking back on my first year at Santa Clara University, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the project of building a more just, humane, and sustainable world as part of the Sociology Department at SCU. This past year has been a flurry of research and teaching.
My research focuses on inequalities in information and knowledge and the implications of these inequalities for people's lives. An important component of understanding inequalities in knowledge is understanding inequalities involved in producing new knowledge. With the onset of the pandemic, I have also been engaging in research directly relevant to the impact of COVID-19 on inequalities in academic careers. I have been working on a project to understand to what degree and why academics -- especially women -- have experienced unprecedented challenges to scholarly productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic. We compile recommendations for institutional change that could ameliorate challenges to professional women's productivity during the pandemic and beyond. I also published a piece called “People with disabilities are worth saving, too: Ensuring healthcare equity during the COVID-19 pandemic” on the Journal of Medical Ethics Blog. It discusses what we have to learn from sociology and research about bias in understanding the allocation of healthcare resources.
Together with several student research assistants, I have been working on a number of research projects related to information inequality. We are investigating command over knowledge in a wide variety of domains (e.g., health, religion, sports, history, politics, science) to ask: What do people know and how is that knowledge structured by the demographic characteristics of gender, race/ethnicity, and income? Are some groups systematically advantaged across all areas of factual knowledge, or is there a knowledge division of labor, in which some groups specialize in certain areas? Currently I am working with students on projects related to financial literacy, economic knowledge, and health and technological literacy.
It is an everyday privilege to have the opportunity to work with research assistants and students in the classroom. This past academic year, I taught Social Problems, Qualitative Methods, and Inequality and the American Dream. Transitioning to online teaching has been quite a challenge, but I have appreciated the lessons it has taught me about good pedagogy, which can be applied both in online and in-person courses. Some of my teaching practices were even highlighted in a recent SCU news feature! SCU has been supporting instructors with excellent resources for improving the online learning experience. This year, I am teaching the same courses, as well as a new course I am introducing to the department: the Sociology of Gender, which is highlighted later in this newsletter.
I am grateful for the ongoing support of Sociology alumni and students, and I look forward to another year of teaching, mentoring and research among my supportive colleagues at SCU.