Sarah Damaske


Associate Professor of Sociology, Labor & Employment Relations, and Women's Studies,
Research Associate, Population Research Institute


  • Social Sciences

Focus Areas:

  • Demography
  • Family and Work Demands
  • Gender Beliefs and Family Transitions
  • Population Research


  • Damaske can speak to the impacts of COVID-19 on the workforce, including barriers to reentry such as a lack of child care options and health care access.
  • Her research focuses on understanding the sociological factors that impact unemployment, and how that shapes families, finances, health and the job hunt.

Sarah Damaske is an associate professor of sociology, labor and employment relations, and women’s studies in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Penn State, where she also serves as the associate director of the Population Research Institute.

Damaske’s research focuses on understanding how sociological factors such as race, gender and the work-family dynamic shape unemployment, and how they affect finances, families, health and the job hunt. She has authored three books, including “The Tolls of Uncertainty: How Privilege and the Guilt Gap Shape Unemployment in America,” which was published by Princeton University Press in May 2021.

Damaske’s expertise has been called upon by media outlets such as the New York Times and BBC for stories examining COVID-19’s impact on unemployment, particularly on women and mothers and their ability to rejoin the workforce. She is also the vice president of the Work-Family Researchers Network, an international organization.

In The Media

The myth of men's full-time employment

from Fast Company February 9, 2024

“One of the things that parents report is that, when childcare is easily accessible and they know it’s high quality, it keeps them, especially mums, in the labour market."

"My research suggests that unemployed women are more likely than unemployed men to sacrifice their health before they ask their families to do without."

"Until we realize that a lack of generosity prevents workers from searching for work, our unemployment system will continue to fail those who need it the most."

“Men who are out of work are still presumed to be workers, but women aren’t, because we frame work for women as a choice.”

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