Mary Tefft and John Hazen White, Sr. Assistant Professor of Public and International Affairs and Sociology
Areas of Interest: Social stratification, education, race/ethnicity, gender, 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 and the Annenberg Institute. From 202o to 2025 I am part of the William T. Grant Foundation Scholars Program. 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, race/ethnicity, organizations, and social demography. I study how the organizational contexts of schools 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 organizational context influence the social psychological processes through which individuals – those in positions of power within organizations as well as those in structurally constrained positions – make sense of diversity and difference within organizations, and the implications for racial/ethnic and gender inequality at the social and organizational levels.
On the one hand, I consider how people in positions of power, 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 students and job applicants, when targeted by race and gender stereotypes, manage stereotyping by modulating their behaviors, self-presentation, expectations, and achievement.
My research has been funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the National Academy of Education, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Foundation for Child Development, the Social Science Research Council, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Wisconsin.
Owens, Jayanti. 2021. “Parental Intervention in School, Academic Pressure, and Childhood Diagnoses of ADHD.” Social Science & Medicine 272: e1-e10.
Rivera, Lauren A. and Jayanti Owens. 2021. “Glass Floors and Glass Ceilings: Sex Homophily and Heterophily in Job Interviews.” Social Forces.
Featured coverage in: Watson Institute Policy Briefs, This week in Sociological Perspective (podcast)
Owens, Jayanti. 2020. “Social Class, ADHD Diagnosis, and Child Well-Being.” Journal of Health & Social Behavior 61(2): 134-152. (Lead Article)
Featured coverage in: American Sociological Association, Journal of Health and Social Behavior Featured Articles (podcast), Journal of Health and Social Behavior Policy Brief
Owens, Jayanti. 2020. “Relationships Between an ADHD Diagnosis and Future School Behaviors among Children with Mild Behavioral Problems.” Sociology of Education 93(3): 191-214. (Lead Article)
Featured coverage in: The Hechinger Report, This Week in Sociological Perspective (podcast)
Owens, Jayanti and Sara S. McLanahan. 2019[2020 in print]. “Unpacking the Drivers of Racial Disparities in School Suspension and Expulsion.” Social Forces 98(4): 1548-1577.
Featured coverage in: ABC6 News (television interview), Annenberg Institute, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Brown University, Futurity.org, Huffington Post, Impact Magazine, Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Uprise RI, phys.org, Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality
Owens, Jayanti and Heide Jackson*. 2017. “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Severity, Diagnosis, and Later Academic Achievement in a National Sample.” Social Science Research 61: 251-265.
Featured coverage in: The Pacific Standard, WebMD
Owens, Jayanti. 2016. “Early Childhood Behavior Problems and the Gender Gap in Educational Attainment in the United States.” Sociology of Education 89(3): 236-258.
Featured coverage in: BBC (radio program), U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, The Telegraph (UK), The Seattle Times, Deseret News, Inside Higher Ed., Science Daily, Philly.com, Health Day, WebMD, Iran Daily News, The American Interest, The Pacific Standard, American Sociological Association homepage, Associated Press (AP)
Owens, Jayanti. 2014. “Racial/Ethnic Variations in the Consequences of Religious Participation for Academic Achievement at Elite Colleges and Universities.” Sociology of Religion 75(1): 80-112.
Discrimination and Public Policy, PLCY 1701R (Fall 2019, Spring 2021);
Sociology of Discrimination, SOC 2260B (Fall 2019, Spring 2021);
Methods of Social Research, SOC 1020 (Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2020);
Introduction to Statistics for Social Research, SOC 1100 (Spring 2019);
Experiments on Race, Class, and Gender, SOC 1290 (Spring 2017);
Statistics II for Public Policy Analysis (MPA/MPP Level), PLCY 2035 (Fall 2015, Fall 2016)
Watson Institute, Faculty Research Series on Race, Education, and the Criminal Justice System – Interview with Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve (Released: 18 January 2021)
Journal of Health and Social Behavior Featured Articles Podcast – Interview with Julia Slater (Released: 7 May 2020)
This Week in Sociological Perspective – Interview with Samuel Lucas (Released: 22 May 2020)
BBC News – Analysis – Interview with David Grossman (Released: 7 October 2019)
ABC6 News – Interview with John Krinjak (Released: 31 July 2019)
Watson Institute, Trending Globally Podcast – Interview with Sarah Baldwin-Beneich (Released: 26 September 2019)
Media Coverage of Research
Colleen Cronin. “School Discipline: The Race Gap.” Impact Magazine (26 February 2021)
Dana Sutcliffe. “Parental Intervention in School, Academic Pressure, and Childhood Diagnoses of ADHD.” Watson Institute Policy Brief (19 February 2021)
Dana Sutcliffe. “Social Class, Diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and Child Well-Being.” Watson Institute Policy Brief (6 January 2021)
Diana Sutcliffe. “Glass Floors and Glass Ceilings: Sex Homophily and Heterophily in Job Interviews.” Watson Institute Policy Brief (18 August 2020)
Jayanti Owens [Amy Burdette (editor)]. “Social Class, Diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and Child Well-Being” Journal of Health and Social Behavior Policy Brief (8 June 2020)
Sarah Baldwin. “Learning Research by Doing Research” The Watson Institute (2 April 2020)
Jill Barshay. “Study questions educational benefits of labeling kids with mild forms of ADHD” The Hechinger Report (9 March 2020)
Jill Kimball. “Teacher treatment of student factors into racial gap in school suspensions” Brown University (18 July 2019)
Jayanti Owens. “Unpacking the Drivers of Racial Disparities in School Suspension and Expulsion” Annenberg Institute (video interview) (July 2019)
Jill Kimball-Brown. “Harsher Punishment Leads to More Suspensions for Black Kids” Futurity.org (22 July 2019)
“Racial Disparities in School Discipline Have Little to Do with Different Student Behavior” Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (29 July 2019)
ASA News. “Early Behavior Problems Impact Educational Attainment of Boys More than Girls” American Sociological Association (3 August 2016)
Nick Morrison. “Poor Behavior Hits Boys Hardest” Forbes (22 June 2016)
Lauren Camera. “Boys Bear the Brunt of School Discipline” US News and World Report (22 June 2016)
Javier Espinoza. “Naughty girls ‘more likely to get away with misbehaving’, study shows” The Telegraph UK (22 June 2016)
John Higgins. “Same behavior problems hinder boys more than girls” The Seattle Times (24 June 2016)
“Early behavior problems impact long-term educational attainment more for boys than girls” Science News (24 June 2016)
Eric Schulzke. “New study sheds light on girls’ resilience and the academic gender gap” Deseret News (12 July 2016)
Raymond Scott. “Report: Behavior Discipline Policies Contribute to Gender Gap in Ed” Education News (02 July 2016)
Scott Jaschik. “Early Behavioral Issues, Gender and College Attainment” Inside Higher Ed (22 June 2016)
Tom Jacobs. “The Downside of ADHD Diagnosis” Pacific Standard Magazine (14 June 2017)
Stephen Suh. “Not So Different: Color-Blindness and Diversity” The Society Pages (13 July 2015)
Gender Matters. “School Discipline Hits Boys Hardest” The American Interest (22 June 2016)
PTI “Girls more likely to get away with misbehaving than boys” The Free Press Journal (22 June 2016)