Maria Charles

Maria Charles
Distinguished Professor

Office Location

SSMS 3421


Gender, Inequalities, Global and Transnational Sociology,  Work, Education, Demography


Ph.D., Stanford University


My research compares inequality patterns and gender beliefs within and across countries. I am particularly interested in understanding the cultural and structural forces that sustain gender disparities in families, educational systems, and labor markets in the United States and around the world.

Recent projects, with graduate students and other collaborators, include analyses of gender-related beliefs in Africa and the Middle East, cross-national differences in girls’ attitudes toward science and mathematics, and gender segregation of computing work around the world. The cross-national differences documented are often at odds with conventional wisdom about more and less gender-egalitarian places. I argue that unequal outcomes and affinities are sustained in affluent and reputably gender-progressive societies by a pervasive “different but equal” gender frame. Even where norms of male primacy are widely questioned, stereotypes about gender difference operate as powerful social forces to generate and legitimize alternative inequality forms.

I am an elected fellow of the Sociological Research Association and the American Academy for Advancement of Science, AAAS. My article with Karen Bradley, "Indulging our Gendered Selves? Sex Segregation by Field of Study in 44 Countries" (American Journal of Sociology) received the 2011 Distinguished Article Award from the American Sociological Association's Sex and Gender Section, and my book with David Grusky, Occupational Ghettos: The Worldwide Segregation of Women and Men (Stanford University Press) received the Max Weber Award for Distinguished Scholarship in 2005.

At UC Santa Barbara, I am Professor of Sociology (Department Chair 2008-2012) and faculty affiliate of the Broom Center for Demography and the Feminist Studies Department. Before arriving at UCSB, I served on the Sociology faculty at UC San Diego, and was a postdoctoral researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. I received a Ph.D. in Sociology from Stanford University, and Bachelor’s degrees from UCSB in Environmental Studies and Political Science.

Selected publications (+current or former graduate student coauthor)

Charles, Maria, Roger Friedland, Janet Afary, and Rujun Yang+. 2023. “Complicating Patriarchy: Gender Beliefs of Muslim Facebook Users in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.” Gender & Society.

Budge, Jason+, Maria Charles, Yariv Feniger, Halleli Pinson. 2023. “The Gendering of Tech Selves: Aspirations for Computing Jobs among Palestinian and Jewish Adolescents in Israel.” Technology in Society 73,

Blank, Carmel , Maria Charles, Yariv Feniger, Halleli Pinson. 2022. “Context Matters: The Gendering of Physics Coursework in Arabic-speaking, Hebrew-speaking, and Single-sex School Sectors in Israel.” Sex Roles. 10.

Yang, Rujun+, and Maria Charles. 2021. “Traditional Asians? Race, Ethnicity, and Gender Policy Attitudes in the United States.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 7:130–53. Special issue on Asian Americans and the Immigrant Integration Agenda.

Charles, Maria. 2020. “Gender Attitudes in Africa: Liberal Egalitarianism across 34 Countries.” Social Forces 99:86-125.

Charles, Maria. 2020. "Gender Stereotypes, Gendered Self-Expression, and Gender Segregation in Fields of Study: A Q&A with Professor Maria Charles." Harvard GenderSci Lab blog.

Jason Budge+ and Maria Charles. 2020. “Trends in Support for Stay-at-Home Mothering.” Contexts 19(2):71-3.

Wong, Yan Ling Anne+ and Maria Charles. 2020. “Gender and Occupational Segregation.” Pp. 305-325 in Companion to Women’s & Gender Studies, Nancy A. Naples, ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Chow, Tiffany+ and Maria Charles. 2019. “An Inegalitarian Paradox: On the Uneven Gendering of Computing Occupations around the World.” Pp. 25-45 in Cracking the Digital Ceiling: Women in Computing Around the World. Carol Frieze and Jeria Quesenberry, eds. Cambridge University Press.

Charles, Maria and Sarah Thébaud, eds. 2018. Gender and STEM: Understanding Segregation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Basel: MDPI Press. Also published as a special issue of Social Sciences journal.

Thébaud, Sarah and Maria Charles. 2018. “Segregation, Stereotypes, and STEM.” Social Sciences 7(7):1-19.

Anna H. Chatillon+, Maria Charles, and Karen Bradley. 2018. “Gender Ideology” in Handbook of the Sociology of Gender, Barbara J. Risman, Carissa Froyum, and William Scarborough, eds. NY: Springer.

Charles, Maria. 2017. “Venus, Mars, and Math: Gender, Societal Affluence and Eighth Graders’ Aspirations for STEMSOCIUS 3:1-16.

Charles, Maria, Corrie Ellis and Paula England. 2015. “Is There a Caring Class? Intergenerational Transmission of Care Work.” Sociological Science 2:527-43.

Charles, Maria, Bridget Harr+, Erin Cech+ and Alexandra Hendley+. 2014. “Who Likes Math Where? Gender Differences in Eighth-graders’ Attitudes around the World.” International Studies in Sociology of Education 24:85-112.

Charles, Maria and Jeffrey D. Lundy+. 2013. “The Local Joneses: Household Consumption and Income Inequality in Large Metropolitan Areas.” Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 34:14-29.

Charles, Maria. 2011. “What Gender is Science?Contexts 22-28 (Spring).

Charles, Maria. 2011. “A World of Difference: International Trends in Women’s Economic Status.” Annual Review of Sociology 37:355-72.

Charles, Maria and Erin Cech+. 2010. “Beliefs about Maternal Employment.” Pp. 147-74 in Dividing the Domestic: Men, Women, and Household Work in Cross-National Perspective, edited by Judith Treas and Sonja Drobni?. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Charles, Maria and Karen Bradley. 2009. “Indulging Our Gendered Selves? Sex Segregation by Field of Study in 44 Countries.” American Journal of Sociology 114:924-76. **** Distinguished Article Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Sex and Gender, 2011. **** Distinguished Scholarship Award Honorable Mention, 2010, Pacific Sociological Association, 2010

Charles, Maria. 2008. “Culture and Inequality: Identity, Ideology, and Difference in ‘Post-ascriptive Society’.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 619:41-58.

Charles, Maria and David Grusky. Occupational Ghettos: The Worldwide Segregation of Women and Men. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 2004 (2005 in paperback). **** Max Weber Award for Distinguished Scholarship (American Sociological Association Section on Organizations, Occupations, and Work), 2005.

Charles, Maria. 2003. “Deciphering Sex Segregation: Vertical and Horizontal Inequalities in Ten Countries.” Acta Sociologica 46:267-87.

Charles, Maria and Karen Bradley. 2002. “Equal but Separate? A Cross-National Study of Sex Segregation in Higher Education.” American Sociological Review 67:573-599.

Charles, Maria, Marlis Buchmann, Susan Halebsky+, Jeanne Powers+, and Marisa Smith+. 2001. “The Context of Women’s Market Careers: A Cross-National Study.” Work and Occupations 28:371-96. **** 2002 Nominee, Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research.

Charles, Maria. 2000. “Divisions of Labour: Social Groups and Occupational Allocation.” European Sociological Review 16:27-42.

Grusky, David B. and Maria Charles. 1998. “The Past, Present, and Future of Sex Segregation Methodology.” Demography 35:497-504.

Charles, Maria and David B. Grusky. 1995. "Models for Describing the Underlying Structure of Sex Segregation." American Journal of Sociology 100:931-71.

Charles, Maria. 1992. "Cross-National Variation in Occupational Sex Segregation." American Sociological Review 57:483-502.


Applied Quantitative Methods; Research Design; Gender, Inequalities: Class, Race and Gender, Social Science Writing