Ruth Milkman is a professor of sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and the academic director of its Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies. Her research focuses on work and organized labor in the United States. She has published extensively on low-wage immigrant workers in the United States, analyzing employment conditions and the dynamics of immigrant labor organizing. She also helped lead a national research team that produced a widely publicized 2009 study of wage theft and other workplace issues and coauthored a study of California’s paid family leave program, the first in the nation.
Milkman’s current project revisits a topic she explored early in her career: the impact of economic crisis on women workers. Through a comparative analysis of the gender dynamics of the 1930s Great Depression and the recent Great Recession, she is assessing the changes and continuities in gender, work, and family in the United States over the past century.
Milkman did her undergraduate work at Brown University and earned her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley. She spent 21 years as a sociology professor at UCLA, where she also directed the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment from 2001 to 2008. Her first book, Gender at Work: The Dynamics of Job Segregation by Sex during World War II (University of Illinois Press, 1987), was awarded the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize in Women’s History from the American Historical Association.