Professor Julie Kmec to chair sociology

Closeup of Julie Kmec
Julie Kmec

An expert in work organizations and workplace diversity, Professor Julie Kmec will serve as chair of the Department of Sociology at Washington State University, effective Aug. 15, 2021.

“Bringing a wealth of skills and experience in teaching, research and leadership to her new post, Dr. Kmec is well equipped to build upon the sociology department’s long history of examining and engaging the challenges of our increasingly diverse and international society,” said Todd Butler, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Since the pandemic allowed us to reflect on our academic values, work habits and workloads, my vision for the department centers on utilizing these collective reflections to support and advance student engagement, graduate mentoring and faculty life,” Kmec said. She further envisions strengthening and expanding intra-departmental research collaborations and enabling more graduate and undergraduate students to be exposed to a wider range of career options.

Since joining the sociology faculty in 2002, Kmec has taught a variety of courses and has published broadly from her research into workplace gender and race inequality and the effects of organizational practices and policies on workers and organizations.

She has served on numerous committees at the department, college and university levels, and received several prestigious awards and fellowships, including a Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching and an Edward R. Meyer distinguished professorship.

Her collaborative research projects have won more than $1 million in grants from the National Science Foundation.

She is currently conducting research in Jordan, Malaysia and Tunisia to assess the contextual factors that encourage women’s participation in engineering. The work seeks to understand links between cultural context and expanding women’s participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) by studying economic, educational, socio-cultural, legal and political drivers.

Another of her current research projects explores the way personal beliefs about gender and merit relate to one’s ability to identify workplace sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Now editor-in-chief of the journal Sociology Compass, Kmec also serves on the editorial boards of Social Science Research, Research in the Sociology of Work, and Work & Occupations. She is an affiliate faculty member of the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology at the University of Washington and served in a similar position with the Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at WSU.

Kmec holds a doctoral degree in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and succeeds Monica Johnson, who will return to the sociology faculty after four years as department chair.

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