Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Christie Batson

Second Committee Member

David Dickens

Third Committee Member

Andrew Spivak

Fourth Committee Member

Sandra Owens

Number of Pages



Although theories of group threat and racialized social systems can help explain labor market outcomes across racial and ethnic groups, they fail to account for gender differences in labor market outcomes. Intersectionality, the dominant feminist framework, suggests that identities such as race, ethnicity, and gender interlock to create a system of "multiplicative" disadvantage for minority women in the workplace. Additionally, contemporary changes in the labor force have witnessed increasing numbers of immigrant women entering the workplace - thus adding new challenges to the multiplicative disadvantages for some women. This study explores the changing pattern of Intersectionality barriers on labor market outcomes for women in the United States, focusing on the differences between subgroups of Latina workers and Black women.

Using Current Population Survey (CPS) 1% sample data from Integrated Public Use Micro Data (IPUMS) I examine women's racial and ethnic variation in professional and STEM fields from 2001 to 2011, and explore associated wage and salary income changes while offering two complimentary sociological theories within an intersectional framework that may be useful in racial and ethnic variation in labor market outcomes in the U.S. Bonilla-Silva's Tri-Racialization Theory suggests that lighter skinned, more assimilated people of color act as a buffer group in the social hierarchy cementing a place at the bottom for darker skinned, less assimilated People of Color. Alba's Non-Zero Sum Mobility Theory suggests that in strong economic periods the dominant social group will feel less threat and all groups, both White and People of Color will experience upward mobility.

The results of my study suggest that while Black women have higher odds of being in STEM/STEM skilled fields than white women, they do not see the same returns to labor. Of the Latinas in my study, Mexican women had the lowest odds of being in STEM/STEM skilled fields compared to White women, and the lowest returns to labor compared to their White counter parts. While foreign born women as a whole had higher odds of being in STEM/STEM skilled fields than U.S born women, Puerto Rican women had lower odds of being in STEM/STEM skilled fields than native born women. Similarly, with the exception of the most assimilated women, as assimilation increased, so did odds of being in STEM/STEM skilled fields compared to U.S. born women.

My findings suggest that undeniably, variations in race and ethnicity are associated with variations in labor market outcomes, though race and ethnicity race and ethnicity do not stand alone as explanatory variables in women's labor market outcomes. Indeed, nativity and assimilation are also associated with labor market outcomes.


African American women; Hispanic American women; Intersectionality; Labor market; Labor market outcomes; Minorities in engineering; Minorities in science; STEM skilled; Women in engineering; Women in science; Women of color in STEM


African American Studies | Latina/o Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Sociology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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