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As a qualitative sociologist, I am interested in how gender, culture, and leisure intersect in contemporary society, with a focus on women having fun through the life course.  



My first research project is about how women quilt for fun.  I started doing research on US leisure quilters in 1996 while I was pursuing my PhD at the University of Georgia (2001).  This project became my dissertation work, and I continue to study how and why women and men pursue creative activities. 


This research has taken me to Canada, Mexico, Ireland, France, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, England, and Australia to present my work. I have studied quilters in the US, Ireland and England, noting similarities and differences; I've also studied North American handcrafters, looking at how they negotiate family, age, and other barriers in order to spend time doing what they enjoy.


This original work has expanded to include research on craftivism, guerrilla knitting, and most recently, documenting and analyzing the groundswell of PPE-making in the US by sewists and quilters, and 3D printing enthusiasts during COVID-19. 

A second project centers on the emergence of the Red Hat Society. How midlife women engage in leisure,  the positive spin on aging, and the social benefits of belonging to such an organization, are all part of this research project.

​At the University of Northern Iowa, I teach Introduction to Sociology on a regular basis, and encourage students to develop a sociological imagination to assist in understanding the world around them.  I also teach courses in my substantive areas of Gender and Culture, weaving in Qualitative Methods as students often engage in independent research projects in my classes.

Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Criminology
Bartlett Hall 2112

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0513
Tel:   319-273-6235

Fax:  319-273-7104


Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Sociology

  • Social Problems

  • Sociology of Gender

  • Sociology of Culture

  • Qualitative Methods

  • The Sociological Career

  • Social Movements

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