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WSU women to attend national leadership conference this summer

Seven women who hold teaching, research, and administrative roles at WSU will receive nationally recognized leadership training and development under a new effort launched by the university.

Kimberly Christen.
Christine Horne.

From the College of Arts and Sciences, Christine Horne, a professor in the Department of Sociology; and Kim Christen, a professor and director of the Digital Technology and Culture Program, were selected to participate in the program.

Nominations were made by WSU System President Kirk Schulz, WSU Pullman Chancellor, Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Chilton, Todd Butler, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Kate McAteer, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at WSU Tri‑Cities. Chilton is an alumnae of HERS’ Leadership Institute and has served as a faculty fellow for the program.

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WSU Insider

Service workers’ volatile shifts linked to high‑cost debt

Time, more than money, appears to influence whether service sector employees end up turning to so-called predatory lenders.

A study by Washington State University and Harvard University researchers found service employees’ unpredictable work schedules played more of a role in their reliance on high-cost debt than their income. Service employees work in industries such as retail, food service, grocery and hospitality as well as delivery and fulfillment – with many in the study sample working for the nation’s largest retail employers, Amazon and Walmart.

Mariana Amorim.

“The experience of schedule volatility is pretty common among service sector workers,” said Mariana Amorim, WSU sociologist and lead author on the study in the journal Sociological Science. “We found that the more schedule volatility people experienced, the more likely they were to take out expensive loans, such as those from pawn shops and auto-title lenders—or they use credit cards in ways that are problematic.”

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WSU Insider

WSU Experts discuss work linked to environmental justice

WSU experts in diverse fields, ranging from environmental science to sociology, economics, biosystems engineering and community building, will discuss links between their work and environmental justice issues during a free, public event hosted by the School of the Environment on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 1:30 p.m.

Seats are still available in the CUB Junior Ballroom at WSU Pullman. Registered guests can also participate in the event online.

The panel features educators from across the university whose work intersects the theme of “Environmental Justice in Rural America,” the topic of SoE’s 2022 Lane Family Lecture in Environmental Science.

Four faculty and staff members and one graduate student will provide insights about their teaching and research as well as related engagement opportunities for WSU students and the broader community.

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WSU Insider

‘Work is the most important way of proving your worth,’ and it’s making Americans miserable: professor

Jennifer Sherman.

In the early 2000s, Jennifer Sherman, a professor of sociology at Washington State University, went to study a poverty-stricken mountain town in Northern California for her thesis.

What she found upon meeting folks on the ground was that “every interview, people just talked about their own work ethic, somebody else lacking work ethic, or the value of hard work,” she tells Grow. Even in the absence of jobs, work remained key in measuring human value. With whatever external proof they could find, “people really, really did make the big show of letting me know that, ‘I’m a worker,’” she says.

Researchers and psychologists point to 3 pillars of messaging in American culture that hugely shape this thinking: the Protestant work ethic, the emphasis on individualism, and what gives one status in the States.

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WA troopers still more likely to pull over Native American drivers

Two years after InvestigateWest reported that the Washington State Patrol was searching some racial and ethnic groups at a rate one researcher called “disturbing,” the agency has released a new analysis of its stop-and-search data. The headline: “No systematic agency bias.”

In a news release announcing the study, WSU said researchers didn’t find “intentional, agency-level racial bias.” Statewide, they found no evidence that members of Black, Indigenous, Latino and other communities of color were being stopped at a rate higher than their populations and noted “minimal” differences between day and night stops, the latter a more widely recognized metric for determining bias. But WSU’s analysis of more than 7 million State Patrol interactions with the public from 2015 to 2019 found that state troopers stop Black drivers at a rate disproportionate to the Black population in King and Pierce counties, and found a similar disparity for Latino drivers in Benton County.

Clayton Mosher.

Clay Mosher, a WSU sociology professor who was not involved in the most recent study but conducted similar analyses in the past, said it’s “a good thing” the state is renewing the studies. He agreed with the finding that there’s no evidence of statewide discrimination by troopers. Still, Mosher acknowledged, the State Patrol is more or less where it was almost 15 years ago, when he and colleagues recommended investigating the search-rate disparities. Loftis, the State Patrol spokesperson, said the agency abandoned those studies in 2007 because of lack of funds.

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