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Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, Penn State

I am interested in children's and adolescents' family relationships, roles, and everyday activities. Highlighted in my work are sibling relationship dynamics and the family experiences that foster similarities and differences in the interests, attributes, and developmental trajectories of sisters and brothers. My earlier research on children's and adolescents' family experiences pointed to the significance of gender dynamics in everyday family life and served as a basis for my current interest in the family as a context for gender socialization. The extent to which sisters versus brothers assume different family roles, experience different kinds of relationships with their parents, and have access to different kinds of resources and opportunities are important ways in which families differ. I am interested in the ways in which such family dynamics are linked to girls' and boys' well-being and development. A body of research has uncovered sex differences in a range of adjustment problems in childhood and adolescence, with problems such as depression and weight concerns more common in girls and risky behaviors and conduct problems more common in boys. Findings such as these suggest that the study of gender socialization in the family may be central to an understanding of child and adolescent mental health and adjustment. I am also interested in how gender dynamics in families are connected to the choices girls and boys make later in adolescence in the areas of education, career, and family formation, choices that play a defining role in adult life.


  • –present
    Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University