Meet a Social Scientist: Dr. Homan from Sociology.

What is your name?
Dr. Patricia Homan.

What kind of work do you do in the college?
I am an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Florida State University. I am also an Associate at FSU’s Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy and a Research Affiliate of the Center for Demography and Population Health. I teach, do research and engage in service in the department, profession and community.

Why did you decide to become an academic? 
I always loved Sociology from the time I first discovered it as a Sophomore at Princeton sitting in a giant Sociology 101 lecture course. I had enjoyed science as a kid, so once I discovered the scientific study of social life and inequality I was hooked. When I had the opportunity to conduct my own research for the first time by doing an undergraduate thesis, that’s when I knew for sure I wanted to be an academic. But it wasn’t until about 10 years later when I was in graduate school at Duke that I realized how fascinating and important research on health disparities and the Social Determinants of Health was. I don’t think there was one specific moment, but certainly the influence of both my mentors Linda K. George and Scott Lynch played a big role. I should also give a little credit to my husband who is a physician. I think my passion for social science and social justice rubbed off of him, and his passion for medicine and health rubbed off on me. So we make a great team. Now I teach in both the Sociology Department and the Interdisciplinary Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health program at FSU and I absolutely love it.

What do you find most fulfilling about your job? 
My students at FSU are the best! Over the course of each semester, seeing them grasp the power of racism, sexism, and economic inequality to shape population health is always such a pleasure. Helping them get excited about doing their own research and/or applying the things they’ve learned to their own lives is also very fulfilling. Finally, seeing my students succeed and go on to great jobs and graduate studies brings me so much joy. It means a lot to me when they keep in touch and update me on their wonderful accomplishments.

What are you working on or teaching right now that has you excited professionally? 
There are several research projects I am excited about right now. First, I just published an article, co-authored with Dr. Amy Burdette, entitled “When Religion Hurts: Structural Sexism and Health in Religious Congregations” in the April issue of American Sociological Review. This article shows that the well-known health benefits of religious participation do not apply to women who attend sexist congregations that prohibit women from serving in meaningful leadership roles. For more information on this research you can visit the COSSPP news site: https://coss.fsu.edu/news/researchers-find-sexism-limits-the-benefits-of-religious-participation/

Or listen to a short podcast in which we discuss the study: https://journals.sagepub.com/page/asr/podcasts/index

Another project I am excited about is a study that is forthcoming at Demography entitled “Structural Heteropatriarchy and Birth Outcomes in the U.S.” In this study we examine how sexism and heterosexism (systems that subordinate women and LGBTQ people respectively) are both part of a larger system of heteropatriarchal oppression that can be harmful for population health.

Finally, I have several other ongoing projects examining the health consequences of racism and sexism in various way. I am excited to continue this line of research and continue collaborating with my wonderful students and colleagues at FSU and beyond. 

Patricia Homan is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Florida State University. She is also an Associate at FSU’s Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy and a Research Affiliate of the Center for Demography and Population Health. You can learn more about Dr. Homan here.

The feature image is from Pexels.

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