Jennifer BrooksResearch Associate
Dr. Jennifer Brooks received her Ph.D. in Sociology with a specialization in disability from Syracuse University. She joined the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability in 2021 as a Postdoctoral Associate. Her research lies at the intersection of disability, intersectionality, and the labor market. Specifically, her work examines how certain status-based characteristics, such as race/ethnicity, gender, and disability type, intertwine with an individual’s disability status to shape their labor market outcomes. Jen has an extensive background in quantitative research and disability rights advocacy.
My research lies at the intersection of disability, intersectionality, and the labor market. I have developed several lines of research around these themes.
First, to advance the literature on the labor market disadvantages of persons with disabilities, my dissertation examines for whom, and under what circumstances, these disadvantages occur within a US-based context. Specifically, I utilize logistic regression techniques to examine how specific status-based characteristics, including race, gender, and limitation type, work in tandem with an individual’s disability status to shape labor market outcomes, revealing substantial employment disparities within this population. To understand some of the factors that may contribute to these disparities, I account for individual-level characteristics, policy factors, and state-level policies/characteristics in subsequent models.
While there is a growing body of work addressing the labor market inequalities among those with disabilities, this research tends to group people with disabilities together, ignoring the very real consequences of the compounding effects of white supremacy, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and other forms of discrimination. Thus, given the current political and cultural moment, I believe that it is now, more than ever, crucial to highlight the experiences of those most marginalized.
Although my primary focus is my dissertation, I am also interested in how people with disabilities feel about their jobs. Specifically in 2018, I wanted to know if—and why—people with disabilities have lower levels of job satisfaction than those without disabilities. While there are limited national data sources that can answer this question, I was able to use the General Social Survey (GSS) to find that people with disabilities report lower levels of job satisfaction than those without disabilities, partly because they feel a lack of respect at work.
Also in 2018, with the rise of the Trump administration, my work shifted more towards social justice, where I published a series of briefs and op-eds disentangling how the current administration’s policies, especially the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, have only increased the labor market vulnerabilities of people with disabilities. This more activist oriented approach to research was the primary motivation for my dissertation.
- David Pettinicchio, Michelle Maroto, Jennifer Brooks. 2022. Disability as an Axis of Economic and Labor Market Inequality”, Contemporary Sociology . 15(4):249-270. (DOI:10.1177/00943061221103313)
- Jennifer Brooks. 2018. Just a little respect: Differences in job satisfaction among individuals with and without disabilities, . 100(1):379-388.
- Jennifer Brooks. 2021. An Intersectional Analysis of Labor Market Outcomes. in The Oxford Handbook on the Sociology of Disability. 2021. Robyn Lewis Brown, Michelle Lee Maroto, and David Pettinicchio.
- Can Remote Work Solve the Employment and Disability Crisis: Implications for Employers & Workers with Disabilities. Presented to The Great Plains ADA Center and the ADA National Network . Virtual. 2023.
- An Accommodation for Whom? Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed the Landscape of Flexible and Remote Work for Workers With Disabilities?*. Presented to American Sociological Association. 2022.
- My Journey to YTI. Presented to The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement. Drake University. 2022.
- Presented to Lurie Institute for Disability Policy. Brandeis University. 2020.
- Race, Gender, a Disability, and Labor Market. Presented to American Sociological Association. 2020.
- Labor Market Disadvantage at the Intersection of Functional Limitations and Disability. Presented to The Society for the Study of Social Problems. New York, NY. 2020.
- Limitations of Disadvantage: Examining the Association between Functional Limitations, ADL/IADL Disability, and Labor Market Inequality. Presented to American Sociological Association. New York, NY. 2019.
- Does Disability Unite or Divide Families?: How Disability Status Impacts African American Family Interactions. Presented to American Sociological Association. Philadelphia, PA. 2018.
- Why Does Accessibility Matter. Presented to The Society for the Study of Social Problems. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 2018.
- Just a Little Respect: Differences in Job Satisfaction Among Individuals with and Without Disabilities. Presented to American Sociological Association. Montréal, Quebec. 2017.
- Drawing the Line Between Impairment and Disability: The Theory of Able-Bodied Acceptance.. Presented to American Sociological Association. San Francisco, California. 2014.
Honors and Awards
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Graduate , Syracuse University . 2020
- Outstanding Graduate Student Paper, Disability and Society Section, American Sociological Association. 2017