Laura E. Rogers

I am a doctoral candidate at UC San Diego in the Sociology department. I received a B.S. in Sociology at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and my M.A. in Sociology from UCSD. Broadly, I specialize in the Sociology of Culture and Inequality with a focus on studying how culture helps reproduce and maintain unequal power structures. My primary research interests are Gender, Culture, Sociology of the Body, Symbolic Boundaries, Medical Sociology, and the Reproduction of Inequality.


Broadly, I specialize in the Sociology of Culture and Inequality with a focus on studying how culture helps reproduce and maintain unequal power structures. I have numerous projects that take on these questions. Each of the projects below look at how cultural beliefs (about women/men’s bodies, the homeless, and inequality) may have unexpected and unintended consequences.

  • Alexander Davis (Princeton), Bethany Bryson (JMU), and I analyzed reality makeover shows to look at how these shows (re)construct masculinity and femininity. Makeover shows have been critiqued for presenting unrealistic images of women’s bodies and femininity. In “Own It! Construction of Masculinity and Heterosexuality on Reality Makeover Television,” we analyze how both femininity and masculinity are portrayed and argue that the presence of men in makeover shows reproduces heteronormative and patriarchal power structures. This article was published in Cultural Sociology and can be found here.

    Abstract: Makeover television shows are notorious for presenting oppressive and unrealistic images of women, but a sizable portion of makeover contestants are men. What does this mean for the impact of such shows on gender culture? Using data collected from transcripts of five different programs, we find that gender, power, and heterosexuality intertwine within makeover plots in three ways. First, makeover shows link the promise of personal transformation to uncovering an accentuated femininity or masculinity lurking beneath surface-level shortcomings. Second, shows featuring male contestants make status and wealth central to their transformations. While female contestants focus on their bodies, men are offered opportunities and encouragement to engage in ‘manhood acts’ (Schrock and Schwalbe, 2009): deliberate efforts to claim membership in the privileged gender group. Third, makeovers rely upon heteronormative understandings of masculinity and femininity as opposites that attract. For men in particular, heterosexual relationships (whether real or imagined) provide the evidence within each episode that their makeovers have successfully rehabilitated their masculinity and their gender privilege. Thus the presence of men in the makeover genre reifies existing ideologies of gender inequality in which social status is a requisite component of masculinity, deference to men is a requisite component of femininity, and a male-dominated heterosexuality is a requisite component of both.

  • I conducted an ethnographic research project of a suburban homeless shelter within a wealthy community to better understand how volunteers and employees within a shelter environment understand their jobs and relationships with their clients. Using over 125 hours of participant observation and 14 interviews with staff, I look at how the cultural schemas that they hold about the homeless shape their interactions with the homeless clients.

  • Additionally, I am working on a co-authored project with Erin Cech (Rice University) and Mary Blair-Loy (UCSD) on STEM academic faculty. Using survey data, we analyze how perceptions of academic climate are altered by an individual’s cultural schemas of inequality more broadly.


Brief Teaching Philosophy

My goal as an instructor is to engender enthusiasm for the study of sociology and to foster an interest in the complexity of the social world that motivates my students to continue questioning the taken-for-granted, even outside of the classroom. In my classes, I utilize a ‘flipped classroom’ where the session is devoted to discussion and peer instruction. This allows us to engage with the material very closely and apply concepts and ideas. This in-depth engagement is imperative to provide the foundation for teaching analytical and argumentative skills so that they are able to engage in complicated theories critically on their own. These are skills that will serve them well, complementing the content knowledge needed to be a successful sociologist, as well as give them the freedom to explore what it is about the social world that they find fascinating. To accomplish these goals, I create a collaborative environment where students are actively involved in their own education. I also rely heavily on relevant multimedia examples so that they may learn how to engage with the theories and analyze their social world. This approach enables students to understand how theory is applicable to their own lives, fostering a sense of independence and enthusiasm that they can take with them to their own research.

I believe that in order to get students motivated to question the world that they live in and to engender the same enthusiasm that I myself have, that they must first be given the opportunity to be empowered. Teaching is first and foremost an exercise in having students learn that they are capable of achieving sophistication of thought, clarity of expression, and an awareness of the critical debates that not only are present in the curricula of the course, but broader issues that characterize the social world. I often refer to the classroom as a ‘collaborative environment’ – not a ‘safe space’ where people will not be challenged – but a place in which they should expect to challenge the readings and to work together to better their understanding. My goal is to challenge the unidirectional model of communication by encouraging students to teach each other, challenge my interpretation of the reading, and work together to come to a better understanding of complex theory. I utilize group assignments and structured discussion in order to achieve these ideals. By doing this, I believe that students are given the opportunity to gain confidence in their ideas, a necessary ingredient in fostering enthusiasm in the classroom.

Teaching Experience and Awards

At the University of California, San Diego I have held my own sections as a teaching assistant for 5 courses, ranging from Introduction to Sociology to Research Methods to The City and Social Theory. As a graduate teaching fellow through UCSD, I was the Instructor of Record for The Sociology of Gender (Syllabus). For a complete list of my teaching experience, please refer to my CV. I received a teaching certificate through the UCSD Center for Teaching Development after taking a 10-week course on best teaching practices, peer instruction, and how to foster a growth mindset in students. In addition, I received the Teaching Excellence Award through my department for my dedication as a teaching assistant.


This dissertation contributes to my broader research agenda by looking at the ways in which cultural beliefs about gender shape the experiences of men and women who have been diagnosed with cancer. The disruption to the gendered body that patients face makes gender and gendered beliefs increasingly salient. This provides a unique opportunity to study the ways that gender is challenged and reproduced from both the patient and the oncologists' perspectives.

This dissertation will answer the following broad questions:

  1. How do cancer patients and oncologists talk about masculinity and femininity in relationship to the cancer experience, particularly in relationship to changes of the body?
  2. How are these narratives tied to decisions about reproductive technologies and the reconstruction of bodies?
  3. How does the type of cancer or specific treatment shape the ways oncologists and cancer patients discuss broader cultural understandings of cancer and gender?

This research has been partially supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (award number #1519198). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The abstract is below.

For more information, please contact me directly.

NSF Abstract

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly half of all U.S. citizens will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime. In 2012, approximately 40% of all new diagnoses for women were for breast or gynecological cancers, and 30% of all new diagnoses for men were for prostate or testicular cancer. Those diagnosed often need extensive treatment, which can result in the loss of function or removal entirely of gendered/sexed body parts (for example, impotency or infertility or the surgical removal of breasts or testicles). This disruption of the gendered body that cancer patients face provides a unique space to examine the salience of gender in everyday life. I argue that when people's bodies are altered, they must find new ways to experience and understand them. This dissertation examines how cancer and treatment of the disease can challenge or reinforce cultural scripts that define the gendered body. While cancer and its various forms of treatment can be understood as disruptive, their effects on the gendered body have been neglected in academic study.

In order to access medical discourse surrounding gender and the body, I interview male and female oncologists, knowing that their position gives them the distinctive authority to prescribe solutions to the gendered concerns of their patients. In addition, I interview men and women who have been diagnosed with prostate, testicular, breast and gynecological cancer to find out how they view the changes to their gendered body and subsequent changes to self and identity from undergoing treatment. Policy recommendations are generally made based on studies focused solely on the experiences of women with breast cancer. Knowing this, it is essential to study the experience of male and female patients with various forms of cancer, in order to improve patient care overall. This dissertation also promises to make significant empirical insights to improve cancer care and will provide noteworthy contributions to the sociology of gender, gender studies, sociology of the body, and cultural and medical sociology.



PhD. Student in Sociology, University of California, San Diego
  • Advanced to Candidacy: December 2013
  • Field Exams: Cultural Sociology, Social Inequalities
  • Committee: Mary Blair-Loy (Chair), John Evans, Kwai Ng, Valerie Hartouni (Communications), Janet Shim (UCSF)
C.Phil Sociology, University of California, San Diego
M.A. Sociology, University of California, San Diego
B.S. Sociology, James Madison University: Harrisonburg, VA.
  • Minors: Women’s Studies and Criminal Justice

Research Interests

Gender and Sexuality, Inequality and Stratification, Sociology of Bodies and Embodiment, Sociology of Culture, Medical Sociology, Work and Occupations



Davis, Alexander K., Rogers, Laura E., Bryson, Bethany. “Own It! Constructions of Masculinity and Heterosexuality on Reality Makeover Television,” Cultural Sociology 8(3): 258-274

Rogers, Laura E. "'Helping Them Help Themselves': How Volunteers and Employees Maintain a Moral Identity while Sustaining Symbolic Boundaries within a Homeless Shelter," The Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 46(2): 230-260


Blair-Loy, Mary, Rogers, Laura E., Daniela Glaser , Y. L. Anne Wong, Danielle Abraham, and Pamela C. Cosman. "Gender in Engineering Departments: Are There Gender Differences in Interruptions of Academic Job Talks?" Social Sciences 6(1): 29

Cech, Erin A, Blair-Loy, Mary, Rogers, Laura E. "Recognizing chilliness: How schemas of inequality shape views of culture and climate in work environments." American Journal of Cultural Sociology

Non Peer-Reviewed

Rogers, Laura E. 2014. UC ADVANCE PAID Roundtable Report: “The Role of Contributions to Diversity in Faculty Hiring and Academic Review”

Working Papers

Rogers, Laura E. "How Gender and Control Shapes the Self-Identity of Cancer Patients."

Rogers, Laura E. "Reproducing Normal Bodies: How Oncologists Address Patient Concerns about Masculinity and Femininity."

Conference and Workshop Presentations

Pacific Sociological Association (PSA) 2015 Annual Meeting
“The Role of Gender in Understanding How Cancer Shapes the Self and Identity of Cancer Patients.” Long Beach, CA

American Sociological Association (ASA) 2014 Annual Meeting Roundtable.
“‘In Comparison, I'm Really Lucky': How Breast Cancer Patients Utilize Symbolic Boundaries as a Coping Mechanism.” San Francisco, CA

Association of Women in Science. NSF ADVANCE Workshop. Poster.
“Schemas of Scientific Excellence and Valuing Diversity: Consistent or Competing Goals among STEM Faculty?” Washington, DC

UCSD Department of Sociology Working Paper Workshop
“‘Helping The Helpless Help Themselves’: How Volunteers and Employees Maintain a Moral Identity while Sustaining Symbolic Boundaries within a Homeless Shelter.” San Diego, CA


American Sociological Association (ASA) 2013 Annual Meeting
Regular Session. “Recognizing Chilliness: Cultural Schemas of Inequality and STEM Faculty Views on Department Climate and Professional Culture.” New York, NY

American Sociological Association (ASA) 2013 Annual Meeting
Roundtable. “Reproducing the Normal Body: How Oncologists Address Patient Concerns about Gender by Utilizing Medical Technology.” New York, NY

UCSD Gender Beyond Boundaries Conference: Interdisciplinary Gender Conference
“Reproducing the Normal Body: How Oncologists Address Patient Concerns about Gender by Utilizing Medical Technology.” San Diego, CA


Pacific Sociological Association (PSA) 2012 Annual Meeting
Regular Session. “‘Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps’: Effects of Personal Characteristics and Social History on Racialized Perceptions of Inequality.” San Diego, CA


American Sociological Association (ASA) 2010 Annual Meeting
Roundtable. “‘Helping Them Help Themselves:’ Volunteers’ Contradictions Between Moral Identity and Reproduction of Class Boundaries.” Atlanta, GA.

JMU Sociology and Anthropology Student Research Symposium
“‘Helping Them Help Themselves’: Volunteers, Staff, and Class Boundaries in a Homeless Shelter.” Harrisonburg, VA


American Sociological Association (ASA) 2009 Annual Meeting
Regular Session. “Own It!: Gender Actualization in Reality Makeover Shows.” San Francisco, CA

American Sociological Association (ASA) 2009 Annual Meeting
Roundtable. “Helping Others?: Boundary Formation among Volunteers Working with the Homeless.” San Francisco, CA

Eastern Sociological Society 2009 Annual Meeting
Roundtable. “Own It!: Gender Actualization in Reality Makeover Shows.” Baltimore, MD

JMU Women’s Studies Colloquium
“Own It!: Gender Actualization in Reality Makeover Shows.” Harrisonburg, VA

JMU Sociology and Anthropology Student Research Symposium
“Helping Others?: Boundary Formation among Volunteers Working with the Homeless.” Harrisonburg, VA

JMU Sociology and Anthropology Student Research Symposium
“Own It!: Gender Actualization in Reality Makeover Shows.” Harrisonburg, VA

JMU Sociology and Anthropology Student Research Symposium
“Sex Sells: Analysis of Women’s Depictions in the Media, Specifically Superbowl Commercials.” Harrisonburg, VA

Teaching Experience

Teaching Certificate: UCSD Center for Teaching Development

Instructor of Record

UC San Diego Sociology Department
The Sociology of Gender
Summer 2015

Teaching Assistant

UC San Diego Sociology Department
Introduction to Sociology for Pre-Med
Winter 2015
American Society
Spring 2014
Urban Sociology
Winter 2014
Introductory Research Methods
Fall 2013
The City and Social Theory
Spring 2013
Introduction to Sociology
Fall 2011
James Madison University Sociology Department
Social and Cultural Stratification
Spring 2010
Sociology of Gender
Fall 2009
Intro. to Microsociology (Individual & Society)
Fall 2008, 2009
Naturalistic Analysis
Spring 2009
Spring 2009
Social Statistics
Spring 2008


UC San Diego Sociology Department
Social Networks
Winter 2014
Medical Sociology
Winter 2013
Sociology of Law
Fall 2012
African Societies Through Film
Spring 2012
Sociology of AIDS
Winter 2012


Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, National Science Foundation

  • Disruption to the Gendered Body: How Oncologists and Patients Understand the Cancer Experience #1519198

Dean of Social Science Travel Grant, UCSD, 2013
Sociology Department Summer Research Grant, UCSD, 2013
Sociology Department Summer Research Grant, UCSD, 2012
Sociology Department Fellowship, UCSD, 2010-2011, 2011-2012

Carl L. Harter Memorial Scholarship, JMU, 2008-2009

Accomplishments and Awards

Department of Sociology Teaching Excellence Award, UCSD, 2015
Summer Teaching Fellow, UCSD, 2015

AKD Undergraduate Paper Competition, 2nd Place, 2010
Best Student Film, UCSD, 2011 “Miss Understood: Drag and The Performance of Self”
Outstanding Senior of the JMU Sociology Department, JMU, 2010
Outstanding Senior Honors Thesis, Sociology Department, JMU 2010

James Madison University Honors Scholar, 2006-2010
President’s List, Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Fall 2009
Dean’s List, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2010

Alpha Kappa Delta Sociology Honor Fraternity
Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Fraternity
Phi Beta Delta Honor Fraternity


  • Organizer for Sociology Working Paper Workshop, UCSD (2014-2015)
  • Member of Student Affairs Committee for ASA Section Occupations, Organizations, and Work (OOW) (2014-2015)
  • Graduate Student Admissions Committee Graduate Student Representative, UCSD, Department of Sociology (2012-2013)
  • Department of Sociology Diversity Committee, UCSD (2012-2013)
  • Graduate Student Association Representative, UCSD (2011-2012)
  • Graduate Student Conference Planning Committee, UCSD (2011, 2012, Chair 2013)
  • JMU Sociology Club (President 2007-2008 and 2008-2009, Secretary 09-10)
  • Student Representative on the Sociology Search Committee 08-09: Reviewed over 200 applications, spent time with each candidate, went to five job talks, voted on candidates
  • Alpha Kappa Delta: Sociology Honor Fraternity, JMU (President 08-09, 09-10)
  • Sociology Student Advisor
  • Phi Beta Delta: Study Abroad Honor Fraternity (Community Event Coordinator 09-10)

Professional Experience

Research Assistantships

UCSD, Vice Chancellor Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
with AVCs Mary Blair-Loy and Natalia Molina

August 2014 – present

“Divergent Trajectories: A Longitudinal Study of Organizational and Departmental Factors Leading to Gender and Race Differences in STEM Faculty Advancement, Pay, and Persistence”
with Mary Blair-Loy (PI), Jeanne Ferrante (co-PI) and Erin Cech (Rice) (co-PI)

December 2011 – present

UC ADVANCE PAID Roundtable on “Contributions to Diversity”
with Vice Provost Susan Carlson, UCOP

October 2013- January 2014