Department of Sociology & Anthropology

507 Chafee Building, 10 Chafee Road, Kingston, RI 02881

– 401.874.2587 (ph); 401.874.2588 (f)

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Helen Mederer

  • Professor of Sociology
  • Schmidt Labor Research Center
  • Phone: 401.874.4144
  • Email:


Professor Helen Mederer is a professor of sociology at the University of Rhode Island. She holds a B.A. in sociology from Muhlenberg College and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Minnesota. She is also jointly appointed in the Schmidt Labor Center at URI, where currently she is developing interdisciplinary courses on workforce issues and workplace flexibility.

Professor Mederer’s research, teaching, and service focus on how workplaces and work practices can be redesigned to be compatible with 21st-century workforce demographics: an increasing number of women, older workers, and caregivers. Her interests in sociology revolve around families, work, and gender, and the intersections of these social institutions.

Professor Mederer is also keenly interested in the social implications of population aging. She regularly teaches Soc 212 Families in Society, Soc 350 Work & Family Life, Soc 413 Gender Inequality, and Soc 438 Aging in Society.

Her research program broadly focuses on studying barriers to women’s participation in the workforce, and on men’s participation in family life. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Elsevier Foundation, and NOAA’s Sea Grant program. One of her current research projects is a study of women’s participation in and impact on fishery management policies in the Northeast. A recently completed project was an NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Grant, which focused on how to make employment practices more compatible with 21st-century workers’ lives on and off the job. In addition, Professor Mederer has been the chair of the URI Work-Life Committee since its inception in 2003.


  • B.A. in Sociology, Muhlenberg College
  • Ph.D. in Sociology, University of Minnesota, 1982

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