Hamilton L. “The Revised MRS: Gender Complementarity at College. ” Gender & Society. 2014;28:236–264.
Hamilton L, Geist C, Powell B. Marital Name Change as a Window into Gender Attitudes. Gender & Society. 2011;25(2):145–175.

The need to revise scholars’ approach to the measurement of gender attitudes — long dominated by the separate-spheres paradigm — is growing increasingly timely as women’s share of the labor force approaches parity with men’s. Recent years have seen revived interest in marital name change as a gendered practice with the potential to aid in this task; however, scholars have yet to test its effectiveness as one possible indicator of gender attitudes. In this article we present views toward marital name change as a potential window into contemporary gender attitudes and most centrally as an illustration of the types of measures that hold great potential for attitudinal research. Using quantitative analyses from a national survey, we show that views on name change reflect expected sociodemographic cleavages and are more strongly linked to a wide array of other gender-related attitudes than are views regarding gendered separate spheres — even net of sociodemographic factors. We then turn to interlinked qualitative data to illustrate three reasons why name-change measures so effectively capture broader beliefs about gender. We conclude by looking at what attitudes about name change can tell us about future directions for the conceptualization and measurement of gender attitudes.

Hamilton L, Armstrong EA. Gendered Sexuality in Young Adulthood: Double Binds and Flawed Options. Gender & Society. 2009;23(5):589–616.

Current work on hooking up — or casual sexual activity on college campuses — takes an individualistic, "battle of the sexes" approach and underestimates the importance of college as a classed location. The authors employ an interactional, intersectional approach using longitudinal ethnographic and interview data on a group of college women’s sexual and romantic careers. They find that heterosexual college women contend with public gender beliefs about women’s sexuality that reinforce male dominance across both hookups and committed relationships. The four-year university, however, also reflects a privileged path to adulthood. The authors show that it is characterized by a classed self-development imperative that discourages relationships but makes hooking up appealing. Experiences of this structural conflict vary. More privileged women struggle to meet gender and class guidelines for sexual behavior, placing them in double binds. Less privileged women find the class beliefs of the university foreign and hostile to their sexual and romantic logics.

Hamilton L. Trading on Heterosexuality: College Women’s Gender Strategies and Homophobia. Gender & Society. 2007;21(2):145–172.

In this study, the author uses ethnographic and interview data from a women’s floor in a university residence hall to examine how some heterosexual women’s gender strategies contribute to their homophobia. The author describes a prevailing heterosexual erotic market on campus — the Greek party scene — and the status hierarchy linked to it. Within this hierarchy, heterosexual women assign lesbians low rank because of their assumed disinterest in the erotic market and perceived inability to acquire men’s erotic attention. Active partiers invest more in this social world and prefer higher levels of social distance from lesbians than do others. These women also engage in same-sex eroticism primarily designated for a male audience. They define their behaviors as heterosexual, reducing the spaces in which lesbians can be comfortable. Finally, the author concludes by discussing the unique nature of women’s homophobia and the links between sexism and heterosexism.

Hamilton L, Cheng S, Powell B. Adoptive Parents, Adaptive Parents: Evaluating the Importance of Biological Ties for Parental Investment. American Sociological Review. 2007;72(1):95–116.

Contemporary legal and scholarly debates emphasize the importance of biological parents for children’s well-being. Scholarship in this vein often relies on stepparent families even though adoptive families provide an ideal opportunity to explore the role of biology in family life. In this study, we compare two-adoptive-parent families with other families on one key characteristic — parental investment. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten-First Grade Waves (ECLS-K), basic group comparisons reveal an adoptive advantage over all family types. This advantage is due in part to the socioeconomic differences between adoptive and other families. Once we control for these factors, two-adoptive-parent families invest at similar levels as two biological-parent families but still at significantly higher levels in most resources than other types of families. These findings are inconsistent with the expectations of sociological family structure explanations, which highlight barriers to parental investment in nontraditional families, and volutionary science’s kin selection theory, which maintains that parents are genetically predisposed to invest in biological children. Instead, these patterns suggest that adoptive parents enrich their children’s lives to compensate for the lack of biological ties and the extra challenges of adoption.

Hamilton LT. Parenting to a Degree: How Family Matters for College Women's Success. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 2016.


Cheng S, Hamilton L, Missari S, Ma J. “Sexual Subjectivity among Adolescent Girls: Social Disadvantage and Young Adult Outcomes. ” Social Forces. 2014;93:515–544.