Caitlin Killian joined the sociology faculty at Drew University in 2001. She received her Ph.D. in sociology with a certificate in women’s studies from Emory University and her B.A. in comparative literature with a concentration in women’s studies from Swarthmore College. She teaches courses on gender, families, reproduction, immigration, and Muslims around the world. Her areas of interest include sexual and reproductive health and justice; motherhood; adoption; immigrants and refugees; Muslims in diaspora; intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, socialization and identity issues; women and work; and human rights (religious rights, women’s rights, and children’s rights).
Her new book, Failing Moms: Social Condemnation and Criminalization of Mothers (Polity 2023), is about the ever-rising standards for mothers’ behavior. Mothers are simultaneously revered and reviled, and they face not only their own guilt but increasing threats of jail and removal of their children for actions that were not considered neglectful or criminal a few decades ago. The book analyzes how the cultural norms for mothers and fathers differ including expectations of egg donors vs. sperm donors, criminalization of women’s behavior during pregnancy, and “failure to protect” prosecutions for mothers whose children were murdered by a third party – all examples that demonstrate how standards of contemporary motherhood are more about disciplining women than about helping children.
She is also the author of North African Women in France: Gender, Culture and Identity (Stanford University Press 2006). Her articles have appeared in Contexts magazine and The Conversation. Other publications include articles on sexual and reproductive health and justice in post-conflict contexts Review of Radical Political Economics, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the misuse of public health to control women Journal of Applied Social Science, children’s educational rights Educational Policy, decision-making about the HPV vaccine among young adults American Journal of Sexuality Education, white adoptive parents and children of color Family Relations; Sociological Perspective, immigrants’ identity negotiation Social Psychology Quarterly, Muslim women and the headscarf in France Gender & Society; Sociology of Religion, Arab women’s motivations for migration Women’s Studies International Forum, and highly-skilled immigrant women’s labor force incorporation Social Currents.
In addition to her academic work, she has also served as a consultant for the United Nations developing the online module on gender and sexual and reproductive health and rights for United Nations’ staff training and doing research in Turkey on how to better enable Syrian refugee women’s access to the labor market. With Jennifer Olmsted, she wrote a report for UNDP: Women and Work: Improving Gender Integration in the Livelihoods Response to the Syrian Crisis.
She lives in New Jersey in a blended family that includes her partner, her two sons, a step-son and a step-daughter, a dog, and a cat.