Aliya Saperstein

Professor of Sociology
Benjamin Scott Crocker Professor in Human Biology
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2008
Aliya Saperstein

Professor Saperstein received a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Washington and a Ph.D. in Sociology and Demography from the University of California-Berkeley. In 2016, she received the Early Achievement Award from the Population Association of America. She has also been a Visiting Scholar at Sciences Po and the Russell Sage Foundation.

Her research focuses on the social processes through which people come to perceive, name, and deploy seemingly immutable categorical differences —such as race and sex—and how such processes create and maintain social inequality. Her current research projects explore several strands of this subject, including:

  • The implications of methodological decisions, especially the measurement of race/ethnicity and sex/gender in surveys, for studies of stratification and health disparities.
  • The relationship between individual-level category ambiguity or fluidity and the maintenance of group boundaries, stereotypes, and hierarchies.

This research has been published for social science audiences in the American Journal of Sociology,the Annual Review of Sociology, Demography, Gender & Societyand Ethnic and Racial Studies,among other venues, and for general science audiences in Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and PLoS One. It also has been recognized with multiple article awards, and gained attention from national media outlets, including NPR (twice) and The Colbert Report.

Latest Publications

Journal Articles & Book Chapters

Westbrook, Laurel, Jamie Budnick and Aliya Saperstein. 2021. "Dangerous data: Seeing social surveys through the sexuality prism." Sexualities

Saperstein, Aliya, Jessica M. Kizer, and Andrew M. Penner. 2016. "Making the Most of Multiple Measures: Disentangling the Effects of Different Dimensions of Race in Survey Research." American Behavioral Scientist60(4):519-537.

Saperstein, Aliya and Andrew M. Penner. 2016. “Still Searching for a True Race? Reply to Kramer et al. and Alba et al.” American Journal of Sociology122(1): 263-85.

Westbrook, Laurel and Aliya Saperstein. 2015. “New Categories Are Not Enough: Rethinking the Measurement of Sex and Gender in Social Surveys.” Gender & Society29(4): 534-60.

Saperstein, Aliya and Andrew M. Penner. 2014. "Beyond the Looking Glass: Exploring Fluidity in Racial Self-Identification and Interviewer Classification." Sociological Perspectives57(2): 186-207.

Saperstein, Aliya, Andrew M. Penner and Jessica M. Kizer. 2014. "The Criminal Justice System and the Racialization of Perceptions." The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science651: 104-21.

Saperstein, Aliya and Aaron Gullickson. 2013. “A Mulatto Escape Hatch? Examining Evidence of U.S. Racial and Social Mobility in the Jim Crow Era.” Demography50(5): 1921-42.

  *2013 IPUMS Research Award, Minnesota Population Center*

Penner, Andrew M. and Aliya Saperstein. 2013. “Engendering Racial Perceptions: An Intersectional Analysis of How Social Status Shapes Race.” Gender & Society27(3): 319-44.

  *2014 Kimberle Crenshaw Outstanding Paper Award, SSSP Racial and Ethnic Minorities Division*

Saperstein, Aliya. 2012. “Capturing Complexity in the United States: Which Aspects of Race Matter and When?” Ethnic and Racial Studies35(8): 1484-1502.

Saperstein, Aliya and Andrew M. Penner. 2012. “Racial Fluidity and Inequality in the United States.” American Journal of Sociology118(3): 676-727.

    *2013 Roger V. Gould Prize, American Journal of Sociology*

    *2014 Oliver Cromwell Cox Best Article Award, ASA Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities*


Bldg. 120, rm. 234

Office Hours

Office Hours

Summer: by appointment