Bethany J. Nichols
How do some individuals thrive in the face of trauma while others struggle? My primary research stream builds an innovative sociology of trauma that theorizes and examines how and under what social conditions trauma affects life chances. Specifically, I examine the relationship between sexual violence and economic well-being in my dissertation. I show how survivors of sexual violence forge pathways toward financial resilience. I deploy both qualitative methods and causal inference techniques to gain traction on these issues. My dissertation shows that: 1) Resilience after sexual violence is common, 2) Survivors shift their understandings and behaviors at the micro-, meso-, and institutional-levels of the social structure to be resilient, and 3) The pathways to resilience are facilitated and constrained by survivors’ classed, racialized, and intersectional identities. My future research will use a new, mixed-method dataset comprised of 3,000 qualitative interviews to unpack the pathways between trauma, economic well-being, and resilience.
In a separate research stream, I use experimental and qualitative methods to show how inequality is produced and maintained in the institutional evaluative processes that mediate individuals’ access to valued socioeconomic outcomes—such as college admissions or hiring. Projects from this research stream have been featured in the Economist and The New York Times.
My research is published in Sociological Perspectives and Work and Occupations.
I am also a scholar educator with 12 years of teaching experience in the K-12, community college, and university settings. As a PhD student at Stanford, I was the instructor of record of The Rape Tax: Understanding the Financial Consequences of Sexual Assault (Spring 2023). I was a lecturer for Qualitative Methods and Fieldwork Overview with the American Voices Project at Stanford. I also lectured in Stanford’s English-language program for exchange students on Sociology of Gender and Social Stratification. I worked as a Teaching Assistant for a graduate-level experimental methods course and undergraduate-level courses on social stratification, interpersonal relations, and the sociology of education. Additionally, I taught in the K-12 setting in East Harlem, New York.