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ASU professor elected secretary of the American Sociological Association

Mary Romero at a table in her ASU office, with her new book in foreground.
July 17, 2012

Mary Romero, professor and faculty head of Justice and Social Inquiry in the School of Social Transformation in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been elected secretary of the American Sociological Association.

As secretary, Romero will serve as an advisory and recording officer of the Association, and as liaison between the ASA President, Council, and Executive Office.

“I am honored to have been elected ASA Secretary and look forward to working with the Executive Office, President, and Council,” said Romero, who will succeed Skidmore College’s Catherine White Berheide. “I transition into this position more confidently having been on the Council in the past and knowing how amazing the ASA staff is.”

Romero, whose areas of specialization include: gender and racial justice in the U.S.; gender, race, and work; critical race studies; ethnography, narrative, and qualitative methods; and Latina/o and Chicana/o studies, hopes to spend her three-year term as Secretary supporting the ASA and its various initiatives.

“I plan to continue ASA initiatives to improve membership representation, public understanding of sociology and sociological research, and media presence,” said Romero, who earned her doctorate from the University of Colorado-Boulder and joined Arizona State University in 1995. She has taught at a number of colleges including the University of Oregon, San Francisco State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

During her distinguished career, Romero has held a variety of leadership positions within ASA and has been dedicated to advancing the Association and the discipline of sociology as a whole. Romero has served as an ASA Council Member-at-Large and chaired ASA’s Race, Gender, and Class Section as well as its Latino/Latina Sociology Section. She is the first former ASA Minority Fellow to become Secretary of the Association.

Romero also served as the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies’ Secretary and Editorial Committee Chair and was a member of the Society for the Study of Social Problems’ Board of Directors. In 2004 Romero received the highest award made by the Society for the Study of Social Problems, the Lee Founders Award, for a career of activist scholarship; in 2009, the American Sociology American Section on Race and Ethnicity Minorities gave her its Founder's Award, for career excellence in scholarship and service. Romero is a former Carnegie Scholar, spending 2000 in residence at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning.

Mary Romero’s scholarship is nationally known for illuminating the plight of domestic laborers and the justice issues surrounding the structure of their work. In 1992, she published the groundbreaking ethnographic study of Chicana domestic workers in the Denver area, “Maid in the U.S.A.” The book quickly became a landmark in the field as an original and critical overview of domestic workers that combined a race, class, and gender analysis. A tenth anniversary edition was published by Routledge in 2002.

In 2011 her book “The Maid’s Daughter: Living Inside and Outside of the American Dream” was published by NYU Press. Romero offers an intimate, non-fiction look into how issues of culture, wealth, gender, and language shaped one life in particular. The book examines themes that emerged over more than 20 years of interviews and conversations between Romero and “Olivia Salazar,” a Mexican American woman who grew up as the daughter of a live-in maid in a well-to-do Los Angeles gated community. Romero’s painstaking research reveals a complex story of identity, belonging and resistance and brings to light the hidden costs of paid domestic labor that are transferred to the families of private household workers.

Romero’s significant body of scholarship served as the organizing focus for a conference at Rutgers-Newark in April 2012, titled Maid in the U.S.A.: Domestic Labor and Organizing. The event commemorated the 20th anniversary of the publication of Romero's groundbreaking ethnographic study. Romero keynoted the event and was joined by a panel of historians, sociologists, and activists from Domestic Workers United and the National Domestic Workers Alliance to explore the history of domestic work and the contemporary state of domestic organizing. 

Annette Lareau, Stanley I. Sheerr Professor of Social Sciences in the University of Pennsylvania’s sociology department, has been elected president of ASA. Lareau and Romero will begin their terms in August 2013, following a year of service as President-Elect and Secretary-Elect respectively.

“We are excited that Annette Lareau and Mary Romero will be joining ASA’s leadership team,” said Sally T. Hillsman, ASA executive officer. “Both Lareau and Romero are talented sociologists who have made many important contributions to the Association and to the discipline. We are confident that they will be vibrant and innovative leaders.”

The American Sociological Association, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

Written by Arielle Baran, ASA Office of Public Affairs and Public Information, and Maureen Roen

Media Contact:
Daniel Fowler,
American Sociological Association,
(202) 527-7885