Culture ‘n Cuisine Presentations 8 November 2017

Works in Progress (Presented at Culture ‘n Cuisine 8 November 2017)

1. Caitlin Lombardi

Maternal employment: With no federal paid parental leave and a limited federal unpaid parental leave policy, many new mothers in the U.S. return to work soon after childbirth, juggling the demands of employment and parenthood. The goal of this study is to explore whether the links between early maternal employment and children’s school readiness have changed over time by examining how characteristics of mothers, children, and families are associated with selection into early maternal employment and how changing selection effects over time may have led to changing associations between early maternal employment and children’s development. Findings from the proposed studies will address policy questions regarding the repercussions of early maternal employment for children’s early developmental competencies with particular attention to differences across diverse families.

Early care and education quality research: Evidence suggests that the best way to close the school readiness gap is through increasing the availability, accessibility, and quality of early care and education (ECE) programs, which have been shown to have positive effects on low-income and minority children’s school readiness skills (Barnett, 1995; McCartney et al., 2007; Schweinhart et al., 2005). However, the implementation of ECE policies and programs has varied across settings and ages, resulting in differential experiences for children (IOM & NRC, 2015). The goal of this study is to identify variations in ECE quality characteristics between children of different socioeconomic (SES) and racial/ethnic backgrounds during toddlerhood and preschool utilizing a nationally representative sample of children born in the U.S. Findings will inform ECE policies aimed at improving the school readiness of children from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds.
Reference for IOM/NRC report:

2. Ryan Watson

Dr. Watson presented “A Sneak Peek: Findings from the 2017 LGBTQ National Teen Survey”. The survey – designed by Dr. Watson, Dr. Rebecca Puhl and the Human Rights Campaign – enrolled nearly 10,000 self-identified LGBTQ youth from 13 through 17 years in age, English-speaking, and resident in the US. It covered a large range of topics, including “outness,” overall health, support, school experiences, harassment, stress, substance use, and mental health. A majority of the respondents (64%) described themselves as either “cis-male” or “cis-female”; the rest of the sample identified as “trans-male”, “trans-female”, “non-binary”, “genderqueer”, or “other”.
Preliminary analysis indicates that nearly half of the student respondents reported significant levels of being teased or bullied at school because of their sexual orientation, and most conveyed a general disdain for their school counselors, e.g. “A few years ago my friend came out as trans and told our counselor. Our counselor told him she didn’t believe he was trans because he was wearing nail polish. She very rarely used his correct pronouns.” Among trans youth, about half of them reported trying not to use the bathrooms at school at all, and the number who had not “come out” even to their health-care providers was remarkably low.
Dr. Watson expects to be involved for some time cleaning and analyzing this remarkable dataset.

3. Charlie Super

“Comparing only two cultures always ends up an invidious comparison,” observed the anthropologist John W. M. Whiting. I and colleagues in the International Baby Study have previously reported a particular emphasis on “rest and regularity” by Dutch mothers of young infants (Bloemenheim), compared to a sample from the U.S. (Connecticut), and further that this contrast in ethnotheories is reflected in behavioral differences regarding levels of stimulation. Correspondingly, preliminary results suggest that infants in our Dutch sample have substantially lower levels of (salivary) cortisol than those in the U.S. The comparison seems very straightforward and, as Whiting surmised, potentially invidious. Now additional samples in the same study, from Seville (Spain), Padua (Italy), and Daejeon (Korea) complicate the picture: The Korean cortisol results are similar to those from the U.S., while the Italian and Spanish patterns of cortisol are similar to the Dutch. This increases the ethnographic challenge – there is apparently more than one way to influence infants’ cortisol, and we need to further explore the developmental niche in the Italian, Spanish, and Korean cases.
References: (1) Super, C. M., Harkness, S., et al. (1996). The three Rs of child rearing in Holland and the socialization of infant arousal.  In S. Harkness & C. M. Super (Eds.). Parents’ cultural belief systems:  Sociocultural origins and developmental consequences. (pp. 447-466). New York:  Guilford Press. (2) Harkness, S., Super, C. M., et al.  (2007). Cultural models and developmental agendas: Implications for arousal and self-regulation in early infancy. Journal of Developmental Processes, 1(2), 5-39.