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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Lee Badgett

Second Advisor

Nancy Folbre

Third Advisor

Ina Ganguli

Fourth Advisor

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey

Subject Categories

Labor Economics


This project focuses on gender and anti-discrimination legislation enforcement in U.S. labor markets. In this dissertation, I examine the efficacy of existing legal and political institutions in place to redress employer sex discrimination. This work provides new understandings of sex discrimination by focusing on the experiences of pregnant workers, an understudied population that continues to lack adequate workplace protections. My research utilizes new administrative data containing formal charges of discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to provide new insights into the workplace experiences of pregnant workers as well as employer responses to anti-discrimination enforcement.

Chapter 1 analyzes the role of stronger legal protections for pregnant workers on workplace pregnancy discrimination and employment outcomes. Using a difference-in-difference approach, I show that the rate of pregnancy discrimination charges filed with the EEOC as well as the proportion of charges with a beneficial outcome increase following the adoption of a pregnancy accommodation law. At the same time, I find no significant employment effects for pregnant women. These results suggest that employers do not change their behavior in response to legal changes, but accommodation laws provide stronger legal recourse for pregnant workers to contest workplace discrimination.

Chapter 2 further examines the role of workplace pregnancy accommodation needs on women's labor market outcomes. Using data from the Listening to Mother Survey, a dataset that provides insight into pregnant women's workplace experiences, I highlight the needs of pregnant workers and examine the relationship between unmet needs and women's labor market outcomes.

Finally, in Chapter 3 I create a novel dataset of sex discrimination charges filed with the EEOC between 2012-2016 matched to establishment level EEO-1 reports of the sex and race composition of mid-to large-size private employers to examine the effect of Tile VII sex discrimination sanctions on women's workplace representation. I find that, on average, being found in violation of Title VII sex discrimination law has little to no effect on the sex composition of workplaces. However, I find heterogeneous effects across establishments with different organizational characteristics.


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Available for download on Friday, September 01, 2023