Date(s) - 10/20/2021
8:00 pm - 9:15 pm


The Tolls of Uncertainty: How Privilege and the Guilt Gap Shape Unemployment in America

October 20, 2021, at 8:00 p.m. – 9:15 p.m., Eastern time


Sarah Damaske, Ph.D.


Through the intimate stories of those seeking work, The Tolls of Uncertainty offers a startling look at the nation’s unemployment system—who it helps, who it hurts, and what, if anything, we can do to make it fair. Drawing on interviews with one hundred men and women who have lost jobs across Pennsylvania, Sarah Damaske examines the ways unemployment shapes families, finances, health, and the job hunt. Damaske demonstrates that commonly held views of unemployment are either incomplete or just plain wrong. Shaped by a person’s gender and class, unemployment generates new inequalities that cast uncertainties on the search for work and on life chances beyond the world of work, threatening opportunity in America.

Event attendees can use the code: DAMA at the Princeton University Press website to get 30% off The Tolls of Uncertainty: How Privilege and the Guilt Gap Shape Unemployment in America.


  • Expectations about work: what are the different work patterns that women follow?
  • Research findings on job loss, gender, and class
  • The tolls of uncertainty: fallout after job loss
    • Insecurity after the job loss
    • The “guilt gap” and health
    • The “guilt gap” and the second shift.
    • Policy implications
  • Unemployment system and its implications.
  • Research findings on relationship between unemployment system, gender, and class

SHRM/HRCI Recertification Credits: 1.25 credits approved

Pre-Workshop Assignments



  • No cost for VLERA members
  • $5.00 cost for non-members


This webinar will be held via Zoom. Zoom link will be provided via e-mail the day of the presentation.

To reserve your space click on the following link and complete the registration form on the bottom of the page.

Please note, if you are a VLERA member you must log in before registering for the event.

Presenter Bio

Sarah Damaske is a scholar of unemployment, work-family, and gender. She is an associate professor of sociology and labor and employment relations at Pennsylvania State University, where she serves as the Associate Director of the Population Research Institute. Dr. Damaske is the Vice President of the international organization, the Work-Family Researchers Network.

Dr. Damaske’s research focuses on how work and family transitions lead to cumulating inequalities over the life course. Her research agenda investigates inequalities through three main streams: the relationships between unemployment and inequality, research on how class, race, and gender shape workforce participation over the life course, and a focus on the relationships between work-family and health.

Dr. Damaske is the author of three books, including The Tolls of Uncertainty: How Privilege and the Guilt Gap Shape Unemployment in America published by Princeton University Press in May 2021. The Tolls of Uncertainty paints an intimate portrait of the American unemployment system and the ways unemployment shapes families, finances, health, and the job hunt.

Dr. Damaske’s books also include The Science and Art of Interviewing (Oxford, 2020, co-authored with Kathleen Gerson) and For the Family: How Class and Gender Shape Women’s Work (Oxford 2011), which was named one of the “most influential books published on the family since 2000” by Contemporary Sociology.

Recently, she has published on the relationship between men’s earnings over their lives and their health at middle-age, how work and family experiences shape women’s experience of stress, on women’s work trajectories, and on how class and gender shape job searches during unemployment in the American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Demography, and Gender & Society.

Support for her research has been provided by organizations including the National Science Foundation, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the American Sociological Association, and the Work-Family Research Network.

With the support of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Dr. Damaske and long-time collaborator, Dr. Adrianne Frech, are examining the effects of longitudinal unemployment on health in a series of papers.

In a paper led by Penn State colleague, Dr. Léa Pessin, Dr. Damaske and colleagues examine the relationship between race and education in women’s work-family trajectories over time. In a new paper, Drs. Damaske and Frech, along with Penn State doctoral candidate, Jane Lankes, ask if men’s employment is as stable as commonly thought.

Currently, Dr. Damaske is a co-investigator on the Pathways of Education and Careers in Computer Science, Engineering, & Mathematics Study at Penn State. This study’s goal is to identify potentially malleable factors that may be targets for intervention.

Dr. Damaske is a frequent invited guest speaker, panelist, and keynote speaker at international conferences, universities, and events. Dr. Damaske’s research is regularly cited in the media, including multiple stories in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and NPR, as well as featured stories in the Wall Street Journal, ABC Nightly News, and the BBC. She also writes for mainstream audiences with pieces in Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today, and the London School of Economics blog.


Bookings are closed for this event.

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