Prof. Heather Hofmeister and Team - Research (under revision)

Our Research Topic: WORK

Interdisciplinary - International Comparative - Knowledge Transfer into Practice

Our research focusses on changes in work-life at the beginning of the 21st century. We examine emerging patterns in the meaning of work in the larger frame of human life, the function of human agency in the construction of work structures and the influence of work structures – including the manner of work and power relations within the work – on social interactions and individual behaviour. We look at consequences of these developments for individuals, social relations, families, work places.

The research in the specialty of sociology of work can be divided up into four different areas:



Our latest research projects

RISS Project: Intergenerational Transmission of Work-Family Trajectories in Germany

Project Team: Prof. Heather Hofmeister, PhD., Subin Chang, MA, Dr. Tomás Cano (External) 

This project compares work-family trajectories of parents born in Germany between 1930 and 1949 with those of their adult children (born 1958-1981) and siblings’ work-family and socio-economic status (SES) trajectories: mother-daughter, father-son, brother-brother, and sister-sister pairs, using the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). We aim to investigate the contributions of inter- and intragenerational similarity or divergence in trajectory patterns on the reconfiguration of social structure in Germany after reunification. With work-family trajectories, we mean sequences of marital status, parenthood, and the gendered division of labor. SES trajectories are sequences of educational attainment, occupational status, and income. We ask: 1) Under what conditions have sons and daughters reproduced or deviated from their fathers’ and mothers’ work-family trajectories? 2) Under what conditions are siblings’ work-family and SES trajectories similar or different? Similarity in work-family and SES trajectories within and across generations depends partly on support from existing social structure. Tremendous recent economic, demographic, and cultural shifts in Germany suggest that children may not replicate parents’ life course trajectories and resulting positions in the social structure, and that siblings may live very different life courses, with East-West differences likely. To compare trajectories, we attend to features such as movement or the lack thereof, the direction of movement, the sequence and timing of events and states, and rates of change. These features tell us how individuals move through and alter the social structure, not simply about the positions they occupy in it at certain times. We want to understand the reconfiguration of socio-structural dimensions of gender and SES in Germany in recent decades by highlighting the conditions that contribute to inter- and intragenerational dynamics in the Eastern and Western parts of Germany. For our empirical analysis, we use the SOEP: longitudinal survey data from a representative sample of about 11,000 German households and more than 20,000 persons. SOEP is well-suited for comparing parents and children and siblings because it allows survey respondents from two generations and siblings within one family to be linked and tracked longitudinally. To compare mother-daughter / father-son pairs, we employ data on children’s employment and family history with retrospective data on employment and family history from their parents. To compare siblings, we employ data from individuals in the SOEP who were born in the same household to the same parents Data on both Eastern and Western Germany is available starting in 1990; we draw on data from that year to the present.

Duration: 1.10.2021- 30.09.2025

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

This project is part of the DFG Research Group RISS / FOR 5173.



ScienceBurn: Science Careers during and after working at an Elite Institution (Heather Hofmeister)

Project Team: Heather Hofmeister, Prof. Dr. Anne Kronberg (external), Paul Sinzig, M.A.

Dates: 2016 - ongoing

The question of women’s lack of representation in science has received tremendous attention in the past decades.  One explanation for women’s lack of advancement to the upper echelons of science is their lack of presence in a given field at the entry and advancement levels. Another is the lower likelihood that women are accepted to elite institutions that provide or increase the probability of networks and visibility relevant for further careers.  What if both of these explanations are not the case?

In our project, we control for the quality of the academic institution by selecting one elite science institution in Europe that has an equal representation of women and men at the pre-doctoral and post-doctoral level, in a field where women have been strongly represented for decades.  We talk to current post-docs, current principal investigators, and alumni of this organization to see where people tend to go after leaving this institution and what are the processes by which they decide what to do next.  How can the exit of women from academic science be explained if the quality of the institution and the „pipeline“ are no longer factors?

CLBO Vertrauen in Organisationen

Project Team: Heather Hofmeister, Stelle zu besetzen

The project: Trust in Organizations

In these times of uncertainty in multiple areas of our material and social world the question of trust has renewed urgency. For workplaces, conditions such as intergenerational changeover, evolving roles and expectations on employees and on parents, and changes in the role of paid work in the life course are trust issues. Structurally, workplaces strive for employee and leadership diversity and inclusion and face pressures to bring in new leadership styles, coupled with more diverse ways of working such as remote work and flexible schedules or Results-Only Work Environments (ROWE).  Firms are thus important laboratories to understand trust – how it can be built, and how it can be broken, and with what consequences. And how it can potentially be restored. 

We the CLBO, with funding from the Karl Schlecht Foundation, are starting a research project where we need a sociological imagination to help examine trust within workplace organizations: between team leaders and team followers and among team members. We will qualitatively and quantitatively collect innovative empirical data within six firms with varying characteristics along size, hierarchy, and degree of digitalization.

We are hiring:


Current publications:

Cano, Tomás and Heather Hofmeister. 2022. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Gender: Paternal Influences on Children's Gender Attitudes." Journal of Marriage and Family. doi:

Zinn, Isabelle and Heather Hofmeister. 2022. "The Gender Order in Action: Consistent Evidence from Two Distinct Workplace Settings." Journal of Gender Studies:1-15. doi: 10.1080/09589236.2022.2115019.


We are exceptionally proud of our recent Postdocs, who have all achieved their goal of professorships:

Tomàs Cano: and

Anne Kronberg: and

Matthias Revers: and

Mascha Will-Zocholl:

Friedericke Hardering: