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Sheila M. Katz

Sheila Katz

Associate Professor

Phone: 713.743.1918
Office: 466 Philip G. Hoffman Hall
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Ph.D., Sociology, Vanderbilt University
M.A., Sociology, Vanderbilt University
B.A., Sociology and Women’s Studies, University of Georgia


Professor Sheila M. Katz uses qualitative research to understand women’s poverty and experiences meeting their basic needs, domestic violence, accessing health and human services, reproductive justice, activism, and education. As a scholar activist, her work is applied, feminist, and intersectional. Her first book, “Reformed American Dreams: Welfare Mothers, Higher Education, and Activism,” was published by Rutgers University Press in 2019.

In “Reformed American Dreams,” she conducted longitudinal qualitative research with single mothers who graduated from higher education while participating in the welfare system in the San Francisco Bay Area. She interviewed the same participants three times, in 2006, 2008 and 2011 with a 78 percent retention rate, and her research explores the needs of families who pursued higher education while on welfare, how families fared during/after the Great Recession, the role of grassroots advocacy organizations in their lives and policy issues for welfare reauthorization. This project received national funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Poverty Center.

Dr. Katz was the local arrangements chair for the American Sociological Association’s 2014 annual meetings in San Francisco.

She contributes to the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom project and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s Student Parent Initiative.

Prior to coming to the University of Houston, Dr. Katz was an assistant professor in the sociology department at Sonoma State University, where she was granted tenure and promotion in 2014. From 2003-2013, Dr. Katz collaborated with the community-based organization, Low Income Families’ Empowerment through Education, conducting community-based participatory research in the “Family Violence is NOT an Option” and the “Education Works” projects.

Current Projects

Currently, Dr. Katz is writing “A Love Story: Terminal Illness, Caregiving, and Egalitarian Marriage” (working title), co-authored with Dr. Daniel S. Haworth. This book is an autoethnography of her late husband Dan's journey with ALS and her role as caregiver. The autoethnography is based on essays, conversations, field notes, journal entries, video interviews, and other sources from 2018-2021 to address caregiving, career decision making, egalitarian marriage, death/dying, and the pandemic.

Her other current project is “Extreme Poverty: Deep in the Heart of Texas,” ethnographic research exploring the experiences of people living on less than $2 a day in the state of Texas and across the south. Preliminary exploratory research started in summer 2018, will develop further in 2022.


  • University of Houston Provost’s Teaching Excellence Award 2020
  • American Association of University Women, Summer Publication Fellowship 2016
  • National Center for Student Parent Programs, Advanced Scholars 2016
  • Nominated for Pacific Sociological Association 2013 Early Career Award for Innovation in Teaching Sociology
  • Emerging Scholar award by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 2011
  • National Poverty Center TANF Reauthorization Grant, 2011
  • SAGE/Pine Forge Teaching Innovations & Professional Development Award, 2010

Research Interests

  • Sociology of Gender
  • Sociology of Poverty
  • Inequality
  • Social Policy
  • Reproductive Justice
  • Qualitative Methodologies
  • Sociology of Education
  • Sociology of Drugs


Graduate Courses

  • Seminar in Gender
  • Seminar in Poverty
  • Seminar in Qualitative Methodology

Undergraduate Courses

  • Qualitative Methods
  • Sociology of Gender
  • Sociology of Poverty
  • Careers in Sociology
  • Sociological Theory

Selected Publications

  • Katz, Sheila M., and Daniel S. Haworth. 2022. “Hawai’i to Hospice: Terminal Illness during a Global Pandemic.” Special issue, Sociation: COVID-19, Disability, & the Sociological Imagination 21(1):123– 131.
  • Katz, Sheila M. 2019. Reformed American Dreams: Welfare Mothers, Higher Education, and Activism. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  • Katz, Sheila. 2019. “‘What’s Love Got to Do with It?’: The Embodied Activism of Domestic Violence Survivors on Welfare” Pp. 144-159 in Body Battlegrounds, edited by C. Bobel and S. Kwan. Vanderbilt University Press.
  • Katz, Sheila. 2018. “Pride and Hope, Shame and Blame: How Welfare Mothers in Higher Education Juggle Competing Identities.” Special issue, Advances in Gender Research: Marginalized Mothers, Mothering from the Margins 25:11–24.
  • Katz, Sheila, and Laura McGuire. 2018. “Intimate Partner Violence in Higher Education: Integrated Approaches for Reducing Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault on Campus” Pp. 417-321 in The Handbook on Violence in Education: Forms, Factors, and Preventions, edited by H. Shapiro. Wiley Blackwell Publishing.
  • Katz, Sheila. 2017. “Welfare Mothers’ Grassroots Activism for Economic Justice.” Contemporary Social Science 12(1-2):96–109.
  • Charmaz, Kathy, and Sheila Katz. 2017. “Subjective stories and social issues: Strategies for making connections.” Qualitative Methods in Psychology Bulletin 23:8–14.
  • Katz, Sheila. 2013. “‘Give Us a Chance to Get an Education:’ CalWORKs Mothers’ Survival Narratives and Strategies.” Journal of Poverty 17(3):273–304.
  • Katz, Sheila. 2013. “Connecting Students to Careers: Teaching Students about Careers in Sociology,” TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.
  • Katz, Sheila. 2012. “TANF’s 15th Anniversary: Are Low-Income Mothers Celebrating Upward Economic Mobility?” Sociology Compass 6(8):657–670.