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Joya Misra's research and teaching primarily focus on social inequality, including inequalities by gender and gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, citizenship, parenthood status, and educational level. She tries to understand the role that policies play in both mediating and entrenching inequality, and her aim is to create more equitable societies. In all of her work, she considers how policies may work to both reinforce and lessen inequalities. Her work falls into the subfields of political sociology, economic sociology, public policy, work & labor, family, race/gender/class, comparative historical sociology, and welfare states. Her work has appeared in the American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Gender & Society, Social Forces, Social Problems, and numerous other professional journals and edited volumes. She edited the journal Gender & Society, a top-ranked journal in both Gender Studies and Sociology, from 2011-2015.