Spotlight Shines on Dr. Catherine Bowman, Assistant Research Professor of Labor and Employment Relations

Dr. Catherine (Cate) Bowman joined the center in August 2019. Her research focuses on structural inequality as produced through the U.S. immigration system. Her dissertation – “Flexible Workers, Fissured Workplaces: Cultural Exchange for Hire in an Era of Precarious Labor” – links sociological, legal, and labor studies approaches
Spotlight Shines on Dr. Catherine Bowman, Assistant Research Professor of Labor and Employment Relations

Dr. Catherine Bowman

Dr. Catherine (Cate) Bowman joined the center in August 2019. Her research focuses on structural inequality as produced through the U.S. immigration system. Her dissertation – “Flexible Workers, Fissured Workplaces: Cultural Exchange for Hire in an Era of Precarious Labor” – links sociological, legal, and labor studies approaches in analyzing the J-1 Summer Work Travel (SWT) Program, a cultural exchange visa that thousands of U.S. employers have come to rely on to secure short-term and seasonal workers by targeting foreign college students during their summer recess. Drawing on data that Cate obtained for more than 94,000 participants through a hard-fought Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process, she employed a mixed-methods approach of archival research, qualitative, and quantitative analysis of SWT demographic and labor market information.

The results of Cate’s findings were featured in a July 2019 report, Shining a Light on Summer Work: A First Look at the U.S. Employers Using the J-1 Summer Work Travel Visa. The report, a collaboration of groups like the AFL-CIO and the Economic Policy Institute, aims to educate lawmakers and the public about the need for program reform. While at CGWR, Cate is also working with CGWR director Mark Anner on an Open Society Foundations’ initiative to support union and NGO leaders in their development of a shared evaluation of their previous efforts, including gaps and strengths, and a common strategic framework for better aligning their work over the next five to ten years in the area of global supply chains and migrant workers’ rights. Cate will join the faculty of Austin College in fall 2020 as an assistant professor of sociology.