Ruth Milkman is a sociologist of labor and labor movements who has written on a variety of topics involving work and organized labor in the United States, past and present. Her most recent book is Unfinished Business: Paid Family Leave in California and the Future of U.S. Work-Family Policy (Cornell University Press, 2013), coauthored with Eileen Appelbaum. She has also written extensively about low-wage immigrant workers in the United States, analyzing their employment conditions as well as the dynamics of immigrant labor organizing. She helped lead a multicity team that produced a widely publicized study documenting the prevalence of wage theft and violations of other workplace laws in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, and recently coauthored a study of the Occupy Wall Street movement. In 2012–13 she was the Matina S. Horner Visiting Professor at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute.
Milkman’s prize-winning book Gender at Work: The Dynamics of Job Segregation by Sex during World War II (1987) is still widely read and cited. Milkman also published a study of U.S. auto workers, Farewell to the Factory (1997) and a study of immigrant unionism, L.A. Story: Immigrant Workers and the Future of the U.S. Labor Movement (2006). She serves as academic director of the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies and is on the editorial boards of several journals. In 2013 she was given the Public Understanding of Sociology Award by the American Sociological Association.
Milkman taught sociology for more than twenty years at the University of California, Los Angeles, and directed the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment there from 2001 to 2008. In 2009, she returned to the Graduate Center, where she had begun her distinguished career in the 1980s. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.