IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Q&A with Dr Katie Gaddini

Dr Katie Gaddini is an Associate Professor in Sociology, based in IOE's Thomas Coram Research Unit.

What might it surprise people to know about you?
I’m a qualified social worker! Before coming to academia, I worked as a social worker for five years in Johannesburg, Boston, and a mountain village in Peru.

How did you come to join IOE?
Having an academic job at a top institution in central London was a major draw. I was also attracted to the specific job task of teaching the Sociology of Gender – an area I love and have researched for many years - and being part of an interdisciplinary department of scholars.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
My book, The Struggle to Stay: Why Single Women are Leaving the Church is out on 8 March 2022. It is the product of research I began in 2013 and it also delves into my own personal story. Writing it was arduous and personally taxing, but I’m really proud of myself for sticking with it and look forward to sharing it with others.  

What is the focus of your research?
My research looks at evangelical Christianity in the US and the UK. My previous study, which is also the basis of my book, examines what it’s like for single women who often feel marginalised, and side lined in evangelical Christianity.

I hope that in reading it, women will feel less alone."

The current project I’m working on focusses on faith and politics in the US, which is a very exciting and rapidly changing topic. 

Something I’ve recently started doing is connecting with scholars in different departments at UCL. I am now an affiliate member of staff at the Centre for US Politics (CUSP) and the Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism and Racialisation. Meeting colleagues who work on similar themes but in different disciplines/areas is rewarding.

How you you draw on your research in your teaching?
One of the focuses in the Sociology of Gender module in academic year 2021/22 will be on gender and religion. I draw on my research with single evangelical Christian women in the UK and the US to examine how religious practices are gendered, the mutual exclusion of feminism and religion historically, and the ways that an intersectional approach to women's religious modesty in particular can reveal racism, classism and xenophobia. I find that students are really interested and engaged with these topics, especially as they are so relevant to the legal, political, and social landscape currently. 

What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love that our students are from all over the world, and we have such an international mix of students in one single classroom. They bring insights and ideas from their unique vantage points which means that I often learn a lot alongside students. I also have wonderful colleagues in my research unit, which makes work much more enjoyable.

What's the most important thing you've learned from your students about the subjects you teach?
Having such an international student body has pushed me to really consider how the core areas I cover in the Sociology of Gender play out in various contexts. For example, I had a student last year from Hungary who was interested in transgender rights in their home country. I learned a lot from this student, and it widened my understanding of the topic.

Do you think being London-based benefits the work you do?
When it comes time for our third-year undergraduates to carry out primary research for their dissertations, it’s tremendously helpful to have such a vibrant city at their doorsteps.

What other subjects outside of your area of specialism interest you?
I am increasingly interested in learning more about at faith and politics, and specifically evangelicalism in Latin America. I’m in the process of establishing a network called ‘Christianity and Politics Across the Americas’ with colleagues in Chile and Brazil, and it’s simultaneously shown me how little I know about Central and South America and how much I want to learn.