top of page





My research is in the broad areas of social inequality and social movements. More recently, I have begun to focus on higher education. As a leading scholar in the areas of gender, my projects examine the contentious nature of the politics of gender, caste, and class issues surrounding rights – the management and control of resources such as water and land and access to health care specifically the politics of HIV preventionTopics I study include: state, state power, development and globalization, social movements (including transnational movements), gender and its intersections with race, caste and class. Special interest on India/South Asia. Much of my work adopts a global focus and draws attention to the ways in which disadvantaged groups, particularly in the non-western world, engage in daily resistances and collective protests to demand rights.


As the Butler Chair and Director of the Butler Center, I pursue research in the area of higher education that is focused on leadership, inclusive excellence, and faculty satisfaction. Some of this work has emerged from participating and leading the data analysis in the COACHE working groups convened by the Purdue’s Office of the Provost in 2016. I continued this work on post-tenure careers of faculty as the 2017-18 College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Faculty Fellow. 




Alcalde, M. Cristina and Mangala Subramaniam (co-editors). 2022. Dismantling Institutional Whiteness: Emerging Forms of Leadership in Higher Education. (In series, Navigating Careers in Higher Education.) West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.

M. Cristina Alcalde and Mangala Subramaniam (equal authors). “Women in Leadership Positions: Challenges and Recommendations.Inside Higher Ed, July 17, 2020

Call for book proposals with rolling deadline for book series, Navigating Careers in Higher Education, Purdue University Press. I serve as the Editor for the book series. See blog, 'What is #NextUP at Purdue University Press: A Series is Born and a Friend is Made.' 

Call for Abstracts for a Co-edited Volume with Chardie Baird. Working Title: Breaking the Silence: Institutional Responsibility in Women's Promotion to Full Professor. See here. 


Overview of completed/in-progress projects is at    

  • Climate and Inclusion - Reliable and Valid Measures.

Study Description is here

Detailed note on conceptualization and operationalization of measures for climate is here.


Hidden Hurdles and Gendered Recognition: Perceptions of Associates Professors. Section on Organizations, Occupations, and Work/Open Topics on Organizations, Occupations, and Work. Accepted for presentation at 2020 American Sociological Association Annual Meetings.


Gendered forms of recognition have implications for who is rewarded and how power is structured. For instance, in the academy women’s success is often attributed to luck or affirmative action. Such attribution adversely affects the recognition of women’s accomplishments with variations in experiences by gender as well as race and ethnicity. Structural conditions shape experiences and so women can get close enough to the ‘glass ceiling’ but few can break through the seemingly invisible barrier that excludes them. Though women have moved into academic positions in universities in increasing numbers over the past few decades, they are still under-represented at the highest rank, that of full professor. The ‘hidden hurdles’ in recognition of accomplishments in the two main areas of research and teaching can adversely impact and hinder women’s successes. Combining quantitative and qualitative data, I focus on associate professors to understand the effects of their self-perceived satisfaction (henceforth satisfaction) with nature of research and nature of teaching on the appreciation and recognition of (a) academic activities and (b) by others. Discussing the plausible hidden hurdles, I suggest institutional mechanisms for recognition and promotion of associates including strategies for addressing bias.



 Leadership and Racial Justice: Analysis of Statements by University Leaders (tentative title)

© 2020 Mangala Subramaniam 

Undergraduate Assistant for this project: Zeba Kokan 


Two crises are challenging institutions of higher education in 2020: the devastating effects of COVID-19, including the racism faced by Asian Americans and disproportionate impacts on African Americans, and the racial injustices amplified by the death of George Floyd. Issues of sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, and homophobia are not new to institutions of higher education. Confronting them has been the challenge. 


Racial definitions, exclusions and inclusions, are created in the same organizing processes that also create and recreate gender inclusions and exclusions, resulting in a much more complicated picture of differences and inequities. The organizing processes are embedded as the culture of the institution that lacks attention to inclusion despite the assumed shared-governance approach of higher education institutions. 


Leaders of universities make commitments to address racism in efforts to transform institutions. Debates continue about whether and how the response from university leaders about diversity and inclusion after the protests following George Floyd’s death when compared to similar protests in the past. But what do statements put out by R-1 Universities after George Floyd’s death convey? Do they describe actions taken/to be taken? How? What are the implications of the findings for leadership in higher education institutions? How can leaders move towards ‘mainstreaming’ issues of diversity and be attentive to experiences involving the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity, class, and immigrant status (foreign-born and First-Generation Immigrants). 


In the first phase of this study, we began with an analysis of the statements released by 131 R-1 doctoral institutions in the U.S. The analysis will comprise two parts: (1) a basic quantitative analysis of the statements by coding for specific concepts related to racism and (2) a qualitative analysis using grounded theory to conduct a textual analysis. 


Subramaniam, Mangala and Zeba Kokan. 2022. “As a campus community, we stand with …”: Leadership Responsibility in Addressing Racism on University Campuses.” In Dismantling Institutional Whiteness: Emerging Forms of Leadership in Higher Education (In series, Navigating Careers in Higher Education), edited by Cristina M. Alcalde and Mangala Subramaniam (co-editors). West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.


Building an Effectiveness Tool for Coaching and Resource Network (CRN). PI: Mangala Subramaniam

© 2019 Mangala Subramaniam


The Coaching and Resource Network (CRN) was created to support faculty members, specifically assistant and associate professors. Currently the CRN has a diverse set of 19 full professors from across disciplines and colleges. Although open to all assistant and associate professors, only women and women of color have elected to participate.

In a comprehensive review of scholarship on mentoring, de Janasza and Sullivan (2004), rely on past studies to note that complexities and challenges in within and outside institutions make the single mentor-mentee model insufficient. Faculty members may rely on a network of coaches who can serve different functions such as being a role model or providing career-related or emotional support (Corneille et al 2019). In addition, programs such as the CRN can have the potential to minimize barriers by decreasing isolation and alienation and increasing opportunities for collaboration. Initiatives such as the CRN can provide access to key scholarly networks or opportunity structures which build social capital and make mentees privy to the unwritten rules of the institutional culture and the larger discipline. 


Measuring the effectiveness and impact of such an initiative is complex. In addition to the very straightforward tangible measure of tenure and promotion, the tool is intended to capture its wider functions that perhaps has an effect on productivity.

The study is complete and data analysis is in progress. Designed as a quasi-experimental qualitative study, the main goal of the first phase of the study is to understand both Coaches (CRN members – full professors) and Mentees experiences with the CRN. Research questions include: How have CRN members coached and advised their Mentees (assistants and associate professors)? What concerns and accomplishments do CRN members perceive as being central to their conversations with their Mentees? How do the Mentees describe their experiences with their Coaches? What have they gained? What concerns and accomplishments do Mentees perceive as being central to their conversations with their Coaches?


References Cited
Corneille, Maya, Anna Lee, Sherrice Allen, Jessica Cannady, Alexia Guess. (2019). “Barriers to the advancement of women of color faculty in STEM: The need for promoting equity using an intersectional framework.” Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal. 38(3): 328-348.
de Janasza, Suzanne C. and Sherry E. Sullivan. (2004). “Multiple mentoring in academe: Developing the professorial network.” Journal of Vocational Behavior 64 (2004) 263–283.



In 2020, I identified a need for resources such as foundational documents that inform university policy. An example is the Best Practices Tools. The Tool about documenting impact of COVID-19 on faculty is the basis for, and referenced in, Purdue’s revised guidelines for annual assessment reviews/promotion considering the disruptions due to the pandemic. The Tool has been repeatedly cited as a resource in the Chronicle of Higher Education and was also shared with Provosts of the Big Ten and other universities. See here for the Tools.


Experiences of Faculty in Search/Hiring Processes

Attending the faculty hiring workshops required of all faculty serving on search committees at Purdue. This ongoing study is the first attempt at assessing the experiences of faculty members who have served on a search committee. This study is designed to focus only on faculty searches: tenure-track, tenured, clinical, and administrative. It does NOT include hiring of continuing lecturers, visiting faculty (any rank), post docs, and staff.


Research Questions

The following research questions will be addressed in the proposed study:

  1. What are faculty members’ experiences with serving as chair or as a member of a search committee? (a)​​How do these experiences reflect (or not) effective and efficient committees? (b) What are faculty members perceptions about creating (i) guidelines for the functioning of the committee and (ii) criteria for evaluation? (c) Are there differences in the experiences of those who served as chair versus a member of the search committee? Why or why not?

  2. What kinds of recruiting procedures are deployed? Which of them appeared to be fruitful? Why or why not?

  3. What are the dominant points/criteria used for shortlisting applicants for interviews? And do they match (or not) with criteria outlined before the start of this process?

  4. How are interview processes typically occurring at Purdue?

  5. How can we explain the entire process of hiring in terms of attention to diversity and to mitigating bias?



The study will rely on primary data from (a) a short Qualtrics survey and (b) semi-structured interviews. Study instruments will be available after completion of the study.


Completed Projects

CLA Dean Faculty Fellow Project - Presentation to CLA Senate, 02/21/17 Click here

Analysis of 2015 COACHE Data- Associates & Recommendations, Town Hall organized by Office of Provost, Purdue University, November 7, 2016.





 My research on water rights has led to consideration of land rights. I am currently studying the formal and informal organizing of women in semi-urban and rural areas to demand rights to land. The nexus between water and land is significant and community efforts to defend their resources have also turned violent. For women, it is a culture of knowledge without ownership. The repositories of knowledge embedded within communities, across men and women varying by class and caste can be drawn upon by policy makers, state institutions, and international agencies to facilitate the replication and scaling up of the accumulated expertise.

Over the last few decades many social initiatives and movements around water have been emerging. These movements have an impact not only on the local politics around water, but also on the macro level discourse on water and more specifically on water policy. Thus, it is important to critically examine some of these social movements around water – the factors that contribute to the rise and development (and sometimes even collapse) of such movements, their impact on both the immediate context – both in terms of time and space – of these movements and its interaction with the larger context of the policy discourse on water.


Subramaniam, Mangala. 2018. Contesting Water Rights: Local, State, and Global Struggles. NY: Palgrave Macmillan (imprint of Springer International Publishing).


 As globalization processes and related neoliberal agendas promote privatization through state action, people’s struggles for rights to water have intensified. Set within this context, this book examines the role of the ambivalent state in local   struggles for water, which are deeply intertwined with global forums that support and/or challenge privatization of water    resources. These local-global struggles have redefined the relationships between the state, corporations, and other social actors that impact the local politics of inequality and marginalization.

The book examines three cases of local struggles – two from India and one from the U.S. - to provide a local perspective of the mobilization and protests against privatization of water. The analysis of these local struggles is tied to the discussion of rights to water in global forums such as the World Water Forums and Peoples Water Forums as broader transnational coalitions that support and/or challenge privatization of water. The global water justice movement has enabled global networks that demand clarity on peoples’ rights to water. In addition to the theoretical contributions of conceptualizing the state as ‘ambivalent,’ the analysis in this book has policy implications for both the state and international agencies that are invested in developing mechanisms for maintaining water supplies and ensuring access to clean water by including local communities, particularly marginalized groups, in dialogues. These issues are also related to broader issues of environmental justice.


Related Publications and Funding

Young Lisa J. and Mangala Subramaniam. 2017. “Eco-critical Consciousness Meets Oppositional Consciousness: Reading Early Chicago Housing Activism Through an Environmental Lens.” Sociological Focus 50(2):198-212 (First online December 27, 2016).


Politics of Rights to Water (Blog, March 31, 2016):

Subramaniam, Mangala. Editor, Special Issue, States and Social Movements in the Modern World-System. 2015. Journal of World Systems Research (American Sociological Association’s Political Economy of the World System section journal), 21(1).


Subramaniam, Mangala and Laura Zanotti. 2015. Co-Editors, Dialogues section, Politics, Groups, Identities, 3(4).


Subramaniam, Mangala and Laura Zanotti. 2015. “Introductory Essay: Environmental Justice-Just Livelihoods.” Politics, Groups, Identities 3(4): 649-654.


Subramaniam, Mangala. 2014. “Neoliberalism and Water Rights: Case of India.” Current Sociology 62(3): 393-411



State, Privatization, and Collective Action: Water in India - 2007 Asian Initiative Research grant from Purdue University and ongoing



Supported by funding between 2012 and 2018, my research focuses on the ‘structural’ (that is organizational or institutional) aspect and specifically its variations ranging from the role of state institutions in addressing violence against women, community organizations as a structural intervention for HIV prevention.


Started in 2013, this project is based in Southern India. The focus has been on women in sex work (henceforth sex workers) and transgender people. With the support of an NGO, Swasti in Bengaluru (India), responsible for implementing the Avahan Phase 3 program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) in five states in India, I have continued the project.


Structure and Leadership of Community Organizations and HIV Prevention

This project begun in 2013 examines two major aspects of HIV prevention efforts: the influence of the structure and leadership of ‘community’ organizations (COs) on risk reduction and the mechanisms utilized by high risk groups to cope with intimate partner violence to reduce risk to HIV. High risk groups in India are sex workers, transgender people, and men having sex with men and ‘community’ refers to the community of these specific high-risk groups.


The intellectual merit of this study lies in its contribution to understanding the role of community organizations as structural interventions for reducing risks to HIV. The ability to incorporate the gender dimension of the spread of HIV and to address marginalized high-risk groups’ social position and access to the public sphere demands making choices that can be controversial. Understanding how community organizations as mentioned above deal with these choices matters to the state, local, and trans-local decision-makers.


While I have addressed the relationship between participation in groups or collectives and empowerment in her past work (cf. Subramaniam 2012), the case of HIV/AIDS requires consideration of a complex dimension related to the understanding of participation in community organizations by those categorized as high risk. The papers from this project shift emphasis from clinical studies to the social science lens for understanding behavior that will reduce risks. Examining the organization of existing HIV related activities can help potential public health agencies, including international agencies, and governments to understand how organizational models and their capacity could be leveraged to mitigate risks. My analyses examine which

models of COs can sustain activities contributing to HIV risk reduction requires analysis of characteristics that ensure long term feasibility and replication across risk-groups.

Coping with Violence: Women in Sex Work and Transgender People

This study examines how those categorized as high-risk groups – high risk to HIV - cope with intimate partner violence (IPV) because IPV poses risks to HIV. Some preliminary work began with the interview of women in sex work. A CLA Community Engagement grant in 2015-16 allowed me to conduct some individual interviews and also hold a 'by invitation' event only at Bangalore, India on December 28, 2015. Click here


Continuing the initial project, I am analyzing qualitative interviews with women sex workers and transgender people to understand coping strategies adopted to address violence. Most scholarly work examines the forms of violence (physical, emotional), little to no systematic research has examined the complex connections between coping strategies and the role of community organizations in sharing information about coping. I posit that community organizations of women sex workers and transgender people are repositories of expertise on coping strategies that members draw upon.

Policy implications of coping with intimate partner violence to reduce risks to HIV

In continuing the HIV prevention project, I am exploring the policy implications of coping with intimate partner violence to reduce risks to HIV. As part of her work as the 2017 Purdue Policy Fellows program to pursue this policy oriented work.


From Mother to Daughter: HIV Risk and Knowledge Transmission about Sexual and Reproductive Health in India

Based on open-ended interviews with women in sex work, I am examining data to understand the ways in which these women convey/communicate (or not) information about sexual and reproductive health in India.





Co-PIs (with Christie Sennott). From Mother to Daughter: HIV Risk and Knowledge Transmission about Sexual and Reproductive Health in India and South Africa. College of Liberal Arts Global Research Synergy grant, 2017 ($18,188).


PI, Coping with Intimate Partner Violence: High Risk Groups and HIV Prevention in India. Purdue College of Liberal Arts Exploratory Research in the Social Sciences grant, 2016. ($25,000).


PI, Intimate Partner Violence and HIV Prevention among Women Sex Workers in India. Purdue College of Liberal Arts Community Engagement grant, 2015-16. ($5,000). Collaborator -Swasti (India).


PI, Purdue College of Liberal Arts Global Research Synergy Grant for Faculty. HIV/AIDS and the Rights of Sex Workers. 2013 ($ 11,220)


PI, Gender and Socio-cultural Scripting: Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and HIV/AIDS in India, Kinley Trust Grant, Spring 2007 ($19,930).




(Spring) Fellow, Purdue Policy Research Institute, Purdue Discovery Park. Project: Intimate Partner Violence and Risks to HIV: Using Empirical Evidence for Policy Making.

Katie Carstens, Research Assistant through a Wilkie Undergraduate Research


(Fall) Fellow, Center for Behavioral and Social Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, Purdue. Project: Effects of Participation in Community Organizations of High Risk Groups on Mitigating Risks to HIV.


Fellow, Center for Behavioral and Social Sciences, College of Liberal Arts,

Purdue, for Spring 2011. Project: Integrative Theoretical Model for Analyzing HIV/AIDS Prevention Strategies




Featured in Purdue's 2017 annual research report with a theme of space + earth. See page 15


Building Bridges Across Gender, Race, Caste and Class


Strategies for HIV/AIDS prevention in Karnataka. Page 11 in Deccan Herald, July 20, 2016 [Deccan Herald is a leading English Daily in India] See or at The piece is also linked to the Purdue India interest group website created by the EVPR's Office:


Book manuscripts in progress

  • Embedded Knowledge about Violence: Sex Workers and Community Organizations

  • Empathy as Emotion Work in Research: Study of Women Sex Workers in India



Forthcoming book

Subramaniam, Mangala. Social Movements: Local, National, and Transnational Contexts (provisional title). Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming

This book focuses on the dynamics of social movements across the world – from their emergence, through the trials and tribulations of mobilization, to their tactical actions and consequences, and finally to formal and informal organizations within movements. Literature and critical readings on social movements focus on specific movements and also generalize from studies to answer questions and contribute to theoretical perspectives. The book provides a broad overview of movements in the non-western world (Africa, Asia, and Latin America) combined with examples from the US and will help focus on the theoretical implications of how international, national and local structures affect people in these places. In other words, how are larger scale structures configured locally? How does the interaction of the global and local affect issues that different groups are challenging—groups such as poor women, ethnic groups, indigenous people, and specific social interest groups. What methods and strategies, including the type of networks, do groups use to challenge these structures? The underlying assumption of this approach is that colonialism and current globalization structures interact with locally extant conditions to affect people in different parts of the world in similar and different ways. One task for scholars is to make these interacting structures more visible and this book will elucidate these issues.



Book (2006)

The Power of Women's Organizing: Gender, Caste, and Class in India (2006) combines a national level contextual analysis of the women’s movement with the specific case researched in her dissertation. It combines new qualitative data (that is interviews with activists), gathered between 2001 and 2003, with my earlier dissertation research case. Set against the backdrop of the political restructuring at the national and regional level in India in the post 1980s, the book draws attention to the rise of the dalit movement and focuses on the ways in which dalit women have visibly organized, nationally and locally, to challenge caste based discrimination. These challenges are embedded in collective action in villages and cities, in marches and protests against gender and caste related violence, through entry into formal politics, and in writings by activists. The two unique features of this book are: (1) the integration of rural women’s experiences in understanding the representation of multiple interests in the Indian women’s movement, and (2) the organizing of rural dalit women to challenge power and facilitate social and political change in the context of the rise of the dalit women’s movement nationally. Both these aspects are emphasized in tracing the dynamic trajectory of the movement to understand challenges to both overt and covert forms of violence that enforce exclusion and social control of dalits by upper caste groups. See review of book in the Indian newspaper, The Hindu, August 15, 2006: Click here


Also see review of book in Gender & Society, 22(3): 395-97, 2008



Keynote on April 24, 2014, followed by two panels on April 25, 2014. Flyer for Keynote Address: Click Here




At Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

Co-sponsored by Department of Sociology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN (USA) & Humanities and Social Sciences Department, IIT, Madras (India)


For pictures from the symposium Click Here

Announcing New Issue of Journal of World-Systems Research

We are happy to announce the publication of the Winter/Spring 2015 issue of the Journal of World-Systems Research<>, which is a special issue on States and Social Movements in the Modern World-System, guest edited by Mangala Subramaniam.


Participants from Purdue University:

Faculty Members

Mangala Subramaniam

Ellen Gruenbaum

Bert Useem

Made possible by a Purdue University ‘Engaging India’ grant to Mangala Subramaniam and the support of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences of IIT, Madras.





  • 2019: Featured in Chapter on Gender Inequality as Sociologist in Action: Mangala Subramaniam. Essay entitled: “Empowering Marginalized Groups.” In Ballantine, Jeanne, Keith Roberts, and Kathleen Odell Korgen. Our Social World. CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2019.


  • 2018: Featured in Dimensions of Discovery September-October 2018

Mangala Subramaniam examines inequality, social movements and how those who are disadvantaged organize to claim basic needs and rights, from accessing water to ending violence against women and reducing HIV risks. Read more. 

  • 2018: Quoted extensively in “The Effective Executive: Diversity is the source of strength in twisting times for a business,” DNA Money. [DNA is an English broadsheet daily owned by Diligent Media Corporation, an Essel Group company. DNA is currently the second most read English broadsheet daily in the city of Mumbai.]

  • 2018: Purdue’s 2017 annual research report with a theme of space + earth. See p. 15


Building Bridges Across Gender, Race, Caste and Class

Butler Center:

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Nine women, including one Purdue University professor, will be honored for their work in the community.


Spring 2014 issue of CLA Research Newsletter is now available through this link:




Deccan Herald (an English newspaper in India). OR see the epaper - Page 10, Feb 9, 2017 at

Also see Purdue's India interest group page:

bottom of page