Kathleen Sexsmith, Ph.D.

Kathleen Sexsmith, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology

Areas of Expertise

  • Farm labor
  • Illegality
  • Gender and Migration
  • International Development
  • Voluntary Sustainability Initiatives in Agriculture
  • Gender and Sustainable Agriculture
  • Global Service-Learning


  • PhD, Development Sociology, Cornell University (2017)
  • MPhil, Development Studies, University of Oxford (2008)
  • B.A., Economics, University of Manitoba (2005)


  • Gender and International Development (CED/WMNST 420W)
  • Community Development: Concepts and Practice (CED 152)
  • Development Issues in the Global Context (CED 230)
  • Community-engaged Learning with PA Farmworkers (CED 497)
  • Qualitative Research Methods (RSOC 514)
  • Gender and Agricultural Development (RSOC 597)

Research Interests

My research program looks broadly at gender and rural development, with both domestic and international areas of focus.  In the U.S., I study how gender, legal status, and geographical isolation shape integration among immigrants working in agricultural industries.  In particular, I look at social networks and transnational ways of life in non-traditional rural immigrant destinations.  My international research examines the gender dynamics of sustainable agriculture initiatives, including voluntary certifications, responsible investment, and climate-smart agricultural programming in the Global South.

Outreach Interests

My work has a community outreach and advocacy focus, although I do not have a formal extension appointment.  Here at Penn State, I continue to build partnerships with outreach and advocacy organizations that support vulnerable populations in agriculture.


Gendered adaptations to climate change in the Honduran coffee sector
Women's Studies International Forum, Palacios, Hazel Velasco, Sexsmith, Kathleen, Matheu, Maite, Gonzalez, Andrea Reiche, 2023

Latino/a Farmworkers’ Concerns about Safety and Health in the Pennsylvania Mushroom Industry
Journal of Agromedicine, Sexsmith, Kathleen, Palacios, Effie E., Gorgo-Gourovitch, Maria, Huerta Arredondo, Ilse A., 2022

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: Can multinational enterprises lead the Decade of Action?
Journal of International Business Policy, Van Tulder, Rob, Rodrigues, Suzana B., Mirza, Hafiz, Sexsmith, Kathleen, 2021

Daily Labors: Marketing identity and bodies on a New York City street corner
Contemporary Sociology, Sexsmith, Kathleen, 2021

Impact of climate change from a gender perspective: Exploratory study, Velasco, Hazel, Sexsmith, Kathleen, Reiche Gonzalez, Andrea Celeste, 2021

Introduction, Sachs, Carolyn Elizabeth, Jensen, Leif, Castellanos, Paige, Sexsmith, Kathleen, 2020

Parallel Precarity: A Comparison of U.S. and Canadian Agricultural Guest Worker Programs
International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food, Weiler, Anelyse M., Sexsmith, Kathleen, Minkoff-Zern, Laura Anne, 2020

Gender and precarious work in agriculture, Sexsmith, Kathleen, Griffn, Megan A.M., Griffin, Megan, 2020

For-Profit Democracy: Why the Government is Losing the Trust of Rural America. By Loka Ashwood
American Journal of Sociology, Sexsmith, Kathleen, 2019

Labor shortage in the mushroom industry: Worker and employer perspectives
Mushroom News, Sexsmith, Kathleen, Huerta Arredondo, I, 2019

2019 Mushroom Employer Survey on the Labor Shortage, Sexsmith, Kathleen, Huerta Arredondo, I, 2019

Milking Research for Social Change: Immigrant Dairy Farmworkers in Upstate New York, Fox, C, Fuentes, R, Ortiz Valdez, F, Purser, G, Sexsmith, Kathleen, 2019

Leveraging Voluntary Sustainability Standards for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture. A Guide Based on the Sustainable Development Goals for Development Organizations, Sexsmith, Kathleen, 2019

Innovative Considerations in Faculty Development and S-LCE: New Perspectives for the Future, Kiely, R, Sexsmith, Kathleen, 2018

Farmworkers deserve better than Guestworker Act, Sexsmith, Kathleen, Coto-Batres, R, 2017

Promoting Gender Equality in Foreign Agricultural Investments: Lessons from Voluntary Sustainability Standards, Sexsmith, Kathleen, 2017

Introduction to the Special Section: Immigrant farmworkers in Northeast Agriculture: Life, labor conditions, and organizing for change, Sexsmith, Kathleen, 2017

The Transnational Lives of Migrant Youth on New York dairies, Sexsmith, Kathleen, 2017

Milked: Immigrant Dairy Farmworkers in New York State, Fox, C, Fuentes, R, Ortiz Valdez, F, Purser, G, Sexsmith, Kathleen, 2017

Milking networks for all they’re worth: Precarious migrant life and the process of consent on New York dairies, Sexsmith, Kathleen, 2017

Formulating the SDGs: Reproducing or Reimagining State-Centered Development?
Globalizations, Sexsmith, Kathleen, McMichael, Philip, 2015

This land is ours now: social mobilization and the meanings of land in Brazil
Journal of Peasant Studies, Sexsmith, Kathleen, 2013