Sara Goodkind

  • Professor and Doctoral Program Director, School of Social Work, Department of Sociology, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program

Professor Sara Goodkind earned a PhD in social work and sociology, a graduate certificate in women’s studies, and an MSW, all from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Goodkind is a critical feminist scholar whose work examines the structural roots of what are often perceived as individual-level “problems.” Specifically, much of her research and scholarship focus on social service programs and systems that work with young people, concentrating on young people’s experiences in educational, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems and how these systems both construct and meet the needs of the young people they serve. Dr. Goodkind’s research examines and exposes institutional biases and systemic inequities, tracing young people’s pathways through systems and providing evidence and recommendations for systems and policy change. Dr. Goodkind developed her research interests through her work with young people as a teacher, mentor, facilitator, and social worker, and she is engaged in collaborative community-engaged research and advocacy aimed at effecting systemic change.

Dr. Goodkind shares the editor-in-chief role of the feminist social work journal Affilia with Drs. Mimi Kim and Jennifer Zelnick. Affilia aims to publish articles that raise new questions, challenge assumptions about knowledge, present innovative theories and methodologies, disrupt power hierarchies, and link theory and practice through praxis. Affilia’s editorial board is convening a Critical Feminisms Special Interest Group (SIG) via the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR). This SIG invites social work scholars at any career stage who integrate - or are interested in - critical intersectional feminist theories and methods in their research programs. Its purpose is to foster intellectual community, exchange, and collaboration and to serve as a mechanism for advancing critical feminist scholarship and enriching the broader field of social work research through feminist theories and methods.

With Kimberly Booth, Dr. Goodkind is co-convener of the Black Girls Equity Alliance Juvenile Justice Workgroup. The BGEA is focused on eradicating inequities affecting Black girls in Allegheny County, and the juvenile justice workgroup is leading collaborative efforts aimed at systemic changes that disrupt pathways to juvenile justice for Black youth

Dr. Goodkind is part of the Pittsburgh Wage Study team, which documents the experiences of low-wage workers and the impacts of incremental wage increases on their and their families’ well-being. This longitudinal, mixed-methods study is aimed at generating understanding to support advocates, policy makers, and employers in ensuring that Pittsburgh is a livable city for all of its residents.

Research Interests

  • Juvenile justice
  • School-to-prison pipeline
  • Feminism and feminist praxis
  • Gender-responsive services
  • Participatory research with young people
  • Community-engaged research

Representative Publications

Goodkind, S., & Bay-Cheng, L. Y. (Forthcoming). Are my pants lowering your test scores? Blaming girls and girls’ empowerment for the “boy crisis” in education. Youth & Society.

Goodkind, S., Brinkman, B., & Elliott, K. (2020). Redefining resilience and reframing resistance: Empowerment programming with Black girls to address societal inequities. Behavioral Medicine, 46(3-4), 317-329.

Goodkind, S., Shook, J. J., Kolivoski, K., Pohlig, R., Little, A., & Kim, K. H. (2020). From child welfare to jail: Mediating effects of juvenile justice placement and other system involvement. Child Maltreatment, 25(4), 410-421.

Goodkind, S., & Ballentine, K. (2017). Feminist social work and political engagement: Working toward social justice through local policy [peer-reviewed editorial]. Affilia, 32(4), 425-431.

Goodkind, S. (2013). Single-sex public education for low-income youth of color: A critical theoretical review. Sex Roles, 69(7/8), 393-402.

Goodkind, S., Schelbe, L., Joseph, A., Beers, D., & Pinsky, S. (2013). Providing new opportunities or reinforcing old stereotypes? Perceptions and experiences of single-sex public education. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(8), 1174-1181.

Goodkind, S., Shook, J. J., Kim, K. H., Pohlig, R., & Herring D. (2013). From child welfare to juvenile justice: Race, gender, and service experiences. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 11(3), 249-272.

Goodkind, S., Schelbe, L., & Shook, J. J. (2011). Why youth leave care: Understandings of adulthood and transition successes and challenges among youth aging out of child welfare. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(6), 1039-1048.

Goodkind, S., Wallace, J. M., Jr., & Shook, J. J. (2009). Are girls really becoming more delinquent? Testing the convergence hypothesis for girls’ and boys’ delinquency by race/ethnicity, 1976-2005. Children and Youth Services Review, 31(8), 885-895.

Goodkind, S. (2009). “You can be anything you want, but you have to believe it”: Commercialized feminism in gender-specific programs for girls. Signs, 34(2), 397-422.

Goodkind, S., & Miller, D. L. (2006). A widening of the net of social control? “Gender-specific” treatment for young women in the U.S. juvenile justice system. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 17(1), 45-70.

Goodkind, S. (2005). Gender-specific services in the juvenile justice system: A critical examination. Affilia, 20(1), 52-70.


Areas of Expertise