Jennifer Barber is a Professor of Sociology and a Senior Scientist at the Kinsey Institute. Barber's research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of family sociology, demography, and social psychology, with a focus on young pregnancy, intimate relationships, reproductive control, and intimate partner violence.
From 2008-2012, she directed the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) project, which was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. It included weekly surveys from 1,000 18- and 19-year-old women for 2.5 years, along with 75+ semi-structured interviews. Ongoing work with the RDSL dataset integrates statistical and qualitative analyses, and focuses on the types of attitudes, intimate relationships, and contraceptive practices that lead to young pregnancy and to women’s control over reproductive processes.
Current projects focus specifically on (1) how violent and/or demanding intimate partners derail young women's post-secondary education plans, (2) how and why the dissolution of violent and non-violent intimate relationships during the transition to adulthood varies across sociodemographic groups, and (3) how intimate relationships shape young women’s expectations and ability to control heterosexual intercourse and contraceptive use.
In 2020, Barber won the American Sociological Association Family Section’s “Article of the Year” award for her article, “The Dynamics of Intimate Partner Violence and the Risk of Pregnancy during the Transition to Adulthood, published in the American Sociological Review.