Marjukka Ollilainen (2015)
Described by students as a gifted, fascinating professor, Ollilainen joined the WSU faculty in 1999. She serves now as chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology in the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences. During her tenure, Ollilainen has taught 15 different courses on topics such as class division and gender inequity.
“The admiration that her students show for her is particularly noteworthy, given that she deals with topics that often make students uncomfortable,” wrote Susan Matt, history department chair, in a nominating letter. “That she succeeds at making these issues relevant and accessible speaks to her skill as a model professor. She is extremely well-prepared, has great mastery of her subject and comes armed with interesting and provocative questions for each class.”
Ollilainen’s research has led to a number of articles on gender and work, examining both for-profit and nonprofit organizations and how they function. Her current focus is maternal leave policies in academia. She co-wrote “Carving a ‘Third Path’: Faculty Parent’s Resistance to the Ideal Academic Worker Norm,” which was published in 2014 in the edited book Gender Transformation in the Academy.
Ollilainen’s research is cross-cultural, examining both American and European workplaces and is published in both English and Finnish sociology journals and books.
“The cross-cultural study gives me great examples to bring to the classroom about how work and parenthood can be organized in ways that working mothers and fathers can do both,” Ollilainen said.
She has published in and served on the editorial board of Gender and Society, a respected journal in sociology and women’s studies. Ollilainen was chair of the Committee on Teaching of the Pacific Sociological Association and chair of the Awards Committee of the Sociologists for Women in Society. She has held visiting appointments at universities in China and Finland and led a study abroad trip to Scandinavia.
At Weber State, Ollilainen took a leading role in crafting a parental-leave policy for faculty as well as serving on numerous university, college and departmental committees.