To learn more about how a degree in anthropology and sociology intersects with different careers, check out these professional profiles from anthropologists/sociologists in tech, advertising, government, and more!
Genevieve Bell is the director of user experience at Intel and an anthropologist. At Intel, Bell runs a team of 100 social scientists and designers who travel the world looking at the ways people interact with technology. Intel uses this information to develop technology that fits the needs of their customers. One example of this is a prototype Intel developed called “China Home Learning PC.” Her team found that parents in China were concerned that a computer would distract children from their school work. To combat this, Intel created a key parents could activate, controlling what their children can do on the computer while they are studying. Bell and her team have researched how people use technology in their kitchens, cars, living rooms, at sporting events and religious observances. Bell believes that “you have to understand people to build the next generation of technology.” Check out this article on Genevieve Bell if you are interested in learning more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/16/technology/intels-sharp-eyed-social-scientist.html?_r=0#
Here is a short video on the work she does https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baAT24aCwIs
Dan Russell is a search anthropologist for Google. As part of his job, Russell watches how users interact with Google’s search engine and determines how Google can make the search engine more user friendly based on his observations. While Google can see that people are turning away from certain aspects of their website using statistical data, it is employees like Russell who figure out why that is and how to fix it. While Russell began his career as a computer scientist he realized that powerful technology is useless if nobody knows how to use it. After creating what he felt like was a sophisticated tool that nobody used, he decided to focus his work on the science of user experience. He now works on a variety of projects that help him understand how and why users interact with Google’s products. To learn more about Dan Russell and his job as a search anthropologist check out this link: http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Meet-Google-s-search-anthropologist-3445088.php
Jen Cardew Kersey
After graduating from college, Jen Cardew Kersey began working as a research consultant. She began her career working with small boutiques but slowly made her way to working with a global advertising agency. She has now worked with Microsoft, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and many other companies. Kersey research helps business understand what their clientele are looking for, which helps businesses create products that fit the lives of their clients.
Robert Winthrop works for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management where he leads a team of social scientists that work to solve practical problems of land and resource management. Winthrop says his work is focused on “social impact assessment and dispute resolution where American Indian rights and values are affected by natural resource development.” He uses ethnography and other research methods to provide accounts of a situation (typically a resource conflict) and try to figure out how both sides can move forward although sometimes “across a cultural divide.” As of recently, Winthrop is “working on researching the social cost of carbon (for climate change), the costs and benefits of wildlife conservation, practical approaches for assessing the effects of proposed projects on ecosystem services, techniques for mapping social values, strategies for integrating environmental justice considerations in the agency’s decisions, and the design of a course on social impact analysis.”
Monica S. Hunter
Monica Hunter worked as an applied anthropologist as the “public seat” on the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. This board helped implement the Clean Water Act and the state Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act. In her position, she studied the social and cultural issues related to impacts of water quality regulation. By researching these impacts on water quality regulation she could could “inform the regulatory process through my knowledge and experience in working directly in coastal communities with organizations, groups and individual residents seeking to implement community goals for resource stability.”
Jenny Masur is an anthropologist who has worked for the National Park Service (NPS) for over two decades. Part of Masur’s job involves facilitating meetings and cooperation between many different groups, including archives, parks, NGOs, and grassroots organizations. She organizes training for both rangers and “cultural groups,” introducing them to one another and the NPS. Most of her job involves creating a space and facilitating conversations between different groups of people that are connected to national parks, allowing them to learn about and from one another.
Mark Edberg is a professor at George Washington University and is known for his work with UNICEF. He collaborated with UNICEF “to develop and implement a holistic, multi-domain, social well-being model as a basis for planning and monitoring progress, where social well-being is understood as a precursor to the rights and development goals UNICEF promotes and monitors.” His research and work with UNICEF helped develop the “Adolescent Well-Being Framework,” and the “Social Well-Being Framework.” These frameworks help UNICEF analyze the situation of women, children and youth in many Latin American-Caribbean regions. For more information on the work Edberg check out the following links: http://www.wapadc.org/2013PraxisAward
Other Career Paths for Anthropologists
“Working for the Federal Government: Anthropology Careers” by Shirley Fiske, p.110-115. http://www4.ncsu.edu/~nmhaenn/documents/WorkingfortheFederalGovtbyShirleyFiske.pdf
In this article, Shirley Fiske writes about the different positions anthropologists hold in the federal government, which is the second largest employer of anthropologists, after universities. Fiske explains the range of jobs anthropologists hold in the federal government, ranging from “work with consulting firms with contracts from the federal government, to employment in the foreign service, to archeologists in cultural resource management, and social science analysts in the legislative branches.”
U.S. Census Bureau: Anthropologists who work for the Census Bureau play a critical role in identifying and recommending solutions for the traditional “undercounts of non traditional households.” They have documented changes in the family structure of marginalized and under documented groups. Anthropologists who work in the census bureau “critique and improve its methods and approach to enumerating the national population and develop reliable methodologies for identifying marginalized and difficult to enumerate populations (homeless, mobile populations, etc).”
”The Bureau has used anthropological expertise to critique and improve its methods and approach to enumerating the national population, develop reliable methodologies for identifying marginalized and difficult-to-enumerate populations, including homeless, mobile populations (gypsies, migrant workers), urban American Indian households, and to recruit community knowledgeable people to help conduct the census.
The NPS (National Park Service): The NPS works with both cultural anthropologists and archeologists, they work to “ascertain local views and voices of traditionally associated people who have lived in, near, or used a park’s resources.” These anthropologists work to ensure that park management is responding “to the voices of traditionally associated peoples and that national parks interpret the cultural meanings of park resources in appropriate ways.”
The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention): “The historical base for anthropologists at the CDC has been in the Division of HIV/ AIDS Prevention, but anthropologists now work in prevention research and methods, tuberculosis, diabetes, immunization services, health communications, and environmental hazards divisions, among others.”
USAID (United States Agency for International Development): “Anthropologists tend to work in areas such as rural and agricultural development, as contract officers, in program evaluation, women’s initiatives, governance and democratization, and as mission directors in the foreign service.”