Jayanti Owens joined the faculty at Brown University in 2015 as an assistant professor of sociology and international and public affairs and as an affiliate of the Population Studies and Training Center. In 2016 she was named the Mary Tefft and John Hazen White, Sr. Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs and Sociology. Broadly, her research focuses on social disparities in children's behavioral problems and their consequences for educational inequality. Her current research addresses three puzzles: The higher school suspension and expulsion rates of Black and Latinx compared to White students in spite of exhibiting similar behavioral problems, the unintended consequences of diagnosing certain groups of children with an ADHD diagnosis for their later socioemotional wellbeing and academic achievement, and; the uneven educational and career penalties associated with males' and females' behavior problems.
In one project, Owens combines an original video experiment with linked administrative school records and longitudinal survey data analysis to examine the causes of racial disparities in school suspension and expulsion in the United States.
In another project, Owens investigates social and medical explanations for the rise in diagnosed prevalence of behavioral disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among youth in the United States. She also uses a counterfactual framework to examine cohort, racial/ethnic, and gender differences in the effects of ADHD diagnosis and treatment on later well-being and educational and labor market outcomes.
Owens' work has appeared in journals such as Social Forces, Sociology of Education, Social Science Research, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and Sociology of Religion.
Owens received a joint Ph.D. in sociology and demography from Princeton University (2013) and was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2013-2015).