Daphne Penn, PhD.

Daphne Penn

Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow; Department of Sociology and Population Studies Center

Daphne Penn is a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology and Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. As a sociologist of education, her work is driven by the belief that, to understand and address the root causes of educational inequality, we must examine schools as a microcosm of society. Her research is generally concerned with how politics, prejudice, and population change shape the American public education system, as well as the schooling experiences of children and adolescents. Along those lines, her solo-authored book project, The American Dream Deferred, explores how the new demography of the American South has shaped education policy and the politics of racial and ethnic stratification in schools. Specifically, the project examines how the educational response to the growing population of unaccompanied minors in the U.S. South is shaped by the legacy of racialized educational inequality in the region. 

Daphne’s scholarly work has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Center for American Political Studies, and the Immigration Initiative at Harvard. She has published research in Sociology of Education, Sociological Studies of Children & Youth, and AERA Open. Additionally, her co-edited volume—which explores the potential of contemporary public policy for racial equity—is currently under contract with Lexington Books, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield. 

In addition to her scholarly pursuits, Daphne's mission is to democratize knowledge and use research to improve the lives of those most impacted by structural inequality. To that end, Daphne is the founder of The Ebony Tower, an online community created to help academics of color thrive in the ivory tower. She is also the co-host of the BhD Podcast—a platform dedicated to bridging the gap between academics and the communities they research.


Ph.D., Education (Culture, Institutions, and Society), Harvard University, 2020
Ed.M., Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2017
M.S., Sociology, Purdue University, 2013
B.S., Human and Organizational Development, Vanderbilt University, 2008

Research Interests

sociology of education; race, ethnicity, and immigration; racism and intergroup relations; stratification; demographic change; cultural processes 

Selected Publications

Penn, Daphne M. 2021. “Beyond Receptivity: Exploring the Role of Identity in Educators’ Orientation Toward Newcomers in a New Immigrant Destination.” AERA Open. https://doi.org/10.1177/23328584211025529

Hibel, Jacob and Daphne M. Penn. 2020. “Bad Apples or Bad Orchards? An Organizational Analysis of Educator Cheating on Standardized Accountability Tests.” Sociology of Education. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038040720927234 

Hibel, Jacob, Daphne M. Penn, and R.C. Morris. 2016. “Ethnoracial Concordance in the Association between Academic Self-Efficacy and Achievement during Elementary and Middle School.” Sociological Studies of Children & Youth 20:31-63.

CV (file)