Petersen does research in the areas of social inequality and quantitative methods. He has investigated the role of employer discrimination in creating inequality in wages, hiring, and promotions between men and women, as well as the role of family adaptations in this. He draws on large-scale quantitative data from the U.S. and Scandinavia, including quantitative data on large firms.
Petersen received a PhD in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin (1987). Before coming to Berkeley in 1988 he taught in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University (1985-1988) and after coming here spent two years teaching in the Department of Sociology at the University of Oslo (1992-93, 1996-97).
Comparative gender inequality in the workplace