Stearns is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of California, Davis. Her research agenda is centered around understanding how social policies that provide paid leave and other family-friendly benefits affect men, women, and children. She is particularly interested in how these policies can be used to reduce gender and socioeconomic inequality in the workplace and at home. Her current research examines the effects of family-friendly policies on labor market choices, productivity, family structure, education, and health outcomes. Her work suggests that paid leave benefits can have large welfare-improving effects and may be a way to reduce socioeconomic disparities in health and labor market outcomes. It also highlights the fact that some policies that are aimed at promoting gender equality in the workplace can have negative consequences for women.