Since joining the Population Council, Barbara Mensch’s research has concentrated on five areas: 1) the transition to adulthood, particularly the relationships between sexual initiation, early marriage and childbearing, and education; 2) the quality of schooling experiences for adolescents and its effect on educational attainment and reproductive behavior; 3) the reliability of self-reports relating to sexual behavior in demographic surveys; 4) the quality of family planning services in developing countries and its effect on contraceptive use; and 5) HIV prevention focusing on behavioral issues arising in microbicide trials. She was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries, whose report, Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in the Developing World, provided a theoretical framework for thinking about adolescence in an era of globalization. She is one of the principal investigators of GirlsRead! Zambia, an RCT investigating whether e-readers integrated into girls’ groups can improve literacy and increase school progression.
Before joining the Council, Mensch was an assistant professor of clinical public health at Columbia University. She received an MA in social and political sciences from Cambridge University, and an MA and PhD in sociology and demography from Princeton University and was a post-doc at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.