Since joining the Population Council in 1990, Barbara Mensch has conducted research in four areas: the quality of family planning services in developing countries and its effect on contraceptive use; the transition to adulthood in Africa, particularly the relationships between sexual initiation, sexually transmitted infections, early marriage, and education; the reliability of self-reports relating to sexual behavior in demographic surveys; and the behavior and characteristics of microbicide trial participants.
She is a co-author of The Uncharted Passage: Girls’ Adolescence in the Developing World, a publication that encouraged those engaged in developing adolescent programs and policies to collect more comprehensive data on the lives of young women, generating information that can improve their lives. She was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries, whose influential 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.
Before joining the Council, Mensch was an assistant professor of clinical public health at Columbia University, where she investigated adolescent pregnancy and drug use in the United States. Mensch chairs the Microbicide Trials Network’s behavioral research working group and is a member of the Network’s executive committee. She is a member of the editorial committee of the Council’s peer-reviewed journal, Studies in Family Planning. She also belongs to and is a past board member of the Population Association of America (PAA) and is a member of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP).
Mensch received a BA in history from Wellesley College, a BA and MA in social and political sciences from Cambridge University, and an MA and PhD in sociology and demography from Princeton University.