Dr. Sheldon received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Texas-Austin. She studies how we use language as an embodied, multimodal system, in which gesture and imagistic representations are synchronized with speech to co-express meaning. Her publications on gender and language have shown how American English-speaking preschoolers' conversations already reflect their gender enculturation. She has found gender and language differences in preschoolers' pretend play narratives, conflict talk, self-assertion in social play, food talk and discursive styles of social engagement. Her recent work on language and gender studies the face-to-face political discourse of powerful women leaders like Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as how the language of advertisements constructs gender. She has also published in the areas of child and adult first and second language acquisition.

She has consulted with the BBC for their series "Child of our Time"; this is described in the June 19, 2006 entry on the University's public engagement blog.