Beatriz Padilla was born in Mendoza, Argentina. She gained a degree in Public Administration and Political Sciences (Licenciatura, 1990) at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Argentina. Her continued graduate studies in the United States, where she received a Master in Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs of the University of Texas at Austin (1995), a Master (1998) and Ph.D. (2001) in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a concentration in Women and Gender in Global Perspectives. Her main areas of expertise include migration, gender, diversity, sociology and public policies. She has developed research in the United States, Latin America and Europe. Her research experience and fieldwork includes Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, the United States and Portugal. She is a native Spanish speaker, and fluent in English and Portuguese.
Currently, she is a Principal Researcher at the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL), Centre for Research & Studies in Sociology (CIES-IUL).
She also holds a Heath Professorship at Grinnell College (Spring 2018).