2019 Award Winners

Beth Hess Award Winner for 2019: Laura Jean Kerr

The Beth Hess Award was established in 2005 to support first generation college students who began their academic careers in a community college, have faced significant obstacles, are committed to teaching and mentoring other first-generation students, and exemplify Beth’s commitment to professional service and social justice work. Beth Hess was a President of SWS and one of our mentoring award winners; she also was the President of SSSP and Secretary Treasurer of ASA, and these other organizations join SWS in supporting the Beth Hess Scholar each year. Graduate students in sociology at the dissertation writing stage are invited to apply. In 2019, the subcommittee (Sarah Bruch, chair; Myra Marx Ferree, Mairead Eastin Moloney, Nancy Naples, and Denise Copelton) faced the challenge of selecting the winner who receives an $18,000 scholarship, certificates and transportation subsidies from SWS and SSSP, and free meeting registration that includes complimentary access to the organizations’ award receptions from SWS, SSSP, and ASA. When there is more than one exceptionally strong candidate, an Honorable Mention Awardee is also selected. The Honorable Mention Awardee also receives the free meeting registration from SWS, SSSP, and ASA and will be honored at the organizations’ award receptions.

This year’s Beth Hess Award winner is Laura Jean Kerr. Laura Jean began her academic journey at Meridian Community College in Meridian, Mississippi. Her decision to attend Meridian, and her experience there, drove home for Laura Jean the importance of community college as a source of opportunity in one of the most historically disadvantaged regions of the United States. “This educational experience,” as Laura Jean noted in her application, “had a profound effect on my life.” As a testament to this commitment, Laura Jean returned to Meridian after completing her undergraduate education (at the University of Southern Mississippi) to work as a career assessment coordinator, a position which immersed her in helping Meridian students and community residents navigate the local labor market in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Laura Jean’s decision to enter the Sociology graduate program at Mississippi State was a direct extension of this experience; a next step shaped by her determination to understand the personal and economic struggles of students at Meridian and—more importantly—to strive for solutions. Laura Jean is “committed to community college teaching and learning,” as her mentors underscore in their letter of support, “and to improving the experiences of community college students, particularly in Mississippi, a high persistent-poverty, low-resourced, state.”

Three elements of Laura Jean’s record illuminate her passion for educational equity and social justice. As a teacher, Laura Jean is deeply engaged in drawing meaningful connections between the academic study of social stratification and the real-world experiences and circumstances of her students. In the classroom, as her mentors note, “she seamlessly weaves all these elements into a concerted effort to address critical issues facing less-privileged students, and the role that higher education can play in redressing inequality.”

Laura Jean’s dissertation research tackles the problem of food insecurity among community college students in Mississippi. Through an innovative panel of surveys, she is working to measure the prevalence of food insecurity, examine its relationship to academic progress or attainment, and assess the potential and the limits of policy solutions. The promise of this work is highlighted by Laura Jean’s selection for the competitive Problem-Solving Sociology Dissertation Proposal Development Workshop at Northwestern University. And it has already yielded an impressive slate of publications—including “The Good Food Revolution: Building Community Resiliency in the Mississippi Delta,” Social Sciences: Community and Urban Sociology (2019) and “‘God Always Provides’: Challenges and Barriers in Food Assistance Delivery in Mississippi,” Community Development (2018).

Finally, Laura Jean’s research and teaching undergird her commitment to community engagement and public sociology. In this respect, she has been instrumental in building an academic community at Mississippi State through her activity—and leadership—in a wide range of local and national organizations. She has forged meaningful and reciprocal relationships with groups, such as the Mississippi Food Insecurity Project, ensuring that her work will not just document the challenges faced by her peers but will contribute in direct and meaningful ways to addressing those challenges.

Laura Jean’s work is—in the true spirit of Beth Hess—animated by a deep and abiding commitment to teaching, mentoring, and service in the interest of social justice. What is remarkable in this respect is not just that she started this journey at Meridian Community College, but that, in all the ways that matter, she never left it behind. We are delighted to honor her and her work with the 2019 Beth Hess Scholarship.

2019 Beth Hess Award Honorable Mention: Rashon Lane

The 2019 Honorable Mention goes to Rashon Lane. Rashon started her academic career at Contra Costa Community College in San Pablo, California, going on to complete a Bachelors of Arts at Tuskegee University and a Master of Arts in Applied Social Psychology at the Claremont Graduate School. She is currently a doctoral candidate in medical sociology at the University of California-San Francisco. Across these institutions and experiences, Rashon has dedicated herself “to ensuring that individuals like myself, a woman of color from a low-income community, have opportunities to excel in higher education.” Toward this end, she has a broad and impressive record of teaching and peer mentoring, including the establishment of an annual Young Professionals Conference.

Rashon’s extensive and varied research experience, ranging from work on food insecurity among women of color living with HIV/AIDS on San Francisco to health promotion in response to the 2015 Ebola outbreak in Serra Leone, is bound together by a commitment to social justice and to the application of social science methods to real-world challenges. With each new experience, Rashon has applied sociological methods and theories to public health practice and focused her interests on the social constructions of health, community trauma, and disease. Her dissertation research will take her back to Sierra Leone to conduct qualitative research on the social construction of survivorship and survivor health using the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak as a case study.

Rashon hopes to sustain these commitments to teaching and mentoring and applied research by returning to community college as a faculty member after earning her PhD.

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Congratulations to the 2019 SWS Feminist Mentoring Award Winners, Manisha Desai and Paula England!

The SWS Feminist Mentoring Award was established in 1990 to honor an SWS Member who is an outstanding feminist mentor. While the word “mentoring” is commonly used to describe a faculty-student relationship, this award has shown the breadth of ways that feminists do mentoring. In establishing the award, SWS recognized that feminist mentoring is an important and concrete way to encourage feminist scholarship.

This year’s Feminist Mentoring Award Subcommittee included Shelley Correll (Subcommittee Co-Chair), Patti Giuffre (Subcommittee Co-Chair), Laura E. Simon, and Courtney Caviness. The Subcommittee decided that both Manisha Desai and Paula England will be the SWS 2019 Feminist Mentoring Award Winners. Koyel Khan was the Central Nominator for Manisha Desai, and Krystale E. Littlejohn was the Central Nominator for Paula England.

Manisha Desai is the Head of Sociology and Professor of Sociology and Asian and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut. Her research and teaching interests include Gender and Globalization, Transnational Feminisms, Human Rights movements, and Contemporary Indian Society. She has just returned from eight months of ethnographic field work in India, funded by the American Institute of India Studies, studying the changing dynamics of four decades of feminist activism against gender based violence. Her most recent book was Subaltern Movements in India: The Gendered Geography of Struggles Against Neoliberal Development (Routledge 2016). She has served in many leadership positions in the profession, including President of SWS.

As a scholar activist, she has been involved in advocacy and activism around social and gender justice issues at the United Nations, as SWS’s Representative to its Economic and Social Council, at the World Social Forum, and US Social Forum, among other sites. She serves on the Expert Committee of Everywoman Everywhere, International Commission of Violence Against Women and Girls, that has recently launched a Global Treaty to End Violence Against Women and Girls.

Many of Manisha Desai’s mentees expressed how inspiring Manisha has been, and letters came from Shweta Majumdar Adur, Christobel Asiedu, Barret Katuna, Daniela Jauk, Takiyah D. Harper-Shipman, Cynthia Melendez Montoya, Alexander Holmgren, Caner Hazar, Chriss Sneed, and Ruth Marleen Hernández. Here are some examples that Koyel Khan collected of what Manisha’s mentees had to say:

Ruth Marleen Hernández comments, “With these experiences in mind, I vow to approach my work with the same dignity and awareness Dr. Desai demonstrates. As a WOC in academia, I know my successes are possible due to the extraordinary efforts of women before me, and for me, Dr. Desai is a reminder of these efforts.”

Daniela Jauk states,“I have found that kind of ‘lived solidarity’ in senior colleagues only on very rare occasions. Manisha has walked the walk, not only talked the talk, in feminist mentoring, and she profoundly inspires me to pay it forward in similar ways.”

In the words of Chriss Sneed, “Often, her mentorship reaches beyond office hours and yet, Dr. Desai graciously makes room for more inquisitive minds. This is evident in the fact that almost all graduate students in our department frequently admit that they have visited her office and received words of wisdom and guidance, even though they aren’t her ‘official’ advisees. I can only hope that I will be able to provide one fourth of the passionate mentorship that Dr. Desai offers her students.”

Paula England is the Silver Professor of Sociology at New York University. She is the author of two books, Households, Employment, and Gender and Comparable Worth, and over 100 articles. For decades, her research focused on occupational sex segregation, the sex gap in pay, and the effects of motherhood on women’s pay. Recently, she has turned to research on contraception, nonmarital births, and sexualities. She is the winner of the American Sociological Association’s 1999 Jessie Bernard award for career contributions to scholarship on gender, the 2010 Distinguished Career award from the Family Section of ASA, and the Population Association of America’s Harriet B. Presser Award for research on gender and demography. In 2015, she was President of the American Sociological Association. In 2018, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Here are some highlights from Paula England’s nomination material that Krystale E. Littlejohn collected from Michelle Budig, Christine Williams, Jessie Ford, Eman Abdelhadi, along with additional letters from Jonathan Bearak, Mónica L. Caudillo, Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer, Elizabeth McClintock, Emma Mishel, Joanna Reed, Shelly Ronen, and Liana Sayer:

Mónica L. Caudillo shared: “During my time as a graduate student, Paula always made me feel that I had “what it takes” to be a successful scholar. Her emotional support and patience were fundamental to help me get through the hardest months in the doctoral program, during which I sometimes doubted my own vocation and qualifications. She always knew how to listen to my concerns and offered wise and insightful advice, while at the same time making me feel that I had agency to shape my career and professional opportunities in any way I decided.”

Krystale E. Littlejohn shares a comment from one of Paula England’s mentee’s which demonstrates how having Paula in your corner literally results in lifelong support. She said, “Paula had an enormous impact on my career. She has been my stalwart supporter since I met her in 1986, my first year as an assistant professor.” Indeed, she says, “From our first meeting, I knew I had an ally and an advocate as well as an interlocutor. She invited me to write a chapter in a book, join the editorial board of the ASR, and participate in seminars and panels she organized. Pretty much any time something good happened early in my career, Paula was somehow involved. It was like having a guardian angel looking over me. She is the model of a feminist mentor, one I have tried to copy and pass forward to the young feminist scholars I meet. I can think of no one who is more deserving of this award.”

Elizabeth McClintock wrote, “Another of Paula’s ex-students and I often invoke Paula’s wisdom even in her absence, conjuring up her calm pragmatism and incremental, logical approach to problem solving through our shared expression, ‘What would Paula do?’ This thought experiment usually helps us resolve our dilemma—by asking how Paula would tackle a given challenge, we are better able to think through the situation ourselves.”

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Angela J. Hattery is the 2019 SWS Distinguished Feminist Lecturer

The 2019 SWS Distinguished Feminist Lecturer Award Winner is Angela J. Hattery. Thank you to the SWS Distinguished Feminist Lecturer Subcommittee, comprised of Laura Logan (Chair), Kimberly Kelly, and Jamie O’Quinn. Angela J. Hattery is Professor and Director of the Women & Gender Studies Program at George Mason University. She earned her B.A. in sociology and anthropology from Carleton College and her M.S. and PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her teaching and research focuses on all forms of inequality, including racism, classism, and sexism. She is the author of 11 books, including her most recent book, Gender, Power and Violence: Responding to Intimate Partner Violence in Society Today (2019) which followed on the heels of Policing Black Bodies: How Black Lives are Surveilled and How to Work for Change (2018) as well as dozens of book chapters and peer reviewed articles. She has written several books on the impact of social inequality on Black families and she has been researching and teaching about violence against women for more than 20 years. She has numerous articles on sexual abuse and domestic violence as well as three books on these topics: The Social Dynamics of Family Violence, which was published in a second edition in 2016 and Intimate Partner Violence, published in 2008. She is regularly asked to comment on stories about violence against women for the Washington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, and other outlets. She serves as a consultant to agencies that seek to combat violence against women and regularly appears as an expert on these issues with major US TV and radio news media. From 2014-2019, she served on SWS Council, first as Secretary and then as Treasurer. She teaches classes on feminist research methods, social stratification, African American families, and family violence.

Heather Laube, Krista Brumley, and Shannon Davis worked on a nomination letter for Hattery. They highlight that Hattery’s scholarship is feminist and intersectional and focuses on identifying, analyzing, and then changing the ways that structural inequalities impact individuals in their daily lives and society as a whole. Dr. Hattery approaches all of her work with a feminist lens and employs a critical feminist perspective, which leads her to ask particular kinds of questions, provide revealing analyses, and offer practical suggestions for social change. Others who contributed to Angela Hattery’s nomination include Adia Harvey Wingfield, Deborah J. Cohan, and Emily W. Kane.

SWS Past President Adia Harvey Wingfield acknowledges Hattery’s capability of presenting important ideas and the sociological insights behind them to lay audiences in clear and jargon-free language. Wingfield also notes that Hattery is an effective public speaker and has that rare skill of holding the audience’s attention while keeping them engaged and focused.
Deborah J. Cohan shares how she remains in awe of all that Hattery balances with such grace and dignity: “She is a superior and articulate communicator: interesting, tactful, facilitative, and creative. Conversations with her are always insightful, evocative, funny, and lively, and I know I am not alone in coming away from my time with her more energized and interested in unpacking and exploring in greater depth whatever we were discussing—a research idea, a teaching strategy, a political or social issue, a personal dilemma, etc.”

Emily W. Kane attests that since Hattery’s earliest days as a graduate student in sociology, she has been deeply committed to feminist scholarship and action that have public impact, to feminist teaching that nurtures and mentors students from all backgrounds and experiences, and to program development that supports social change within the academy and far beyond.
As part of the recognition, Hattery will develop a lecture that she will deliver in two venues: 1) at the 2021 Winter Meeting in Jacksonville, Florida and 2) on one selected college or university during the 2020-2021 academic year. Her lecture or a paper based on it will be published in Gender & Society.

The SWS Distinguished Lectureship was founded in 1985 as a way of recognizing members whose scholarship employs a feminist perspective and making this feminist scholar available to campuses that are isolated, rural, located away from major metropolitan areas, bereft of the resources needed to invite guest speakers, and/or characterized by hostility to feminist scholarship. A key goal of the program is to provide a feminist voice on campuses where such a perspective is unusual and/or unwelcome. Please note that the Lectureship originally carried the name of Cheryl Allyn Miller, but now there is a separate Cheryl Allyn Miller Award.

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Jane E. McArthur wins the 2019 Barbara Rosenblum Cancer Dissertation Scholarship

Sociologists for Women in Society is proud to announce the recipient of the 2019 Barbara Rosenblum Cancer Dissertation Scholarship, Jane E. McArthur. Special thanks go to the 2019 Barbara Rosenblum Cancer Dissertation Scholarship Subcommittee: Ana-Porroche-Escudero (Chair), Melissa Day, Susan Ferguson, and Nona Gronert. This scholarship was established with a bequest from Dr. Barbara Rosenblum, an active and longstanding SWS member, who died February 14, 1988 after a long battle with breast cancer. Colleagues, friends, and family made contributions to the fund in Barbara’s memory, and fundraising efforts continue to ensure that a $2500 scholarship can be offered every year. The purpose of the scholarship is to encourage doctoral research in sociology, anthropology, psychology and related fields on women’s experience of breast cancer and other reproductive cancers and the prevention of these cancers. Another goal of the scholarship is to encourage scholars to make this type of research accessible to the public through speaking and publishing for lay audiences.

Jane E. McArthur, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellow in Sociology/Social Justice at the University of Windsor, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, combines her educational background in communications with her twenty-five years of working on issues of environmental and occupational health through community based research, education and advocacy. With past experience in Research Coordination and Assistance on projects including the “Risk Exploration Project,” “Living and Working in Essex and Kent Counties,” and “Lifetime Histories Breast Cancer Research Study,” McArthur’s work is rooted in community based health investigations with a view to prevention. Though her work for improved well-being and justice has often had breast cancer as a focus, she also works through broader issues of health and well-being as they intersect with gender, race, class and inequalities in power, all with a view to empowerment and social change from the grassroots up through various levels of governance. With a recognition of the importance of the role of the media in contributing to the construction of realities in contemporary society, investigating the production of discourses is a pivotal aspect of McArthur’s ongoing work in community environmental health perspectives.

McArthur’s dissertation research examines how women who work in an environment with an identified risk of breast cancer construct understandings and narratives of their risks and how women perceive and exercise agency in the acceptance, avoidance or negotiation of those risks. McArthur expects to graduate with her Ph.D. in 2019. She has received multiple awards and scholarships for her research, including Social Sciences Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Top 25 Storyteller, is an Informed Opinions Expert, an Affiliated Researcher with Health Research Centre for Violence Against Women (HRCVAW), a Member of the Windsor Cancer Research Group (WCRG), and is a champion for getting issues from the margins into the mainstream.

The central question of McArthur’s research is: How do women who work (or have worked) in an environment identified as posing an increased risk of breast cancer construct narratives and understandings of their breast cancer risks? and secondarily: How do they place environment in their narratives? And finally: How do these women perceive and exercise agency in the context of those risks? The significance of this research will be in its contribution to knowledge around women’s understandings of breast cancer, and also in how women are able to assess risks for breast cancer in their own and others’ lives and make corresponding decisions about mitigating those risks.

McArthur is personally motivated to conduct this research given her prior experience in the area of occupational and environmental health research and advocacy and, in particular, in studies of women and breast cancer in conjunction with advocacy around research findings as related to these issues. She envisions this effort of obtaining evidence-based understandings of women’s perspective on risks for breast cancer, and particularly whether and how they incorporate environmental risks in their narratives, as a continuation of the work she has been involved in for many years towards influencing prevention policy and regulatory revisions. McArthur sees the proposed research as an opportunity to provide insights and evidence of a particular ontological status that can contribute in new ways to the broader issue of environmental breast cancer in the context of improvements for women’s public health.

McArthur created a video on her research with women workers at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, ON, Canada, and their stories of environmental breast cancer risks. This video has been chosen as a Top 25 in the national Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Storytellers competition. Click here to view the video. Click here to read the article from SSHRC about the Storytellers challenge.

If you are interested in making a gift to support the Barbara Rosenblum Cancer Dissertation Scholarship, please contact Barret Katuna, Executive Officer, at swseo.barretkatuna@outlook.com.

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Winner and Two Honorable Mentions for Cheryl Allyn Miller Award

The 2019 Cheryl Allyn Miller Award Winner is April Hovav. The two honorable mentions are Ethel Mickey and Maria Cecilia Hwang.

April Hovav recently graduated with a PhD in Sociology and Gender Studies from the University of Southern California. Her dissertation, “The Global Market for Wombs: A Study of the Transnational Surrogacy Industry in Mexico,” examines the relationship between developments in medical technologies and the emergence of new global markets through which women’s bodies are leveraged as a potential source of capital. She is the recipient of the Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, and the American Council of Learned Societies/ Mellon Foundation Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

Hovav’s article, “Producing Moral Palatability in the Mexico Surrogacy Industry,” was published in Gender & Society in 2019. The article draws on multi-sited ethnographic research and interviews with over 100 actors to analyze the way tensions between altruism and profit are managed in the Mexican surrogacy industry. She finds that actors in the Mexican surrogacy industry draw boundaries between altruism and commercialism in ways that both reflect and reinforce power asymmetries based in gender, race, class, and nationality between surrogates and intended parents. Furthermore, she argues, surrogacy agencies draw on notions of maternal altruism to facilitate the surrogacy market in two key ways: by rendering it morally palatable to consumers, and in disciplining surrogates to create a docile and compliant labor force.

Ethel L. Mickey, one of the honorable mentions, received her PhD in Sociology from Northeastern University in August 2018, with a Graduate Certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is currently a Visiting Lecturer of Sociology at Wellesley College as well as a Virtual Visiting Scholar for the Association of Women in Science, funded through the National Science Foundation. Her research and teaching interests include gender, work, and organizations and social networks with a focus on high-tech and STEM settings in the United States. Her ongoing research projects focus on understanding the persistence of intersectional inequalities in today’s knowledge-based economy despite widespread rejections of discrimination in these industries. Through a qualitative organizational case study of a high-tech firm, including interviews with tech workers and workplace observations, she examines the relational mechanisms undergirding gender, race, and class dynamics in the technology sector. Her research seeks to amplify women’s voices to shift the discussion of inequality in high-tech away from “fixing” women and toward an analysis of the networks of exclusion endemic to the technology industry.

In her forthcoming (August 2019) article with Gender & Society, titled, “When Gendered Logics Collide: Going Public and Restructuring in a High-Tech Organization,” Mickey analyzes the gendered implications of a high-tech startup restructuring and going public. She finds that the flexible organization becomes bureaucratic, creating conflicting organizational logics that place women at a structural disadvantage and limit their ability to meet ideal worker expectations. The firm’s gendered hierarchy, division of labor, and culture centered on a hybrid geek-athlete masculinity together serve to constrain women’s relationships with influential organizational actors.

Maria Cecilia Hwang, one of the honorable mentions, earned a PhD in American Studies from Brown University and is currently a Henry Luce Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Southeast Asian Studies at Rice University. She will begin her appointment as an Assistant Professor at McGill University’s Department of East Asian Studies and the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies in Fall 2019. Hwang’s research interests center on gender and sexuality, international migration, labor, and globalization. Her current book project, Shadow Migration and Gendered Illegality: The Temporary Labor Migration of Filipina Sex Workers in Asia, examines how the forces of economic globalization and state migration regimes impact the lived experiences of sex workers from the Philippines who circulate across global cities in Asia. Her work has been published in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, International Migration Review, and International Labor and Working-Class History.

Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS) established The Cheryl Allyn Miller Award for graduate students and recent PhDs working in the area of women and paid work: employment and self-employment, informal market work, illegal work. The award was originally founded by a bequest from the family of the late Cheryl Allyn Miller, a sociologist and feminist who studied women and paid work.

Special thanks to the Cheryl Allyn Miller Award Subcommittee Members: Tre Wentling (Chair), Kumiko Nemoto, and Mary Virnoche.

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Congratulations to the 2019 Esther Ngan-ling Chow and Mareyjoyce Green Dissertation Scholarship Award Winner: Chriss Sneed!

Chriss Sneed is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of Connecticut. In the dissertation tentatively named “Queer Passages and the Assemblages of Blackness,” Chriss examines how Black identity is constructed, negotiated, and utilized by Black/Afro-descendant activists in the United States and Brazil. This multi-site, qualitative research focuses on activists who are also gender and sexual minorities – those identifying as women or LGBTQ – involved in transnational racial justice organizing across the Western Hemisphere and the two aforementioned nations specifically. Because of the funds available to Chriss via the 2019 Esther Ngan-ling Chow and Mareyjoyce Green Dissertation Scholarship, Chriss will do full time research and writing in the United States this upcoming academic year. The 2019 Esther Ngan-ling Chow and Mareyjoyce Green Dissertation Scholarship will financially enable Chriss to focus their full attention on writing and defending their dissertation.

Chriss spent the 2018-2019 academic year working on their dissertation and other manuscripts-in-progress as a Research Associate in Residence at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center located in South Hadley, MA. During the Spring 2019 semester, Chriss also worked at Wesleyan University as Visiting Instructor of African American Studies. In the past, Chriss served as Student Representative of Sociologists for Women in Society, Visiting Scholar & Adjunct at St. John’s University, and as an intern for the Trans Justice Funding Project. Outside of these activities, Chriss is the founder and co-organizer of the interdisciplinary conference “Borderlands: A Critical Graduate Symposium,” held each year at the University of Connecticut.

Chriss’ research, teaching, and service are intimately tied to the theorization and praxis of identity, self-making, and social justice. Some of their recent publications include “Everyday Conversations with Dr. Rod Bush: The Radical Potentials of Mentorship, Intimacy, and Practice” and “Ga(y)tekeeping Identity, Citizenship, & Claims to Justice” in the edited volumes Rod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and Justice(Okcir Press) and Queer Activism After Marriage Equality: The After Marriage Series – Volume 2 (Routledge), respectively, as well as another piece co-authored with David Embrick, “Sociology as a Discipline and an Obligation” (Contexts). Two forthcoming works – a co-authored piece on Black activist-research in the Americas and “Apocalypse, Afro-Futures, & Theories of ‘the Living’ Beyond Human Rights: Octavia E. Butler’s Parable Series” – are slated to be published later this year.

Special thanks to the Co-Chairs of the Sister to Sister Committee: Andrea (Drea) S. Boyles and Sasha R. Drummond-Lewis and the Esther Ngan-ling Chow and Mareyjoyce Green Dissertation Scholarship Award Subcommittee Members: Adelle Monteblanco and Anjana Narayan.

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The 2019 Natalie Allon Research Award Winners are Shantel Gabrieal Buggs and Apryl A. Williams.

The purpose of the Natalie Allon Research grant is to, broadly, advance our sociological understanding and redress of employment discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity, sexual identity, or sexual orientation. The Allon Fund has three funding priorities

  • Legal fees for SWS Members who are protecting their rights by fighting discrimination cases that are based on sex, gender, gender identity, sexual identity, or sexual orientation.
  • Legal fees to fight cases of institutional discrimination that disproportionately affects women such as threats to tenure, or the exploitation of adjunct instructors.
  • Support for research on institutional gender-based discrimination (e.g., discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity, sexual identity, or sexual orientation). The research grant will support a range of research, from applied to academic, on issues related to gender, its numerous intersections, and discrimination.

Shantel Gabrieal Buggs (PhD, University of Texas at Austin) is an assistant professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Florida State University. Her research interests center on how race and ethnicity, gender, and sexuality shape the ways that people build and negotiate family, and pursue and maintain romantic intimate relationships (particularly interracial relationships). She has published on these topics in journals such as Identities, Journal of Marriage and Family, and Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, and her research has appeared in popular outlets like Bitch Magazine and The Stoop podcast. Through her research, she illustrates how interpersonal relationships structure and reify identities and social inequalities. She also writes about the representation of race, gender, and sexuality in popular culture and how social media platforms are utilized to build intimate relationships and to create community.

Apryl A. Williams received her PhD in Sociology from Texas A&M University in 2017 with a designated focus in race, media, and culture. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor at Susquehanna University and a Research Associate at the Center on Conflict and Development. Her research follows two broad streams of inquiry: cultural studies of race, gender, and community in digital spaces and mobile phone and digital technology use in developing countries. Williams’ work can be found in several peer reviewed outlets including Social Sciences, the International Journal of Communication, and Information, Communication & Society. She also serves as Series Associate Editor of Emerald Studies in Media and Communications where she has edited several volumes on digital inequality, global media flows, and new media cultures. Williams other academic interests include social theory, postmodernism, technology, and embodiment.

The working title for their project is Navigating the Outsider-Within: Women and Femmes of Color and Microaggressions on the Academic Job Market.

In their award application, Buggs and William acknowledges that although many colleges and universities have instituted trainings and an assortment of practices to reduce bias in hiring, microaggressions and other forms of discrimination continue to occur at virtually every level in which marginalized scholars participate in academe. Their study aims to assess how cis and trans women of color and non-binary femmes of color navigate the academic job market, with particular emphasis on the combined roles of race, gender, and embodiment, the quantity and quality of discrimination experienced, strategies and techniques to handle these obstacles, and mechanisms of support and knowledge-sharing about how to best succeed amidst (or anticipate) discrimination within academic spaces.

Their assessment of the job market includes activities/experiences in preparation for the market, experiences while on the job market (applications, interviews, campus visits, advising, etc.), and the resulting decisions once the job market completed (handling job offers, various aspects of the transition). Their project aims to discover the ways in which women of color and femmes of color may have additional barriers that may inhibit their success on the academic job market. In addition to this survey, the primary investigators would like to conduct targeted interviews to further flesh out themes that arise from the survey data.

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Congratulations to the SWS 2019 Feminist Activism Award Winner: Amy Blackstone

The SWS Feminist Activism Award, established in 1995, is presented annually to an SWS member who has notably and consistently used sociology to improve conditions for women in society. The award honors outstanding feminist advocacy efforts that embody the goal of service to women and that have identifiably improved women’s lives. This year’s Feminist Activism Award Subcommittee included Victoria Reyes (Subcommittee Chair), LaToya Council, Mindy Fried, and Emmanuel David. The Subcommittee decided that Amy Blackstone will be the SWS 2019 Feminist Activism Award Winner. As part of this award, Amy will deliver her Feminist Activism Talk at the SWS Summer Meeting in 2020 to take place in San Francisco, California and will participate in a campus visit during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Amy Blackstone is a professor in Sociology and the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine, where she studies childlessness and the childfree choice, workplace harassment, and civic engagement. She is the author of Childfree by Choice: The Movement Redefining Family and Creating a New Age of Independence (Dutton, 2019). Professor Blackstone’s research has been featured
by various media outlets including the Katie show, public radio, New York Times,Washington Post, BuzzFeed, USA Today, and Huffington Post. Her work has been published in journals such as Gender & Society,American Sociological Review, Law & Society Review, Sociology Compass, and others.

Heather McLaughlin, the central nominator of Amy Blackstone, shared the following:

“Beyond her scholarship and public sociology, Amy makes a difference in the lives of women in other ways: as a mentor, teacher, administrator, and community member. I first met Amy in 2004 when she was an Assistant Professor and I was an undergraduate student at the University of Maine. I would soon learn that Amy is a brilliant sociologist and a powerful activist, but she was important to me even before I knew these things about her. She was warm, kind, enthusiastic, and patient—qualities that allowed me to open up about my concerns and struggles as a first-generation college student. Amy was incredibly generous with her time and invested in me in a way that no other professor had. She was (and continues to be) there to listen, to brainstorm, and to offer expertise. Simply put, Amy’s mentorship has made me a better teacher, researcher, feminist, and human. Amy instilled a passion for social science research and activism, but her mentorship also gave me the confidence to believe in myself and pursue a career in academia.”

Of Amy’s commitment to gender equality and work toward that end, collaborator and current director of the Rising Tide Center Susan Gardner shared: Dr. Blackstone’s scholarship reflects her values as an academic citizen, colleague, and collaborator. She is devoted to creating change through the work she does and inspires excellence among all with whom she works. As a long-term collaborator of Dr. Blackstone’s, I have found her ability to work across disciplinary boundaries and navigate differences in disciplinary methodologies to be another one of her scholarly gifts. Most important, Dr. Blackstone uses the work she creates in the larger public sphere to foment change and make a difference. To me, this is the pinnacle of academic excellence.

Of Amy’s commitment to feminist social change in her community, Mabel Wadsworth Center Director Andrea Irwin said: Amy Blackstone has been an exemplary supporter, friend, and champion of the Center, lending her valuable expertise, energy, time and connections to ensure our success in meeting our mission. Independent abortion providers like Mabel Wadsworth Center depend on the support of volunteers and community members to keep our doors open. While non-profit fund and resource development can be intimidating for many, Amy enthusiastically welcomed the challenge, eagerly accompanying staff on key donor meetings. Amy has leveraged her local reputation and profile to bring awareness to the Center and invite others to learn more about our work by speaking publicly about the Center or co-hosting events. Most important, while her role at the University and national reputation as a feminist thought leader grows, she continues to hold space for community organizations like ours that are on the ground working to improve the lives of women and girls. Amy’s dedication to feminist social change shines through in everything she does and we are so grateful for her continued support.

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SWS is pleased to announce the American Sociological Association’s 2 SWS-Designated Minority Fellows!
Yvonne P. Sherwood and Chaniqua Simpson

Yvonne P. Sherwood (Sociologists for Women in Society MFP #1)
Undergraduate Institution: Eastern Washington University
Graduate Institution: University of California-Santa Cruz

Yvonne P. Sherwood is from Spokane and Coeur d’ Alene, born and raised within the Yakama Nation Reservation. A PhD candidate at the University of California-Santa Cruz, she studies the intersections of settler colonialism, anti-blackness, and heteropatriarchy in and across law and education; and, in organizing and activist spaces, actively engages across these entanglements. Her dissertation, “Water is Sacred! Women are Sacred!” Indigenous Womxn’s Embodied Knowledges Across the Fourth World” challenges the cooptation of Indigenous Knowledge by the state and resituates it as an anticolonial project by exploring the ways Indigenous peoples, especially Indigenous womxn activists, continue to fight for sovereignty and community well-being across the Fourth World. Drawing from participatory ethnography and in-depth interviews, Sherwood’s dissertation develops sociological theories of settler colonialism, critical race, and gender. A community college graduate, she received her master’s degree in sociology from University of California-Santa Cruz and her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Eastern Washington University in sociology and women’s and gender studies with minors in American Indian studies and Chicanx studies. Between work and research, she volunteers as a UCSC MINT mentor and a leading organizer within parentsforqualitycare.org. She has published in Open Rivers Journal, Fourth World Journal, American Indian Culture and Research, and co-authored an article on nuclear colonialism in Intercontinental Cry. A past recipient of the University of California-Santa Cruz’s Dean’s Diversity Fellowship and President’s Dissertation Year Fellowship, she is honored to be among the other MFPs.

Chaniqua Simpson (Sociologists for Women in Society MFP #2)
Undergraduate Institution: Fayetteville State University
Graduate Institution: North Carolina State University

Chaniqua Simpson (she/her) is a first-generation college student, Black queer feminist writer, caregiver, and organizer. Born and raised in Brooklyn and then rural North Carolina, Chaniqua likes to call herself a “Sortherner” because most of these geographic locations shaped her work personal life and her work as a sociologist. She received a BA in sociology with a certificate in professional writing from Fayetteville State University, where she was a McNair Scholar and participated in the Summer Research Opportunities Program. She is currently a PhD candidate at North Carolina State University. Her interests include race, class and gender, Black resistance, critical theory, social control, sexual politics, community-engaged research, and food and environmental justice. Her dissertation focuses on Black resistance movements and how Black organizers make sense of their work within the historical and contemporary cultural and political contexts. Specifically, it draws attention to systems of power stemming from class, gender, and sexuality, and how they shape the lives, experiences, and organizing work of young Black activists. Chaniqua does engaged scholarship as a part of her commitment to Black, LGBTQ, and other minoritized people. She is a member of the first Movement for Black Lives Electoral Justice League Fellowship, where she worked with organizers to help build coalitions and support to push for affordable housing in Raleigh. She also works at the Women’s Center at NC State, where she works to bridge sociology into campus community programming, specifically around race, gender, and equity. She facilitates interactive trainings, workshops, and talks around race, racism, sexuality, and social justice. Her work can be found in the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice and in Amplified Voices, Intersecting Identities: First-Generation PhDs Navigating Institutional Power (forthcoming). In addition, Chaniqua provides care for her aging mother. She also uses her spare time to tell bad jokes, binge-watch television, walk her dog, and care for her plants.