Photo of Brittany Pearl Battle
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 Karine Lepillez (Subcommittee Chair), Amy Blackstone, LaToya Council, Ophra Leyser-Whalen, and Cierra Sorin. The Subcommittee selected Brittany Pearl Battle as the SWS 2021 Feminist Activism Award Winner.
Brittany Pearl Battle is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department at Wake Forest University and a passionate scholar-activist. Her research interests include social and family policy, courts, social justice, carceral logics, and culture and cognition. She teaches courses on social justice in the social sciences, criminology, and courts & criminal procedure, and is currently designing a course on abolition and reimagining justice. Brittany’s scholarship has been funded by the Ford Foundation, American Sociological Association, and Sociologists for Women in Society, and she recently won the American Society of Criminology’s Division on Critical Criminology and Social Justice Praxis Award.
She is currently working on a book manuscript (under contract with NYU Press), “They’re Stealing My Opportunity to Be a Father:” The Child Support System and State Intervention in the Family, which examines the experiences of parents involved in the child support system using courtroom observations and interviews. The project illuminates the ways that the child support system functions as a neoliberal construct at the intersection of the welfare and criminal justice systems. Brittany is currently collaborating on a research project examining evictions in North Carolina, in a partnership with a local grassroots organization focused on housing justice. She is also working on an interview project with activists examining the pathways to abolition. Her activism as a founding member of Triad Abolition Project in North Carolina included organizing a 49-day occupation during the summer of 2020 to demand policy changes in response to the murder of John Neville in the local jail. The organization also hosts direct protest actions, civic engagement actions, and community political education sessions.
Brittany is also a founding Board of Directors member of the Ocean City Juneteenth Organization, which honors Black elders and ancestors in her hometown, and began a donation drive to the local Coalition Against Rape and Abuse in the name of a Black woman community member murdered in an act of domestic violence. She has been recognized with a New Jersey Legislature Senate and General Assembly Citation for her work with the Ocean City Juneteenth Organization, as well as the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Award from the City of Ocean City, New Jersey. Brittany regularly appears in local news media and engages in public scholarship on podcasts and community panels, and through her blog on her experiences as a Black woman on the tenure track.
Her work stands out for its timeliness, intensity, and the clear results and impact they have had in a short time on the lives of colleagues, students, and members of her community. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Brittany founded the Triad Abolition Project, mobilizing the organization for Occupy Winston Salem. Brittany worked with other organizers to put forth a set of demands to local government; they held educational events, community dinners, vigils, marches, and other actions that resulted in policy change at the county level. The county committed to notifying the public when an inmate dies in police custody and banned the use of “hogtie” restraints, among other changes. Brittany’s activism is also visible in her mentoring, particularly of first-generation, Black, and POC students. Noting her dedication and intersectional feminist work on issues of racial justice in her community and the demonstration of her exceptional commitment to intersectional feminist activism within her community, SWS is awarding Brittany Pearl Battle the SWS 2021 Feminist Activism Award.
Brittany’s nomination was submitted by Amanda M. Gengler, Andrea Gómez Cervantes, Victoria Reyes, Antonia Randolph, Bruce Jackson, Zawadi Rucks Ahidiana, and LaTonya J. Trotter. In her nomination package, it stated: “In the classroom, Dr. Battle also utilizes her scholar-activist framework to teach sociology and empower her students to work towards social change. In only her second year at Wake Forest, Dr. Battle has already created and taught four different classes, all utilizing a Black feminist framework to understand sociology. This is perhaps most visible in her Social Justice class, where she teaches students to question knowledge and power production in the pursuit of “justice.” Nonetheless, her most transformational acts of scholar-activism reveal themselves in the Teach-ins she organized during the Occupy Winston Salem work described earlier. Whether it was gathering on the sidewalk pavement in front of the local detention center, or sitting in a circle at a park, Dr. Battle broke the walls of the ivory tower bringing academia into the streets. With weekly, sometimes daily teach-ins, Dr. Battle brought together scholars, community organizations, and community members to talk about structural and local issues, on topics ranging from abolition to housing; the criminalization of Black youth, to immigration detention, and much more.”
Here is the direct link to share this news: https://socwomen.org/congratulations-to-dr-brittany-pearl-battle-the-2021-sws-feminist-activism-award-winner/
The 2021 SWS Distinguished Feminist Lecturer Award Winner is Mary Romero. Thank you to the SWS Distinguished Feminist Lecturer Subcommittee that was comprised of Kimberly Kelly (Chair), Katie Acosta and Morgan Matthews. The SWS Distinguished Feminist Lectureship was founded in 1985 as a way of recognizing members whose scholarship employs a feminist perspective, and of 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.
Mary Romero is Professor Emerita, Justice and Social Inquiry in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. She served as the 110th President of the American Sociological Association. She is the 2017 recipient of the Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award, 2015 Latina/o Sociology Section Founders Award, 2012 Julian Samora Distinguished Career Award, the Section on Race and Ethnic Minorities 2009 Founder’s Award, and the 2004 Study of Social Problems Lee Founders Award. She is the author of Introducing Intersectionality (Polity Press, 2018), The Maid’s Daughter: Inside and Outside the American Dream (NYU, 2011), Maid in the U.S.A. (NYU, 1992), co-editor of eight books, and numerous social science journals and law review articles.
As noted in her nomination materials submitted by Bandana Purkayastha, Josephine Beoku-Betts, Melanie Heath, Georgiann Davis, Shobha Hamal Gurung, Vrushali Patil, and Ranita Ray:
“Dr. Romero’s work in Maid in America and The Maid’s Daughter remains pertinent to the immigration landscape in the U.S. today. The earlier book, not surprisingly, has remained in print for over 20 years. These books tap into a key theme—the need for decent work conditions. As the number of female workers have grown in the U.S., often, women and men in upper-level white collar jobs have used the labor of poor immigrant women to manage “family responsibilities.” This story needs to be told repeatedly if we are truly striving for equity, and Professor Romero has done so with great sensitivity. Importantly, Professor Romero has produced her analysis from her location in the state of Arizona where anti-immigration politicians have created a state of fear and hate for immigrants and people of color.”
The nominators also noted: “Professor Romero’s work with faculty and graduate students of color at Arizona State University is legendary. However, we have seen her quiet activism within SWS as she supported so many junior and senior faculty by lending an ear when they needed it, including them in programs she was involved in, and travelling to their universities to give lectures to show the strength of sociologists on campuses that had very few feminist scholars.”
Here is the direct link to share this news: https://socwomen.org/maryromero2021swsfemlecturer/
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 Corinne Castro (Subcommittee Chair,) Manisha Desai, Rebecca P, Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Bandana Purkayastha, and Ashley Kim. The Subcommittee selected Heather Laube as the SWS 2021 Feminist Mentoring Award Winner.
Heather is an associate professor of sociology and core faculty in the Women’s and Gender Studies program at the University of Michigan-Flint. She served as the UM-Flint Thompson Center for Learning and Teaching Faculty Fellow for Mentoring and continues to work with a team of people on her campus to build and strengthen mentoring programs for faculty and staff. In 2015, she taught and researched at Karl-Franzens University in Graz, Austria, as a Fulbright scholar. Heather has long been interested in how feminist academics find ways to remain true to their feminist ideals while also attending to the reality and goals of their professional lives. Her work explores how scholars’ feminist and sociological identities intersect with their institutional locations to offer opportunities to transform the academy. She has explored how innovative faculty mentoring programs might contribute to institutional change in higher education. Heather has served in a number of leadership roles in SWS. The organization and its members have been central to her development as a feminist sociologist, teacher, scholar, and colleague.
The nominators for Heather Laube were Jennifer Alvey, Sharon Bird, Tristan Bridges, Krista Brumley, Kris De Welde, Sasha Drummond-Lewis, Angie Hattery, and Sarah Sobieraj. In the collectively penned nomination letter, the writers enthusiastically describe how Professor Laube “takes feminist mentoring to an entirely other level.” Her work with individuals as well as organizations, such as SWS and the University of Michigan-Flint, to transform mentoring highlights Laube’s personal and scholarly commitments to this work. Speaking as her colleague at UM-Flint, Jennifer Alvey states the following: “her sustained and highly successful work revitalizing and re-envisioning the Faculty Mentor Program is a direct result of her research driven approach to identifying and solving problems, as well as to her ability to think creatively and foster the implementation of evidenced based best practices tailored to our unique circumstances. Heather’s mentoring in the department constitutes what I can only call a sea change.” The nominators also highlight Laube’s transformational work in re-envisioning the SWS Professional Needs Mentoring Program through adopting cutting edge best practices such as Mutual Mentoring models. Nominators also consider Laube a “holistic mentor” that “upends traditional expectations of mentoring as a senior-to-junior activity and instead approaches mentoring as a way of being, a way of caring, of advancing others regardless of their career stage.” Laube is also described as a “scout” for new feminist leaders on her campus and across SWS who need just a little bit of encouragement. However, the nominators make clear that “Professor Laube doesn’t just scout people. She also mentors by preparing organizations for the leadership they sometimes don’t know they need. While she is simultaneously mentoring a novice to take on their first leadership position, she is also preparing the organization for a leader who may be unconventional, someone who may not look like previous leaders, or who may work at an institution that is not typically at the table.” Sarah Sobieraj clearly conveys one of the many reasons why Heather Laube has been selected as the winner of the 2021 Feminist Mentoring Award: “Over decades of SWS summer and winter meetings, Heather has made a point of finding those who are at the literal margins — of the conversation, of the table, of the dancefloor– and working to welcome them in.”
Here is the direct link to share this news: https://socwomen.org/hlaubefemmentoringsws2021/
Congratulations to Laura Adler, the 2021 SWS Cheryl Allyn Miller Award Winner, and to Sidra Kamran, the 2021 Cheryl Allyn Miller Honorable Mention Awardee!
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 honors the late Cheryl Allyn Miller, a sociologist and feminist who studied women and paid work.
The 2021 Cheryl Allyn Miller Award Winner is Laura Adler. (Photo of Laura Adler on Right)
Laura Adler is a PhD candidate in sociology at Harvard University, where she works on topics at the intersection of economic sociology, organizations, gender, and cultural sociology. Her dissertation, “What’s a Job Candidate Worth? Pay-Setting, Gender Inequality, and the Changing Understanding of Fair Pay,” investigates how employers set pay and how organizations respond to pay equity laws. She uses multiple methods including in-depth interviews, archival research, and survey experiments to provide insight into pay-setting as an organizational practice and site for the reproduction of inequality. In new work, she is looking at the phenomenon of retaliation, proposing that instances of discrimination and harassment are only the beginning of a longer struggle over whether, when, and how to respond to the abuse of power.
Laura is a 2020-21 American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellow. Prior to her time at Harvard, she worked as an urban planner in New York City. She holds a Masters in City Planning from UC Berkeley and a BA in the Humanities from Yale University.
Laura’s article, “From the Job’s Worth to the Person’s Price: The Evolution of Pay-setting Practices since the 1950s” focuses on how the pay-setting process changed over time. She documents a major shift from the 1950s, when employers determined pay using precise measures of the internal value of each job, to today, when employers rely almost exclusively on data from the external labor market including the candidate’s own past salary, viewed as their individual market price.
Drawing on a new database of 982 pay-related articles from the Society of Human Resources Management and 75 interviews with people who set pay, she first describes these two pay-setting practices. She then provides a historical account of the shift, in which one period served as a catalyst. Between 1980 and 1985, American courts concluded that pay inequality arising in response to market conditions was not discriminatory, even if the market systematically undervalued women’s jobs. She shows that human resources practitioners strategically adopted market-based practices to reduce their legal liability. She uses the case to suggest a new pathway for the expansion of market processes: professional groups shift controversial responsibilities onto the impersonal market, using the market as a responsibility abdication machine to distance themselves from discriminatory outcomes.
(Photo of Sidra Kamran on Left)
Sidra Kamran, the 2021 Honorable Mention Awardee, is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at The New School for Social Research in New York. Her research and teaching interests include gender and sexuality, labor, economic sociology, social class, urban life, and global social theory. Her dissertation draws on interviews and ethnography in a women-only marketplace and a mixed-gender department store in Karachi to investigate why some occupations are associated with contradictory moral and economic statuses for women workers. She argues that working-class beauty and retail workers in Pakistan occupy a position of gendered status ambiguity and demonstrates how these workers leverage this ambiguity to maximize their economic and social status in different ways. Her other research uses digital ethnography and semi-structured interviews to explore emerging digital cultures among working-class women in Pakistan, with a special focus on TikTok. Her research has been funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, American Institute of Pakistan Studies, and The New School. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, she was a Fulbright Scholar at The New School and researcher at the Collective for Social Science Research in Karachi. Sidra’s submitted article “A Patchwork of Femininities: Fluctuating Gender Performances in a Women-only Marketplace in Pakistan” is currently under revision at a peer- reviewed journal. In this article, Sidra examines gender performances in the context of social stratification and develops an account of working-class women’s gendered struggles for class distinction.
Special thanks to the Cheryl Allyn Miller Award Subcommittee Members: Tre Wentling (Chair), Suki Xiao, Rianka Roy, Sarah A. Robert, Lisa Dilks and Maria Cecilia Hwang.