Congratulations to SWS Member, Emma Mishel, one of 10 Fellows to be named as 2020 Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellows in Women’s Studies

Emma Mishel, a Sociologists for Women in Society member has been named a WW Dissertation Fellow in Women’s Studies.  Emma is one of ten Fellows selected for 2020.

Emma Mishel is a doctoral candidate in sociology at New York University whose dissertation explores the determinants of labor market discrimination against sexual minorities in the US.

The Women’s Studies Fellowship is the only national program to support doctoral work on women’s and gendered issues. Each 2020 Fellow will receive a $5,000 award to help cover expenses incurred while completing their dissertations.

The press release below provides more details about the program and the 2020 class. You can also find it online here.


2020 Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellows in Women’s Studies Named

New Class of 10 Fellows Continues Legacy of Outstanding Scholarship, Strengthening Field of Women’s and Gender Studies

PRINCETON, NJ (April 16, 2020)—The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation is pleased to recognize 10 outstanding scholars as Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellows in Women’s Studies for 2020.

Continuing its commitment to fostering the field of women’s studies, the WW Women’s Studies Fellowship program supports promising humanities and social science Ph.D. candidates whose work address women’s and gendered issues in interdisciplinary and original ways. Each Fellow will receive a $5,000 stipend to use towards research related expenses—travel, data work/collection, supplies, and others.

Fellows in the 2020 class are completing their studies at some of the nation’s top institutions. They are working in departments such as sociology, anthropology, English, and classics. Some of the dissertation topics include an exploration of the political history of rain in a key water catchment area of Tanzania, the radical possibilities of fashion as a storytelling strategy in women’s historical fiction, representations of Black girls across genres and artistic media in the 20th and 21st century, and an ethnographic engagement with histories and practices of sanctuary along the Sonora-Arizona borderlands.

Fellows join an international network of WW Women’s Studies Fellows who have become distinguished faculty members, artists and novelists, and (in some cases) leaders in business, government, and the nonprofit sector. They include a Pulitzer Prize winner, two MacArthur Fellows, numerous Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellows, and many others who have achieved significant distinctions.

“Since its inception in 1974, the Woodrow Wilson Women’s Studies Fellowship has truly helped to create and shape gender studies, not just as a field of its own, but also across disciplines,” said Beverly Sanford, the Foundation’s Vice President. “We take tremendous pride in the Women’s Studies Fellows and their extraordinary accomplishments, and we’re delighted to be able to support the work of these emerging scholars.”

This competitive Fellowship program remains the only national program of its kind. Over the course of its 46-year history, the WW Women’s Studies Dissertation Fellowship has named more than 600 Fellows. A number of these Fellows volunteer their time as reviewers to help select new Women’s Studies Fellows and enthusiastically support the next generation of scholars in their fields.

More information about the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies can be found online at


About the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation ( identifies and develops the nation’s best minds to meet its most critical challenges. The Foundation supports its Fellows as the next generation of leaders shaping American society.


WW Dissertation Fellows in Women’s Studies, 2020

Sarah Brothers  •  Yale University, sociology
Expertise, Gender, and Marginality: Health-Related Practices Among People Who Inject Drugs in the United States

Jessie Fredlund  •  The Graduate Center, CUNY, anthropology
Ancestors and Rain in a Changing Climate: The Politics of Water, Knowledge and Time in a Catchment Area, Uluguru, Tanzania

Siobhan Meï   •  University of Massachusetts, Amherst, comparative literature
Refashioning History: Women as Sartorial Storytellers

Emma Mishel  •  New York University, sociology
Determinants of Labor Market Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities in the US:  An Intersectional and Experimental Analysis of Common Stereotypes

Kiana Murphy  •  University of Pennsylvania, English
Speculative Black Girl Ethics: Reading Practices, Visual Culture, and the Urgency of the Present

Nicole Nowbahar  •  Rutgers University, classics
Dress and Transgressions of Roman Women

Nithya Rajan  •  University of Minnesota, women and gender studies
The Politics of Labor, Livelihoods, and Living: Afghan refugee women’s experiences in India

Maryam Rokhideh  •  University of Notre Dame, anthropology
“Everything is on My Back”: Women, Work, and Welfare on the Congo-Rwanda Border

Barbara Sostaita  •  University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, religious studies
Sanctuary Everywhere: Practicing Care on the Migrant Trail

Annie Wilkinson  •  University of California–Irvine, anthropology
Securing the Family: Transnational Anti-Gender Activism in Mexico

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Congratulations to Katie Kaufman Rogers, the 2020 SWS Cheryl Allyn Miller Award Winner!

Congratulations to Katie Kaufman Rogers, the 2020 SWS Cheryl Allyn Miller Award Winner!

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 2020 Cheryl Allyn Miller Award Winner is Katie Kaufman Rogers.

Katie Kaufman Rogers is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her dissertation, “Breaking the Grass Ceiling: Gender, Race, and Class in U.S. Legal Cannabis Industry,” examines women’s labor experiences as workers, executives, and entrepreneurs in a historically male-dominated cannabis labor industry. Her dissertation is a qualitative study of women in the regulated cannabis industry, a multibillion-dollar market in the United States. This research uses in-depth interviews with women workers, executives, and entrepreneurs, as well as field observations in dispensaries and a qualitative content analysis of marketing materials, advertisements, and news reports, to investigate women’s roles in the industry. The goal is to learn which groups, if any, are benefiting from legalization(s), and examine how the construction of regulated cannabis is gendered, racialized, and classed.

Katie is a graduate affiliate of the UT Austin Urban Ethnography Lab and the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice. Her research is supported by the National Science Foundation. She is most recently the recipient of the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, the Rapport Center for Human Rights and Justice Fieldwork Fellowship, and a number of University of Texas awards, including the College of Liberal Arts Continuing Fellowship, Dean’s Prestigious Fellowship Supplement Award, and the Sociology Department Fall Research Fellowship.

Kaufman Rogers’ article, “Breaking the Grass Ceiling: Gender, Labor, and Legitimacy in U.S. Legal Cannabis Industry,” is the 2018 winner of the Bruce D. Johnson Best Graduate Student Paper Award (American Sociological Association on Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco section). The article draws on 20 in-depth interviews with women workers, executives, and entrepreneurs in the U.S. cannabis industry. Kaufman Rogers investigates women’s participation in an otherwise male-dominated and masculinized cannabis occupation and industry. She finds women use three discursive strategies to promote and justify their buying, selling and production of cannabis, which ultimately, serves to re-gender cannabis labor as legitimate for women. However, these discourses, she argues, draw on race and class stereotypes, further entrenching gender stereotypes and simultaneously reconfiguring symbolic boundaries that maintain segregation.

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

Congratulations to the SWS 2020 Feminist Activism Award Winner: Ophra Leyser-Whalen

Congratulations to the SWS 2020 Feminist Activism Award Winner: Ophra Leyser-Whalen

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 Amy Blackstone. The Subcommittee decided that Ophra Leyser-Whalen will be the SWS 2020 Feminist Activism Award Winner. As part of this award, Ophra will deliver her Feminist Activism Talk at the SWS Summer Meeting in 2021 to take place in Chicago, Illinois and will participate in a campus visit during the 2020-2021 academic year. Ophra was nominated by Adelle Dora Monteblanco, Theresa Morris, and Georgiann Davis.

Ophra Leyser-Whalen is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at El Paso where she’s enjoying living, learning, and contributing to the US-Mexico border community, both as a civilian, and a sociologist collaborating with community groups such as the local abortion fund and a local birth resource center. She is a mixed-methods researcher working extensively with undergraduate and graduate students, publishing in clinical and social science journals on issues of reproductive health and justice with specific attention to issues of fertility, contraception, and abortion.

What stood out to the subcommittee was Ophra’s commitment to engaging in feminist activism with regard to her students and in local community. As her nominator(s) said “Ophra’s entire career has revealed the depth of her feminist focus and her commitment to making the world a better place for women, politically and socially. Fortunately for her community—UTEP, SWS, El Paso and beyond—she applies mind, body, and spirit to this goal.”

At the university level, her nominators stated “As a faculty member in a position of power, Ophra takes very seriously her responsibility to mentor marginalized students at all stages of their career, especially female scholars—another example of her commitment to feminist activism within the academy. Ophra has been highly engaged with undergraduate research (UR)—intensive research mentorship of undergraduate students… Ophra is also a careful and attentive mentor to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, as evidenced by the four co-authored publications produced by her mentored research with graduate students.” She also has worked to cultivate a supportive network among junior faculty at her university.

More than her university-related service, Ophra is committed to working with three non-profit organizations: Texas Rising, West Fund and El Jardin, all of which are dedicated to reproductive justice, LGPTQ rights and women’s rights. As the nominators described, the university is located in El Paso, “along the U.S.-Mexico border [and] reproductive health care, women’s rights and LGBTQ rights have been consistently undermined and underfunded by the state.”  With Texas Rising, Ophra has served as faculty advisor for it is UTEP chapter student group for six years and she has “has supported a variety of their leadership efforts: voter registration, inviting State Representative Wendy Davis to UTEP, co-organizing the El Paso Women’s March, and co-organizing a fashion show for queer justice and reproductive justice” (nomination letter).

Nominators describe West Fund as an El Paso-based nonprofit, and more specifically, it “is a small group of volunteers who believe reproductive justice is only possible when all people have the information, ability, and resources to make their own healthcare decisions. West Fund fulfills its reproductive justice mission, in part, through gap funding. Raising these gap funds for West Fund is a responsibility Ophra has taken seriously: at every sociology conference she attends, Ophra brings West Fund merchandise and trades it for donations; she has raised nearly $1,000 through this effort. In addition, she also collaborates with other West Fund volunteers to write thank you letters and pack merchandise.” Ophras has also co-submitted with West Fund an application to the Society for Family Planning to support West Fund’s work, including hiring staff for data collection and analysis.

Her work in the community and university are further linked in her co-designed and co-implemented research-based Introduction to Sociology course, which focused on medicalization of childbirth. As her nominator – and co-teacher of the course – stated

“The undergraduate research component of the Intro course was carried out in a mutually beneficial collaboration with an El Paso nonprofit, El Jardín Birth and Family Resource Center, an organization whose mission is to “nurture a regional culture through education and advocacy that supports, cares for, and empowers women during the critical transition of birth and parenthood.” One of El Jardín’s recent efforts is Birth Stories, a collection of video-recorded interviews with local mothers and maternal health providers that traces the history of the region’s birth culture. In collaboration with El Jardín, Ophra’s sociology students developed and shared their research skills to support the videos’ conversion into an educational documentary designed to be a resource for both health professionals and private citizens. The spring 2017 students collectively transcribed and analyzed four video interviews with local maternal health providers; the spring 2018 students completed thorough reviews of the academic literature so the documentary could include peer-reviewed data (such as how and why prenatal education can improve birth outcomes for mothers and infants). These course activities offered students a prolonged intellectual engagement with the research process and contact with community activists and organizers.”

Border politics is a pressing issue in today’s society and Ophra’s dedication to serving her local community is admirable.