2020 Winter Award Winners

SWS 2020 Winter Award Winners


Congratulations to Katie L. Acosta, the 2020 SWS Distinguished Feminist Lecturer Award Winner

The 2020 SWS Distinguished Feminist Lecturer Award Winner is Katie L. Acosta. Thank you to the SWS Distinguished Feminist
Lecturer Subcommittee that was comprised of Marybeth C. Stalp (Chair), Kimberly Kelly, Angela Hattery, and Koyel Khan. The SWS Distinguished 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.

Katie L. Acosta is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Georgia State University. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Hunter College in New York. She went on to earn her MA and PhD from the University of Connecticut.  She is unapologetically proud of being a first generation college student and daughter of immigrants.  Her research and scholarly interests center the intersections of gender, sexuality, Latinx Studies, race/ethnicity, family, and immigration. She is the author of Amigas y Amantes: Sexually Nonconforming Latinas Negotiate Family, which explores the ways sexually nonconforming Latinas manage relationships with their partners, families of origin, and families of choice. Her second book, Stepping into Queer Parenting centers the social, and legal experiences of LBQ stepparent families before and after marriage equality. Stepping into Queer Parenting, which highlights the complex dynamics that influence parenting under these circumstances and the ingenious ways respondents make their families work, will be available for purchase in 2020.  In addition to her books, her work appears in the Journal of Family Theory & ReviewFamily Relations, Sexualities, Journal of Homosexuality, Sexualities Research and Social Policy, Gender & Society and various edited volumes.  Her most recent research project is a mixed-methods study that explores the experiences of Central American and Mexican asylum seekers in the age of Trump. This project focuses on how this most recent influx of asylum seekers shapes race and ethnic ties with impoverished racially minoritized Atlantans.  Dr. Acosta regularly teaches Race and Ethnic Relations, Families & Society, Qualitative Research Methods, Sexualities, and Gender & Society.  As a public sociologist and scholar activist, Dr. Acosta has served as a consultant for nonprofit organizations interested in promoting racial equity in their workplaces. She also serves in a consulting capacity for educators committed to bringing a multicultural curriculum to their schools.She is a current council member for the American Sociological Associations’ Sex and Gender section, Vice President elect for the Southern Sociological Society and Co-chair of the Discrimination and Academic Justice Committee for the Sociologists for Women in Society.

Julia McQuillan and Nancy Naples submitted the central nomination letter for Acosta. They highlight that Acosta’s work advances feminist insights in innovative and exciting ways to understudied areas (i.e. the intersections of family, sexuality, and ethnicity). The note that she is dedicated to bringing feminist intersectional lenses to multiple audiences inside and outside the academy. Her blog (http://www.katielacosta.com/blog/) makes clear that she can bring feminist research to broader audiences and speak to publics that may not be familiar with feminist scholarship. They note that Katie’s area of research – feminist intersectional approaches to families, sexuality, immigration, race, and gender – focused primarily on Latinas – is innovative and important.

Others who contributed to Acosta’s nomination include: Jessica Fields, Carla A. Pfeffer, Barbara Gurr, J.E. Sumereau, Marni Brown, Wendy Simonds, Mindy Stombler, Elisabeth O. Burgess, alithia zamantakis, Dresden Lackey, and Dionne Parris.

J.E. Sumerau wrote the following statement about Acosta, “Stepping outside the academy, there are even more examples of her impact and ability to speak to multiple audiences. For example, I think about the way she started blogging about politics, laws, classroom negotiation, and civil rights battles happening in her own part of Atlanta and throughout the nation.”

Carla A. Pfeffer notes, “Dr. Acosta also maintains a blog, on her personal website, in which she writes about the experiences and struggles of women of color in the academy, the emotional labor of women in the #metoo movement, navigating the world and its assumptions as a mixed-race family, academic precarity and surviving the job market, and racist and xenophobic social policy in the U.S. today. It is in this way that Dr. Acosta continuously, through her research and teaching practices across numerous and diverse modalities, continues to productively push, challenge, and transform disciplines and disciplinary boundaries. Dr. Acosta’s research publications have also been reprinted, which attests not only to their importance and popularity, but to their ability to shift and broaden thinking and conversations as well.

Wendy Simonds, Mindy Stombler, and Elisabeth O. Burgess note the following regarding Acosta: “She recently gave a talk on her results to our department and she did a wonderful job sharing her findings in a clear and engaging way, despite the complexities of presenting the effects of family law across states (and time).”

As part of the recognition, Acosta will develop a lecture that she will deliver in two venues: 1) at the 2022 Winter Meeting and 2) on one selected college or university during the 2021-2022 academic year. Her lecture or a paper based on it will be published in Gender & Society.


Congratulations to Rhacel Salazar Parreñas and Rachel P., the SWS Mentoring Award winners!

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 Manisha Desai (Subcommittee Co-Chair) Paula England (Subcommittee Co-Chair,) Laura Simon, Courtney Caviness, Patti Giuffre, and Nicole Bedera. The Subcommittee decided that both Rhacel Salazar Parreñas and Rebecca P. will be the SWS 2020 Feminist Mentoring Award Winners.

Rhacel Salazar Parreñas is Professor of Sociology and Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Southern California. Her areas of research include labor, gender, international migration, the family and economic sociology. She is an ethnographer whose research examines experiences of migrant workers from the Philippines. Professor Parreñas has written five monographs as well as numerous peer- reviewed articles including the book Servants of Globalization: Migration and Domestic Work (Stanford Press, 2015). Her most recent project examines the constitution of migrant domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates as unfree workers. She has received research funding from the Fulbright, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and National Science Foundation, and fellowship invitations from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Study. In 2019, she received the Jessie Bernard Award. She is currently Vice President-Elect for ASA and is a former Vice President for SWS.

The nominators for Parreñas were Victoria Reyes, Emmanuel David, LaToya Council, Marco Garrido, Maria Hwang, katrina quisumbing king, Rick Alanos Baldoz, Carolyn Choi, Kimberly Kay Hoang, Minwoo Jung, Monica Liu, Julia Meszaros, and Steven McKay. In the nomination letter, many mentioned Parreñas’ energy and compassion. Several noted that Parreñas is able to mentor others to do excellent feminist scholarship partly because she is such a great scholar herself – having done important intersectional work on Filipina domestic worker migrants and their families, and on human trafficking. Kimberly Kay Hoang of University of Chicago lauded her mentoring work with the Ford Foundation Scholars program. Letter writers talked about her mentoring as multidimensional—helping budding scholars to make their work better, explaining unspoken norms, suggesting when and how to negotiate, and connecting them with networks helpful to their interests. Rick Baldoz of Oberlin College wrote that it is common for her to commit to writing 6-9 tenure and/or promotion letters per year, prioritizing writing on behalf of those “doing cutting edge feminist work that might not be legible to older scholars.” Several writers noted that she actively links feminist activists across the globe. Carolyn Choi, a student at the University of Southern California, noted that Parreñas has trained and mentored over a dozen students of color in less than a decade at the University of Southern California.

Rebecca P. is Professor of Sociology and is a Women’s & Gender Studies Affiliate at a private undergraduate college. She teaches all aspects of sociology, including research methods, theory, capstone and cornerstone. Her research addresses the sociological construction of sexualities and sexual climates and cultures. In addition to standard academic scholarship, she writes books and chapters about sexualities and gender for undergraduate readers, striving to make sociology accessible. Among other accomplishments, she has provided servant-leadership for two sexualities journals and for several ASA sections (Council). She has done public sociology for decades, including co-hosting a regional radio call-in show, talking about virginity with an international women’s magazine, and writing about sexual consent campaigns in the higher education industry newspaper. Recent activism has focused on sexual harassment and abuse of power in graduate programs. She cherishes her mentorship of undergraduates and works extensively to create communities that inclusively support faculty, staff, and students.

Rebecca P.’s nomination packet was submitted by 10 of her students and colleagues. One of her nominators indicated, “Rebecca helped me navigate the complex experience of being a feminist woman in Sociology, supported me through the sometimes debilitating self-doubt that accompanies the doctoral process and job search.” One undergrad noted: “As a first-year student who primarily learned about gender and sexualities from a conservative Christian family, Dr. P. played a pivotal role in my development as a feminist thinker. Like so many of the other supporters of her nomination for this award, Dr. P. provided the right combination of high expectations and enthusiasm for social analysis that was helpful both inside and outside of the classroom. Her empathetic yet critical approach to teaching has served as my model for helping students, faculty, and (unfortunately) administrators unpack their similarly-dogmatic assumptions about “racial” differences and crime.” Nominators noted that Dr. P. constantly promotes the value of self-care—especially with undergraduate students. Finally, one nominator wrote “Rebecca is the epitome of feminist mentor. She is fierce in her commitment to the field and her students/mentees. She is critical of the inequalities that structure our lives and our discipline. She is vulnerable, sharing her real experiences of life in the academy. While some mentors try to make success look effortless, Rebecca keeps it real and messy—because that is the truth. Striving for ease and perfection makes us fall to pieces; Rebecca has always let me know that it is ok to feel like falling apart, to take time to take care of myself, and to celebrate my achievements for the hard work that we put in.”


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.


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.