The Sex and Gender Section sponsors a number of awards for outstanding scholarship. We are pleased to announce the following distinguished contributions to the field. Information about nominating scholars and scholarship for awards for the current year and a listing of past award winners is available here:
Congratulations to the 2017 Section Award Winners!
Sociology of Sex and Gender Distinguished Article Award
Paige Sweet (University of Illinois, Chicago)
“Chronic Victims, Risky Women: Domestic Violence Advocacy and the Medicalization of Abuse.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 41: 81-106, 2015.
Critical literature on the antiviolence movement has largely overlooked the role of biomedical institutions in depoliticizing domestic violence advocacy. Additionally, studies of medicalization have largely failed to attend to domestic violence screening and diagnosis as key technologies through which gendered biomedical surveillance has expanded. Based on interviews with domestic violence medical advocates and health-care providers, I show how domestic violence is being transformed into a chronic disease category, thereby reconfiguring the historical relationship between feminist-based advocacy and medical expertise. What follows is a scientized and degendered transformation of causal explanations for domestic violence: rather than patriarchy, advocates now explain domestic violence using the language of risk. I argue that haunting this construction of women as at high risk for abuse is a reconstituted gender essentialism that casts women victims as passive recipients of their partners’ abusive actions.
Lauren A. Rivera (Northwestern University) and Andras Tilcsik (University of Toronto)
“Class Advantage, Commitment Penalty: The Gendered Effect of Social Class Signals in an Elite Labor Market.” American Sociological Review 81: 1097 – 1131, 2016.
Research on the mechanisms that reproduce social class advantages in the United States focuses primarily on formal schooling and pays less attention to social class discrimination in labor markets. We conducted a résumé audit study to examine the effect of social class signals on entry into large U.S. law firms. We sent applications from fictitious students at selective but non-elite law schools to 316 law firm offices in 14 cities, randomly assigning signals of social class background and gender to otherwise identical résumés. Higher-class male applicants received significantly more callbacks than did higher-class women, lower-class women, and lower-class men. A survey experiment and interviews with lawyers at large firms suggest that, relative to lower-class applicants, higher-class candidates are seen as better fits with the elite culture and clientele of large law firms. But, although higher-class men receive a corresponding overall boost in evaluations, higher-class women do not, because they face a competing, negative stereotype that portrays them as less committed to full-time, intensive careers. This commitment penalty faced by higher-class women offsets class-based advantages these applicants may receive in evaluations. Consequently, signals of higher-class origin provide an advantage for men but not for women in this elite labor market.
Sociology of Sex and Gender Distinguished Book Award
Georgiann Davis (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
Contesting Intersex: The Dubious Diagnosis. New York University Press, 2015.
When sociologist Georgiann Davis was a teenager, her doctors discovered that she possessed XY chromosomes, marking her as intersex. Rather than share this information with her, they withheld the diagnosis in order to “protect” the development of her gender identity; it was years before Davis would see her own medical records as an adult and learn the truth. Davis’ experience is not unusual. Many intersex people feel isolated from one another and violated by medical practices that support conventional notions of the male/female sex binary which have historically led to secrecy and shame about being intersex. Yet, the rise of intersex activism and visibility in the US has called into question the practice of classifying intersex as an abnormality, rather than as a mere biological variation. This shift in thinking has the potential to transform entrenched intersex medical treatment.
In Contesting Intersex, Davis draws on interviews with intersex people, their parents, and medical experts to explore the oft-questioned views on intersex in medical and activist communities, as well as the evolution of thought in regards to intersex visibility and transparency. She finds that framing intersex as an abnormality is harmful and can alter the course of one’s life. In fact, controversy over this framing continues, as intersex has been renamed a ‘disorder of sex development’ throughout medicine. This happened, she suggests, as a means for doctors to reassert their authority over the intersex body in the face of increasing intersex activism in the 1990s and feminist critiques of intersex medical treatment. Davis argues the renaming of ‘intersex’ as a ‘disorder of sex development’ is strong evidence that the intersex diagnosis is dubious. Within the intersex community, though, disorder of sex development terminology is hotly disputed; some prefer not to use a term which pathologizes their bodies, while others prefer to think of intersex in scientific terms. Although terminology is currently a source of tension within the movement, Davis hopes intersex activists and their allies can come together to improve the lives of intersex people, their families, and future generations. However, for this to happen, the intersex diagnosis, as well as sex, gender, and sexuality, needs to be understood as socially constructed phenomena. A personal journey into medical and social activism, Contesting Intersex presents a unique perspective on how medical diagnoses can affect lives profoundly.
Robert Wyrod (University of Colorado, Boulder)
AIDS and Masculinity in the African City: Privilege, Inequality, and Modern Manhood. University of California Press, 2016.
AIDS has been a devastating plague in much of sub-Saharan Africa, yet the long-term implications for gender and sexuality are just emerging. AIDS and Masculinity in the African City tackles this issue head on and examines how AIDS has altered the ways masculinity is lived in Uganda—a country known as Africa’s great AIDS success story. Based on a decade of ethnographic research in an urban slum community in the capital Kampala, this book reveals the persistence of masculine privilege in the age of AIDS and the implications such privilege has for combating AIDS across the African continent.
Sociology of Sex and Gender Feminist Scholar Activist Award
Georgiann Davis (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
Sociology of Sex and Gender Sally Hacker Graduate Student Paper Award
Michela Musto (University of Southern California)
“Becoming Geniuses and Leaders: Gender, Academic Tracking, and Boys’ Misbehaviors in Middle School.”
Max Besbris (New York University)
“Revanchist Masculinity: Gender Attitudes in Sex Work Management”
Section on Sex and Gender
American Sociological Association