Kirsten Dellinger is the 2023 SWS Feminist Activism Award Winner
JANUARY 19, 2023 BY NATASHA SANTANA
The Sociologists for Women in Society 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 Ghassan Moussawi (Subcommittee Chair), Brittany Battle, LaToya Council and Rocio Garcia. The Subcommittee selected Kirsten Dellinger as the SWS 2023 Feminist Activism Award Winner.
Kirsten Dellinger is a Professor of Sociology and the Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi (2018 to present). She formerly served as Department chair in Sociology and Anthropology for 11 years (2007-2018). She received her B.A. degree in psychology at Rollins College and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin. She brings a feminist sociological approach to bear on efforts to identify and address racial, gender, and sexual inequalities in department and university settings. She has helped build the Pathways to Equity plan for the College of Liberal Arts to create policies and practices that support faculty, staff, and students in their work. As part of this effort she is leading the first cluster hire initiative to bring diverse and cutting-edge research, teaching, and scholars to the College at the University of Mississippi. She is currently collaborating with campus partners to seek funding from NSF ADVANCE Catalyst and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Inclusive Excellence 3 initiatives to foster institutional transformation in STEM and beyond.
Her research and teaching interests focus on gender and sexuality through intersectional and qualitative lenses to better understand the dynamics of workplace culture, inequality, and social change. She has mentored over 50 graduate students in their research on these and related topics. She co-edited a book with Christine L. Williams entitled Gender and Sexuality in the Workplace (Emerald). She has published articles on workplace culture and sexual harassment, the construction of masculinities in organizations, workplace dress norms, and the dynamics of gay friendly workplaces, in journals such as the Annual Review of Sociology, Gender & Society, Social Problems, Gender Issues, Sexuality Research and Social Policy and Sociological Spectrum. She has also published work on the methodological implications of disaster research in the context of Hurricane Katrina and a variety of articles on the Global South.
She has been actively involved in campus and national organizations that promote gender and racial equality including the University of Mississippi’s Sarah Isom Center for Women/Gender Studies, the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement’s Diversity Liaison Committee, the Slavery Research Group, the Chancellor’s Committee on Sensitivity and Respect, Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS), and the American Sociological Association’s Committee on the Status of Women. She recently served on the executive committee for the Southern Sociological Society and has been an editorial board member for academic journals including Gender & Society, Social Problems, and Social Contexts.
Kirsten’s central nominator, Christine Williams indicated, “For the past four years, Kirsten has held the position of Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi. She is the first person to occupy this position. In this role, Kirsten has engaged in strategic planning and built an infrastructure for DEI programming from the ground up. Providing direct support for the hiring, promotion, and retention of Black faculty is central to her work. To this end, she has instituted cluster hires, improved the faculty search process, and increased available resources for faculty research. She also supports Black students from recruitment to graduation and beyond. Kirsten uses her significant background and expertise in sociology to promote feminist social change at the University of Mississippi.”
Kirsten has been a leader in promoting gender equity at the University of Mississippi. Through her service on the Pay Equity committee (part of the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women), she co-wrote a report which led to increases in pay for many women faculty on campus. That report also looked at the impact of racial inequality on pay. With other feminists, she started “Equal Pay Day”–handing out “pay day” candy bars at the Student Union. The Provost at the time, Carolyn Staton (the first and only woman Provost at the University) implemented the recommendations of the report.
As a faculty member and as Chair, Kirsten is a highly visible proponent and supporter of feminist and anti-racist student groups. As her CV attests, she has participated in numerous panels related to gender and race equality and diversity. She makes herself available to student groups working for equality on campus and participates in student-led protests to support their work. For example, the movement to combat sexual assault on her campus is growing in part thanks to the emergence of a student group on campus called RASA (Rallying Against Sexual Assault). This group was founded by one of her students in her Sociology of Gender course.