Myra Sadker Award Recipients


The Myra Sadker Foundation no longer funds student and teacher scholarships and awards.

Here is our recognition of previous award winners and a description of their projects:


Errin Brooks, North Carolina State University

Erinn’s dissertation is a workplace ethnography of a Network Charter School. She collected data by working as a teacher’s assistant over two school years. The study’s central focus is educational equity as it relates to both students and teachers. Erinn analyzes the nature of the schooling that young women of color receive. She also examines the systems of workplace control that teachers encounter. This study sheds light on women’s experiences at school and work, encouraging scholars and activists to work toward race-, gender-, and class-based equity in both spheres.

Hettie V. Williams, Drew University

Hettie’s dissertation is a historical analysis of the early Civil Rights Movement in New Jersey between 1912 and 1956. Specifically, she explores the critical role played by black women civil rights activists in forging interracial, cross-class, and cross-gender alliances at the local level and their involvement in securing the passing of progressive civil rights reforms such as in school integration in New Jersey. The central question:  How and why did New Jersey’s black leaders, community members, and women in particular effect major civil rights legislation, legal equality, and integration a decade before 1954?

Maris Zakka Zinyahs, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

Focusing on student-teacher interactions as well as bias that emerges from textbooks, Maris will research current mathematics teaching in Nigeria. The intention is to inform policy makers, mathematics teachers, researchers, and stakeholders on how to reduce or eliminate gender inequity in mathematics and in Nigerian society in general. The project will serve as a guide for the investigation of gender issues in other subject areas.  


Kavya Ramamoorthy, Priya Ramamoorthy, Maanasa Nathan, and Smrithi Mahadevan
Westwood High School, Austin, Texas

For the National History Day competition, these students created an award winning historical website on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX was a catalyst that led to a social revolution by addressing the issue of gender discrimination in educational institutions. While researching Title IX, these students realized that its biggest challenge lay in the fact many students were unaware of this federal law. Their goal is to educate students about the protections and opportunities provided by Title IX. Through the American Association of University Women and other organizations, they continue to raise awareness through presentations on this topic. There efforts were presented on Nickelodeon's Nick News with Linda Ellerbee.


Casey Quirarte Sarantos, Loyola Marymount University

Casey’s doctoral work is inspired by personal experience and years working with middle school girls to whom relational aggression is a serious and deeply personal issue. In her dissertation, Relational Aggression, Middle School Girls, and the Development of Critical Consciousness, Casey engages the issue of relational aggression among adolescent girls through the lens of feminist critical pedagogy as an issue of equity in education with deep roots in a society where girls and women are systematically marginalized. This participatory action research study investigates the impact of a curriculum program on participants’ ability to identify, speak about, and express critical awareness of relational aggression (and its systemic causes) while developing strategies to address it in their lives. This work and subsequent projects advocate for the creation of safe space groups, leadership opportunities, and educative experiences for adolescent girls that are both empowering and humanizing.

Cheryl. L. Shahan, Gallaudet University

This study will contribute to the field of sex equity in the classroom with a population that has not been previously addressed: PK-12th grade classrooms with Deaf teachers and Deaf students. The study explores how an elementary Deaf teacher interacts with Deaf students and if the interactions differ between Deaf girls and Deaf boys. The single-subject case study will use a mixed methods approach consisting of an observational system, use of videotapes, interviews, and field notes. Findings of this study may reflect how the Deaf teacher’s interactions with Deaf girls and Deaf boys may promote or inhibit sex equity in the classroom.

Cynthia Sheaks-McGowan, California Lutheran University

Dominant cultural stereotypes that regard teaching young children as low-skilled “women’s work” undermine both the higher education attainment of early childhood professionals and the educational success of our nation’s children. In this study, Cindy explores the transformative experiences of female community college early childhood education students who expand their educational vision beyond the marginalized societal image toward earning a bachelor’s degree. This research is intended to give voice to counter narratives that highlight aspiring early childhood teachers’ strengths and competence. Additionally, these perspectives will contribute to a deeper understanding of the policies and programs that support early childhood student degree attainment.


Leslye Obiora, Institute for Research on African Women, Children and Culture

This Nigerian project includes young female students learning literacy and health skills being taught by retired female teachers. These students then go out to teach literacy and health skills to older, unschooled women in the community. These older women in return teach craft skills to the young girls. This grass roots project empowers generations of women to take greater control of their lives and futures. The result is improved health and economic welfare, social empowerment and increased educational opportunities.


Pam Hancock Bowers, University of Texas at Arlington

A growing body of research estimates sexual minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, are twice as likely to smoke when compared to their heterosexual peers. The proposed research seeks to culturally adapt a gender-sensitive smoking cessation curriculum to fit the needs of sexual minority youth. While sensitivity to a traditional gender binary may be relevant to heterosexual youth, an important gap exists in the domain of gender non-conformity as portrayed by LGBT youth. Overall, the proposed research program is expected to increase the access and relevancy of the curriculum to a population disproportionately impacted by the burdens of tobacco. Longer term it is expected that the youth will develop healthy coping skills, new decision-making strategies, and other life management skills as a result of having participated in this modified curriculum.

Jacquelyn D. Elliott, George Washington University

Jacqui’s research is a study of organizational evolution within the American Council of Education’s (ACE) Office of Women in Higher Education (OWHE). The dissertation was conducted through the use of a single organizational case study and explored the history of the OWHE over a 38-year period from its founding in 1973 through its reorganization and closing in 2011. Very little research on organizational saga and identity had been done on women’s associations, and no complete historical treatment of the OWHE existed prior to this dissertation. The lack of such studies represents a void in the critical area of understanding how and why women’s organizations with a mission to promote female professional advancement emerge, prevail, maintain resiliency, and ultimately, decline. Furthermore, this study expands the scope of research designs applicable to organizational saga and organizational identity theories by identifying not just the process of evolution, growth, and decline, but also, the core characteristics of evolution and decline created by the OWHE during its 38-year history. The methods used to analyze data emerged from archives, documents, and interviews. The goal of her research was to not only create a history of the OWHE, but also, to better understand how a single organization through its own lifecycle can make national impact.

Kathy Stoehr, University of Arizona

As evidence of preservice elementary teachers’ math anxiety and confidence, Kathy analyzes four teacher candidates’ oral and written narratives about their experiences with learning mathematics and learning to teach mathematics, which she collected over eighteen months at key moments in their teacher preparation program. Based on her analysis of these narratives, she identifies patterns in how these women’s experiences as K-16 mathematics learners informed their experiences as developing mathematics teachers. The analysis for this dissertation is intended to influence elementary teacher preparation programs with a specific focus on women who have anxiety and low confidence in mathematics.

Maria Liu Wong, Columbia University

In the face of patriarchal and Western-influenced paradigms in Christian theological education worldwide, this study explores how the life experiences of women faculty, from African, Asian, Asian North American and West Indian American backgrounds, impact their understanding and negotiation of leadership inside and outside of the classroom. The study documents the stories of 12 such women through interviews and portraiture, and generates knowledge of strategies and engagement as leaders from doubly marginalized populations through a collaborative inquiry (CI) process involving five of the participants and the researcher. Emergent themes and implications for further study and research from both the portraits and collaborative inquiry will contribute to a deeper and richer understanding of ways to better serve current and future students, men and women, as a means to foster a more fair and just paradigm of contextual theological formation.


Maria Arredondo, California State University, Long Beach

The focus of this study is gender identity development. The study investigates potential links between reading the popular Disney Princess Fairytales and the way children behave. We study children’s autonomous behaviors, their adherence to prescriptive gender roles, their marriage expectations, and their focus on appearances.

Keith Moy, California State University, Long Beach

There is a remarkable dearth of gender diversity in STEM (science, math, technology, engineering, and mathematic) careers. The goal of this study is to investigate the emergence and consequences of gender and racial stereotypes in very young children (ages 4-7). For example, if children are aware that social stereotypes prescribe math for males, does this affect their motivation to engage in math?


Kelly Lynn, University of Maryland

Kelly Lynn’s research centers on the gender stereotypes which many children hold that condone physical aggression by boys and relational aggression (such as gossiping) by girls.  She will study children’s willingness to reject peer group norms which condone gender stereotypic forms of aggression, and to examine if they risk social exclusion and rejection for resisting these gender stereotypes. The goal is to investigate under what conditions children and adolescents will evaluate their peer group’s gender stereotypic norms about aggression (physical and relational aggression) as wrong and how they conceptualize the potential costs or consequences for resisting a group’s norm. Further, this study will thoroughly assess children’s reasoning about gender stereotypic forms of aggression, clarifying the reasons why children might struggle to reject aggressive behavior on the part of their peers and how they view children who do stand up to challenge their group’s stereotypic norms. It is expected that this study will provide vital information for teachers, counselors and policy-makers about how to best to create positive school environments. Specifically, this study will aid teachers by providing insight into how to help children feel comfortable challenging their group and rejecting both pernicious gender stereotypes and aggressive behavior. 

Erin Morales-Williams, Temple University

This ethnography will investigate how young urban female camp counselors of color (ages 18-26) regulate the gender and sexual politics of a teen travel summer camp; and in the process, teach their adolescent campers of color about ‘fashioning a sense of self in the face of inequity.’  In acknowledging the racial, gendered, and sexual power dynamics that shape youth sexual experiences and social relations, this study aims to position the female camp counselors as public pedagogues that reify, subvert, challenge, and/or complicate those dynamics and within a larger discourse. This study will be important for theorists and pedagogues within urban education who want to better understand young urban women of color as intellectual, cultural, and social resources. Additionally, practitioners within youth development, feminist and educational activism, social work, and public health will also benefit by having a fuller comprehension of the youth they serve, work with, and employ.

Gabrielle Oliveira, Columbia University

It has been estimated that, among the 12.7 million Mexicans currently living and working in the United States, 38 percent of fathers and 15 percent of mothers have children living in Mexico. Separated families are not a new phenomenon however, an increasing number of mothers are migrating without their children, suggest a major shift in the ways families around the world care for children. The goal of this research project is to understand the relationships that are created, maintained or transformed between child/caregiver/mother – what I refer to as a transnational “care constellation” – after the mother moves. Specifically, my project addresses how these relationships and care arrangements shape boys and girls educational and migration aspirations. How does gender shape the education opportunities children are getting? Through the incorporation of ethnographic, qualitative methods – including participant observation, visual methodologies, interviews with children, caregivers, fathers, siblings and mothers, and collaborative methods with youth and children my research asks: how does maternal migration affect the daily lives, education and migration aspirations, and educational experiences of boys and girls left behind?

Aimee Rickman, University of Illinois

U.S. females are too often cast as victims needing protection or as out of control social problems requiring containment for their own good. Building upon the work of communication and culture scholar Mary Gray and of cultural historian Nancy Lesko, my research uses queer, feminist, and critical theory to conduct a rural ethnography. I look beyond the fear and danger traditionally tied to adolescent girls' social involvements and ask how actions taken by young rural females in social media judged by adults and institutions as risky might be otherwise understood and employed as acts of resistance to marginalization within U.S. society. In doing so, this research considers how online acts further, but also absorb and dispel, young women's larger interests in equity. Overall, this study asks how adolescent-aged U.S. females' marginalized social position shapes their interests and involvements with new media technologies, and how these interests and involvements shape their realities both on- and off-line.


Megan M. Holland, Harvard University

The gender gap among African American students in college attendance is one of the most striking gender differences in achievement with females outnumbering males almost two to one. Megan’s research examines how the gender gap in college attendance emerges among middle class African American students and focuses on how one of the most influential and most gender-segregated areas of students’ lives affects these statistics - peer groups and peer culture. Using a social capital framework, she examines how peers can serve as the bearers of important information and support for students during their application to college, and also how obligations and peer norms may become obstacles to achievement. Megan’s dissertation uses a mixed-methods approach to investigate the agency that students have in the application process, as well as the effect of peers, parents, and the school. The goal of her dissertation is to increase our understanding of the connection between social experiences and educational outcomes and help illuminate some of the complexities of the gender gap.

Amanda Latz, Ball State University

Amanda’s dissertation is focused on how community college students construct their educational lives. In an era of economic frailty and heightened levels of unemployment across the United States, the community college has gained attention as a potential source economic recovery. However, there is a paucity of research on community college students. To best serve students within this sector of education, more must be known about them. This study blends the photovoice method and a constructivist grounded theory analytical frame. Participants are able to document and narrate their educational lives on their own terms, and as such, this dissertation weaves together a rich and dense set of visceral images and narratives overlaid with a robust analysis and interpretation. Findings related to gender- and class-based issues and inequities, among others, are explicated.

Libby Sharrow, University of Minnesota

As state and educational institutions implemented Title IX, the federal policy aimed at eradicating sex discrimination in higher education, they concurrently reformulated the role of gender in American politics. Using governmental archival sources and public opinion data, Libby evaluates Title IX through a "policy feedback" framework. She intends to demonstrate how Title IX's unintended consequences include creating opportunity for women to re-imagine and re-articulate their roles as political agents. In doing so, Title IX's implementation effects altered political opportunities, roles, and customs for women.

Eleshia Smith, DePaul University

Drawing on the prior research on African-American female identity construction (Shorter- Gooden & Washington, 1996; Stephens and Phillips 2005), Eleshia explores the relationship between the classroom and teacher/student interactions for African-American young women in high school. Her previous research revealed the importance of 1) care 2) structure and 3) how through reengagement in schooling these African-American young women in second chance programs conceptualize school to success. Because literature on under-achievement, dropping out, and school discipline problem often focuses on African-American, Latino, and other young men (Noguera , 2002; Reis, S. & McCoach, D. 2000), there is a scarcity of knowledge available about reengaging young women in school. Eleshia attempts to address this gap by exploring self-defined notions of care, boundary-setting and definitions of success and how these factors can combine to help reengage African-American females in school. These issues are fundamental to providing a successful academic environment for African-American girls. Unless strides are made in schools to create such platforms for them to exist, the achievement gap for these girls will only continue to widen, leaving them further behind.

Houda Slim, University El Manar, Tunisia

In the literature, many researchers such as Sadker & Sadker (1994), Beal (1994) and Bailey (1997) notice that despite the increasing numbers of male teachers, teaching is still very much a gendered profession. Particularly in elementary schools, teaching is a profession dominated by women. This can negatively impact both male and female children. Females may learn from a young age that as women, they are fit for nurturing professions, especially those dealing with children. Males may feel reluctant to identify with a female teacher and may have difficulty seeing female teachers as role models. Considering the hyper-gendered environment of classrooms, be it in western or eastern societies, the focus of Houda’s study is to investigate content and delivery of education in the Arab, Muslim and patriarchal context of Tunisian primary schools. Through qualitative and quantitative methods of investigation, she will address curriculum messages, teachers-students dynamics and peers interactions within the classroom environment. Specific recommendations will be addressed to the Tunisian ministry of education to provide mandatory gender-equity resources and textbooks to in-service and pre-service teachers, and to help educators through specific trainings to be aware of the bias they are unconsciously reinforcing in their students through socialization messages and uneven time and type of attention spent on boys and girls in the classroom.


Kathleen Elliot, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Kathleen will study the relationship between gender, sexuality, and school culture. Her dissertation project, an ethnography of one U.S. high school, examines how diverse students - both boys and girls, queer and heterosexual - construct and negotiate gender and sexual identities in relation to one another and to the school's institutional practices and policies related to gender and sexuality. This project ultimately aims to inform our understanding of how gender and sexual inequalities are created, performed, resisted, and transformed in contemporary U.S. high schools.

Glenda M. Flores, University of Southern California

Glenda’s dissertation focuses on how Latina teachers, the daughters of Latina working-class women, narrate the process of becoming teachers for racial/ethnic minority schools and describes ensuing race relations and interactions with co-teachers, staff, parents and students in their workplaces. She will employ multiple qualitative methods to answer the following research question: How do upwardly mobile Latina teachers navigate racial/ethnic and class boundaries with students, parents, co-teachers and administrators in multiracial schools?

Roxanne Hughes, Florida State University

Women are currently underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. A prominent policy response to this underrepresentation at the college level is women-only STEM living and learning communities. Roxanne’s dissertation focuses on 26 female college seniors who started college as STEM majors, twelve of whom participated in a STEM living and learning program at a Research 1 University. The life histories of each of these women indicate that positive mentoring, research opportunities, and supportive faculty and peers (including women-only STEM living and learning programs) can help to retain women in historically male-dominated fields. However, the research also indicated that the chilly climate still existed for many of these women.

Kristen Molyneaux, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In the east African country of Uganda, the push for free Universal Secondary Education (USE) has become a driving force for educational change at both the national and local levels. While the policy is touted as "pro-poor", teachers, students, and parents are embroiled in constant debates surrounding the purpose of USE, its commitment to educational access and quality, and the controversial facets of this multi-tiered policy. Kristen’s ethnographic study, which is focused on the impact of USE on one peri-urban community, will investigate the various ways in which gender is both sidelined and mobilized by this national policy in order to create differing arguments in "opposition to" and in "support of" Universal Secondary Education. 


Carly Thomsen, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

Carly will develop and implement a program class geared toward informing high school seniors and/or first year college students about Women’s Studies concepts while providing a space from which girls and women can develop the leadership skills necessary to effectively engage in social justice activism. She will provide workshops at both the University of Arizona and the University of California to implement her curriculum.


Ellen-Rae Cachola, University of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

Ellen-Rae will develop an online visual history map that illustrates the history of militarism in the San Francisco Bay Area, and how gender construction Asia-Pacific.


Folasade Scott, Marietta, GA


Elizabeth Domangue, Louisiana State University

Many fitness testing programs, including the President's Physical Fitness program, have yet to be investigated though a critical gender lens. The purpose of Elizabeth’s dissertation  is to investigate motivational and gendered aspects of fitness testing, perhaps providing insights into how fitness testing programs covertly and overtly emphasize gender differences.

Erica Nicole Griffin, Arizona State University

Black Women Who Dropped Out: A Personal Perspective is a study of the lives and experiences of Black women who dropped out of high school and are now living and working in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. Erica Nicole Griffin is collecting life stories from eight women between the ages of 24-60 to help inform policymakers, educators and parents about the factors causing these drop outs, and steps that might be taken to prevent this attrition.

Susan Marine, Boston College

The arrival of transgendered students in women's college is the topic investigated by Susan Marine. In her qualitative study of 31 women's college student affairs administrators, she assessed their perceptions of and experiences with transgender (male and genderqueer) students. Most participants (30) reported enacting behaviors that were supportive of transgender students; a small subset (10) reported acting affirmatively on behalf of transgender students and were classified as advocates. Implications for theory, practice, and policy are described.

Judith Obiero, University of Massachusetts

The study examines the educational experiences of poor ethnic minority girls in Kenya. Kenyan Judith Obiero investigates the challenges facing these excluded girls' participation in education by analyzing the ways in which ethnicity. poverty, and other characteristics influence their educational experiences. The study assesses the gender effectiveness of the Free Primary Education Policy and offers recommendations and strategies for reaching and retaining these girls in school.

Elizabeth O'Callaghan, University of Wisconsin

Elizabeth is pursuing an investigation of the glass ceiling in the higher education workforce. Located at the intersection of feminist theory and quantitative research traditions, this study attempts to define the glass ceiling, quantify its effects, and illuminate the ways in which it serves as a barrier to career success for women.


Ms. Evelyn Nereida Sweeney and Ms. Gail Tyler,
St. Mary's County, Maryland

The Study Circles program will be implemented in two of the county's schools. The program brings parents and teachers from different racial and ethnic backgrounds together to discuss ways of improving the school and helping students. The program provides tools to celebrate diversity and overcome racial or ethnic barriers.


Brittany Bentley, Grand Valley State University


Leah Curran, George Washington University

Leah is conducting a critical feminist discourse analysis of federally funded sex education curricula to examine the ways in which discourses of gender and sexuality operate explicitly and implicitly in U.S. sex education programs.  She is comparing abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education curricula to see how discourses of gender and sexuality operate similarly or differently both within and across the alternative types of sex education.   

Howard Glasser, Michigan State University

Amendments to Title IX permit single-sex classes in public schools and this project focused on two single-sex science classes taught by the same teacher in a public, coeducational middle school. Science was investigated because it serves as a gateway to many professional opportunities, but males tend to outperform females in school science, take more science classes, and are more likely to obtain careers in science. This work explores issues of equity between these courses, the history and rationale for the program, and how the classes impact students' performance in school and their development as men and women.

LingLing Yang, Sam Houston State University

The synergistic leadership theory (SLT) is a socially just and gender inclusive theory that addresses the attributes, experiences, and abilities found in both female and male leaders. The purpose of LingLing’s dissertation research is to use the SLT as the theoretical framework to investigate the applicability of the theory to educational leaders in Chinese and American public universities. LingLing believes the findings of her research will have significance to gender equity and social justice that Myra Sadker has promoted. Her study has the potential to improve leadership practice and programs in both Chinese and American universities by including the female leaders' perspectives and experiences and embracing a broader knowledge base of leadership.


Nicole Vournazos

Nicole is a sophomore at Newtown High School in Connecticut and an active debater. In fact, she was the only female to participate in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates in the state of Connecticut the previous year. She received her award to offset the costs of participating in a series of debates during the coming academic year.