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Margaret Andersen Award Statement

Margaret Andersen, Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at University of Delaware, is the 2006 recipient of ASA’s Jessie Bernard Career Award. As a major figure in the sociology of gender, her commitment to excellence in scholarship, teaching, and professional service has touched countless scholars, students, and administrators.

Professor Andersen is clearly a penultimate gender scholar. She has consistently pushed the frontiers of gender scholarship throughout her career. Her early work illustrates this commitment to gender with publications including “Affluence, Contentment and Resistance to Feminism: The Case of the Corporate Gypsies” in Social Problems and Social Policy (1979); “Rape Crisis Counseling and the Culture of Individualism” with Claire Renzetti in Contemporary Crisis (1980); and Corporate Wives: Longing for Liberation or Satisfied with the Status Quo?” in Urban Life (1981). This work preceded her immensely influential Thinking About Women: Sociological Perspectives on Sex and Gender, which was first published in 1983. Used consistently in college classrooms for over twenty years and now in its seventh edition (2006), this book has had a significant impact on gender teaching and scholarship.

Professor Andersen has not only been involved in gender scholarship, she has also been at the forefront of cutting edge ideas within it. In particular, she was one of the early gender scholars to recognize that gender did not constitute a stand-alone concept, but rather intersected with race, class, sexuality and ethnicity. She writes about this path and how it framed her distinctive approach to gender scholarship in her 2005 Gender & Society essay, “Thinking about Women: A Quarter Century View.” Here Andersen spells out a retrospective of her work in gender, noting how personal experience informs critical analysis. In this retrospective, one sees how her early commitment to viewing gender through the prism of race and class greatly has contributed to the innovation in her work.

Professor Andersen’s sociological publications can thus be read as a systematic engagement of gender with ideas about race and class. Publications such as “Women’s Studies/Black Studies: Learning From Our Common Pasts” (1985); “Moving Our Minds: Studying Women of Color and Reconstructing Sociology” (1988); “Studying Across Difference: Race, Class, Gender & the Social Construction of Knowledge” (1993); and “The Fiction of Diversity without Oppression: Race, Ethnicity, Identity, and Power” (1999) illustrate her longstanding commitment to what is now known as the field of race, class and gender studies.

Professor Andersen’s productivity in race, class and gender studies goes beyond a commitment to scholarship – she has also worked to change social institutions. This dedication to gender equity is most evident both in her long and distinguished teaching career and the range of activities in which she has been involved concerning the advancement of teaching. Much of her early work in gender reflects this commitment to teaching. For example, her 1987 “Changing the Curriculum: Women’s Studies and Higher Education” published in Signs investigates issues of gender and curriculum transformation. Andersen’s innovative gender scholarship and her commitment to social change through teaching are apparent in several projects including “Integrating Race, Class and Gender to the Curriculum in Sociology,” published by ASA’s Teaching Resources Center and Race, Class and Gender: An Anthology (1992), currently in its fifth edition (both in collaboration with Patricia Hill Collins).

Finally, an important area of consideration for the Jessie Bernard Career Award is the nominee’s promotion of feminism in the American Sociological Association and other learned societies. Over the course of her long career, Margaret Andersen has been a strong promoter of women’s interests. She was editor of Gender & Society from 1990 through 1995, where she did a superb job of bringing more work on race and class into gender scholarship. In 1984, she was the first person to teach Women’s Studies at MIT. Twenty years later, in 2004, she was honored as the SWS Feminist Lecturer. She has held a remarkable range of service and leadership positions – from serving as one of the founders of ASA’s MOST program and co-directing that program at the University of Delaware for two years to serving on the ASA Council. She has served as President of the Eastern Sociological Society. In each of these positions, Andersen was active in facilitating feminist work.

Not only does Professor Andersen have tremendous feminist vitality, she also has enormous integrity and a commitment to supporting other women at both faculty and student levels. She is a model for current and future gender scholars.