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26th Annual All-University Conference for the Advancement of Women in Higher Education
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Conference Award for Best Paper

Sarah Myers, PhD. Candidate, Department of History

Title: A Gendered Disruption: The Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II

Abstract: During World War II, the United States Air Force admitted women pilots for the first time into a program called the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). These women pilots faced gendered discrimination and reactions from Army Air Force men and American society. Many assumed women were physically, emotionally, and intellectually inferior to male pilots. Furthermore, the WASP program disrupted the elitist, masculine image that existed among Army Air Force (AAF) pilots. As a result, male AAF pilots and personnel undermined the women's AAF roles and emphasized gendered assumptions about the WASP, instead of acknowledging their actual abilities. The WASP program concluded in 1944 and women were not admitted into the Air Force again until the 1970's.

The AAF maintained a sexual division of labor within the WASP program, analyzing the enforcement of additional rules on the women pilots and the rationale behind job assignments. A study of the dynamics between male and femail AAF personnel illuminates gendered assumptions about women pilots' capabilities. Excluding combat, the WASP performed the same training and tasks as men, with equivalent skill, but failed to receive military status. During the war, male interests dictated the course of the WASP program through the sexual division of labor, lines of authority drawn between Army Air Force men and women, and outcome of the WASP program. Through their choice to remain silent during the debate for WASP militarization, men showed their unpreparedness and unwillingness to incorporate the women pilots into the Army Air Force on a permanent basis.


Skyler McLaurin, Undergraduate, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Title: Gender Differences in the Relation between Mother-Child Book Reading Interactions and Children's Behavioral Problems

Abstract: For many preschool aged children, story time with a parent is a daily task. The present study investigates the activity of mother-child joint book reading in order to understand its relationship with the emotional and behavioral development of children. Seventy preschool-aged children (29-59 months) were filmed with their mothers while reading a children's book. Subsequently, their mothers completed Achenbach's Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), measuring a variety of child emotional and behavioral problems. Mothers were coded as making "child-centered" versus "mother-centered" comments. Mothers reading with their girls uttered more "mother-centered" comments compared with mothers of boys. The pattern of relations between these comments and child problems varied across genders. The proportion of "child-centered" comments related to fewer reports of withdrawal in boys. The proportion of "mother-centerd" comments related to fewer reports of both internalizing and externalizing behaviors in girls. The pattern of results may reflect larger societal norms of socializing interdependence in girls and independence in boys. When talking to their girls, mothers seem to feel the need to focus on themselves, in effect, building a sense of interdependence in their daughters. These results suggest that boys and girls are responsive to maternal socialization tactics as evidenced by the lesser incidence of behavioral problems.



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