Sociology Professor Wins Distinguished Article Award

By Christine Kitano, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing

Dr. Karen Pyke, Associate Professor of Sociology, received the Distinguished Article Award from the American Sociological Association's Sex and Gender Section for "Asian American Women and Racialized Femininities: 'Doing' Gender Across Cultural Worlds." The award honors those who have made a significant contribution to the understanding of gender through an article on the cutting edge of sociological inquiry. Dr. Pyke shares the award with her co-author, Denise Johnson, who was an undergraduate research assistant on the project.

Drawing on 100 intensive interviews with second-generation Korean and Vietnamese American women, Dr. Pyke examined how respondents describe
gender practices and experiences in ethnic and predominately-white social worlds. She finds in the interviews a tendency to exaggerate the gender differences between Asian ethnic and mostly-white social worlds. Respondents often described these two social worlds as completely oppositive. They magnified the male dominance occurring in Asian ethnic settings, regarding experiences of gender egalitarianism as "atypical," while exaggerating gender equity in white-dominated settings by overlooking or minimizing their experiences there with male dominance. These findings highlight how racism in our society can be internalized among members of oppressed groups shaping the way they "see" and understand the world. As Dr. Pyke said, "Believing is seeing."

Dr. Pyke  earned her Ph.D. at UC Irvine where she taught family and gender courses to a predominately Asian American student body.  "It is a privilege to be able to do research that relates directly to the experiences of many of my students," she said. "I am especially gratified that the lives and perspectives of second-generation Asian American women are becoming visible in sociological scholarship. Ten years ago when I was teaching to a majority of students who grew up in Asian immigrant families, I found extremely little in the literature that spoke to their lives. So I especially appreciate the recognition this award gives to the voices of second-generation Korean and Vietnamese Americans and their relevance to sociology.

The award-winning article appeared in "Gender & Society," the top gender journal in sociology, and was reprinted in the anthology "Gender Through the Prism of Difference." The article is part of a larger project examining internalized racial oppression among second generation Korean and Vietnamese Americans. Dr. Pyke is currently working on a book tentatively titled "The Hidden Injuries of Racism" based on her analysis of over 400 interviews.

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