April 14, 2011

Sarah Shaffer ’11 Wins Outstanding Achievement Award at Women’s Studies Conference

Sarah Shaffer ’11

American studies major Sarah Shaffer ’11 (Annandale, N.J.) has received an Outstanding Achievement Award for her research presentation at the 17th annual Undergraduate Conference in Women’s Studies held by the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges.  Shaffer was one of nine students who presented at the conference at Cedar Crest College in Allentown.

Shaffer’s honors thesis explores the genre of self-help business books for women and how the stereotypes presented in this genre actually help to reinforce traditional gendered business norms. She also presented her work at the 81st annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society.

She explains, “As an aspiring entrepreneur, I was interested in female entrepreneurs and women in the workplace.  These books are designed to ‘level the playing field’ for women in a society where men dominate in business.  However, the books designed to help women are actually reinforcing the beliefs traditionally upheld in society about gender, sex, and the workplace.”

This research pulls together a number of interests for Shaffer.  It is a combination of American studies, anthropology and sociology, and women’s and gender studies.

“This broad-based background made it possible for me to explore different ways of thinking and problem solving. This assisted in the writing of my thesis because I was able to explore my topic from a variety of perspectives,” she explains.

For the research, Shaffer worked with Caroline Lee, assistant professor of anthropology and sociology.  She took several classes with Lee and then worked with her as an EXCEL Scholar, before asking her to advise her thesis project.

“I’ve known Professor Lee for most of my Lafayette career and she has been a major player in the experiences I’ve had at Lafayette,” says Shaffer. “She is extremely knowledgeable and readily available to her students and the Lafayette community.”

Other students who presented at the conference were:

Government and law major Lauren White ’13 (Lafayette, Calif.) presented the film Teen Moms: Telling Like It Is, which she made with other students in the Single Motherhood course taught by Debbie Byrd, associate professor of English.

English major Jen Brady ’11 (Freehold, N.J.) presented research she performed with Byrd, “A Feminist Reading of Independent Young Women in Dubliners.”

International affairs major Melanie Schor ’11 (Westfield, N.J.) presented “Louise Labé’s Perspective on Love, Relationships and Males,” which she worked on with Olga Anna Duhl, professor of foreign languages and literatures.

Alexandra von Arx ’13 (Little Silver, N.J.), an English major, worked with Duhl and presented “The Intricate Powers of the Feminine and Love: The Writings of Louise Labé.”

English major Megan Feeney ’12 (Webster, N.Y.) worked with Duhl on the paper “Love and Early Feminism in Louise Labé’s Oeuvre poétiques.”

Biology major Clarissa Brown ’12 (Lewisburg, Pa.) presented her paper “Women’s Workforce Dedication.” Her research adviser was Susan Averett, Dana Professor of Economics.

International affairs major Kelsey Harkness ’11 (Wilton, Conn.) presented her film Silent Screams on global human rights. Her adviser was Angelika von Wahl, visiting associate professor of government and law.

Philosophy major Angela Urbano ’11 (Bethlehem, Pa.) presented her honors thesis “The Force of Pornography.” Her thesis adviser was Megan Masto, assistant professor of philosophy.

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