Pembroke Center
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Ruth Simmons Prize in Gender and Women's Studies

Funding Opportunities

The Pembroke Center is pleased and honored to offer the Ruth Simmons Prize in Gender and Women’s Studies. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding honors thesis on questions having to do with women or gender. In the spring, the Pembroke Center invites faculty in all fields to nominate honors theses for the prize. A committee of faculty who teach and write in the area of gender studies will make the selection.

If you wish to make a nomination, please email the following to by 1:00 pm on the current nomination deadline date:

  • Thesis advisor’s evaluation
  • Copy of the thesis

The Ruth Simmons Prize carries with it an award of $1,000.

2022 Recipient

Jamila BeesleyJamila Beesley ’22
American Studies, International and Public Affairs

Jamila Beesley ’22 was awarded the Ruth Simmons Prize in Gender and Women’s Studies for her thesis, “The Architects of the Solutions They Need: Dalit Feminism in the U.S. Caste Abolition Movement.” Beesley’s thesis traces dynamic histories of caste supremacy in the South Asian American diaspora and celebrates the growth of Dalit feminist-led organizing against brahmanical patriarchy. Using a variety of primary media sources, Beesley narrates seemingly disparate stories of immigration, labor exploitation, sensationalized journalism, vigilante rescue, white feminism, and powerful South Asian feminist resistance to contextualize the nascent Dalit civil rights movement in the United States. Her thesis uplifts the vibrant work of Dalit feminist activists and young anti-caste organizers advocating for protections against caste discrimination in civil rights policies.

2022 Honorable Mention

Lillian PickettLillian Pickett ’22
American Studies

Lillian Pickett ’22 was granted honorable mention for the Ruth Simmons Prize in Gender and Women’s Studies for her thesis, “(En)gendering Violence, Imaging Safety: Carceral Politics in Rhode Island’s Feminist Movement, 1970-2009.” In her research, Pickett aimed to understand the evolution of carceral feminist logics on the criminal legal system in Rhode Island. Bringing together research in the Pembroke Center Archives, interviews, and feminist theory and grounded in current day anti-carceral and abolitionist movement organizing, Pickett’s thesis retells the history of second wave feminism in Rhode Island. Her thesis aims to have an impact on how we understand the intersections of feminism and abolition in the Rhode Island context.

Past Recipients

  • 2021 - Lyle Cherneff, Gender and Sexuality Studies
    "The Ties That Bind: Incest and Family-Making in the Postbellum South"
  • 2021 Honorable Mention - Gemma Sack, History
    "Selling Mrs. Procreator: Eugenics, Homemaking, and American Nationalism in Women's Magazines, 1929-1939"
  • 2021 Honorable Mention - Cal Turner, Comparative Literature
    "The Virtue of the Virago: Gender-Crossing Difference and the Social Life of the Early Modern Female Crossdresser"
  • 2020 - Sebastián Niculescu, Ethnic Studies
    "Ábreme: Performing Trans of Color Critique"
  • 2019 - Alex Burnett, History
    "Fighting Homophobia During the War on Crime: The Rise of Pro-Gay, Pro-Police Liberalism, 1967-80"
  • 2018 - Deborah Pomeranz, Ethnic Studies
    "Policing the City: How Discourses of Public Safety Reshaped New York"
  • 2017 - Rebecca Hansen, English, Nonfiction Writing
    "On Coming Forward"
  • 2016 - Melanie Abeygunawardana, English and Literary Arts
    "The Persistent Dialogue: Butch-Femme Erotics as Queer Reading"
  • 2015 - Leila Blatt, Africana Studies
    "From the Shadows of Choice: Activism, Power, and Black Women’s Struggle for Reproductive Justice"
  • 2014 - Charlotte Lindemann, English
    "Visions in Vertigo and The Turn of the Screw: A 'reading-adventure'"
  • 2013 - Emma Janaskie, Modern Culture & Media
    "The Constant State of Desire: Thinking the Sexual Specificity of the Abjected/Fluid Female Body with Kristeva and Irigaray"
  • 2012 - Natalia Fadul, Comparative Literature
    "The Female Mind and Absent Body: Writing Female Subjectivity"
  • 2011 - Nandini Jayakrishna, International Relations
    "A Critical Convergence: Gender Development Theory and the Practice of Women’s Empowerment in the Indian Informal Sector"
  • 2009 - Soyoung Park, Sociology
    "Silenced Pain: The Korean Comfort Women’s Struggle to Matter"
  • 2008 - Sara Tabak Damiano, History
    "From the Shadows of the Bar: Law and Women’s Legal Literacy in Eighteenth-Century Newport"