POWS Student Prize 2014

The POWS Undergraduate Student Prize

To be awarded for a 3,000 word article. The article must be clearly related to the work carried out as part of an undergraduate degree, and make an original contribution to the Psychology of Women. Individual entries and group submissions are both welcomed, but must not have been published previously.

The POWS Postgraduate Student Prize

To be awarded for a 3,500 word article. The article must be clearly related to the work carried out as part of a postgraduate degree, and make an original contribution to the Psychology of Women. Individual entries and group submissions are both welcomed, but must not have been published previously.

Both awards include prizes of:

One year subscription to POWS Review

One year subscription to Feminism & Psychology

The opportunity to present your paper at the 2014 POWS Conference (9th – 11th July, 2014), where the Student Prizes will be awarded (POWS will reimburse your registration and travel expenses within the UK, up to the amount of £350). The postgraduate winner will be able to present their paper orally on 9th July (tbc), and the undergraduate winner will be able to present a poster of their paper on 10th July (tbc).

Publication of your submission in the POWS Review (subject to the normal peer-review process)

Who is eligible?

Current undergraduate and postgraduate students and those who have submitted their dissertation or thesis within the last academic year (2012-13). Submissions are welcomed from students researching all areas of Psychology, Health and Social Sciences.

How to enter

Submit a short abstract (max. 500 words) of your article by 7th March 2014. If your abstract is shortlisted, you will be asked to submit the full article at a later date. All abstracts and completed articles will be reviewed by members of POWS with relevant knowledge and expertise. Submissions should be emailed as attached Word documents to Paula P.Singleton@leedsmet.ac.uk  Please include the subject line POWS Prize Submission. If you have any questions about the POWS Prize, please contact Paula Singleton for further information.

Previous Winning Abstracts


Finding a Home in the Public Sphere, Challenging the Social Representations of Politics: A Case Study of McGill University’s Women in House Programme, 2001-2005

C. Nguyen, London School of Economic and Political Science

This paper examines young Canadian women’s conceptions of political power through qualitative interviews with participants of the McGill University’s Women in House Programme, 2001-2005, which documented the women’s firsthand experiences of shadowing women parliamentarians. I examine the female students’ social representations of political power within the Parliamentary process, and notably, how their internalization of the influence that gender plays in shaping their own interest in engaging in formal politics. In spite of high levels of political knowledge and direct exposure to the political system, these young women continue to accept the dominant political and social discourses that portray them as excluded from the public sphere on the grounds of their gender, age, and in some instances, ethnicity and social class. I also explore how young women conceptualize and understand the social networks, and forms of capital and resources which are associated with access to the elite political community.

Drawing on Nancy Fraser’s theory of subaltern counterpublics, I argue that young women are in need of women-only spaces such as the Women in House programme in order to develop the sites of dialogue and deliberation needed to create counter-discourses that will enable them to challenge the discursive representations of social power within contemporary Canadian political processes. This paper draws on social psychological approaches and makes an important empirical contribution to the political science literature about the engagement and public participation of an underrepresented political group.


Moving Past Powerlessness? An Exploration of the Heterosexualisation of Sexual Harassment

L. Lazard, University of Northampton

In exploring the discursive constitution of sexual harassment in academic and participant accounts in my PhD research, the construction of victimhood has been a key concern. The accordance of victim status to recipients of sexual violence has been viewed as critical in challenging normalising constructions of sexual violence as ‘just sex’ (e.g. Burt and Estep, 1981). The legitimisation of victim positionings for recipients of sexual coercion has been treated as particularly important for women since dominant representations of sexual violence position women as the victims and men as perpetrators (Brewis and Linstead, 2001). While this gendered construction of victim-perpetrator relations is crucial in raising awareness of male victimisation of women, the presentation of victimhood as a tool for resisting sexual violence has been questioned. For example, representations of women as victims reproduce versions of femininities that posit women as powerless/passive which works to re-inscribe male dominance and female subordination.

Using interviews on the topic of sexual harassment conducted as part of my PhD project, this paper explores how heterosexualised gendered relations become interwoven in constructions of victim and perpetrator. 18 semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants who were recruited via strategic sampling. Foucauldian discourse analysis of this data highlighted how women victims/male perpetrators, women offenders/male victims, and same-sex victims/perpetrators become constructed through a heterosexualised gaze. Constructions of victim-perpetrator relations in both heterosexual and same-sex sexual harassment (re)produce versions of heterosexualised femininities as passive/powerless and heterosexualised masculinities as active/powerful. This paper explores the following question raised by these constructions: how can the construct of the victim status of women be legitimised whilst moving past powerlessness?


From Post-Feminism to ‘Dildocracy’: Sex Industries and Happy Woman’s Biopolitics

P.Pinto, University of Minho, Portugal

Standing on a feminist and queer theoretical framework, this paper draws attention to the fresh “pinking” of sex industries by the Portuguese media and its reproduction of a post-feminist ideology of women’s sexual empowerment, conveyed by heteronormative discourses of bodily self-surveillance and consumerism. With the embracing of neo-liberal market values over the last years, the re-sexualisation of “femininity” has become an increasingly dominant expression in the Portuguese mainstream culture. However, the democratization of sexual discourse is still an on-going process in this country, owing to a very long dictatorial regime (1926-1974), held by an ultra-conservative mentality and a system of strict censorship. Although women’s representations as heterosexual desiring subjects have proliferated throughout the whole media spectrum, the first evidences of the sex industries’ “feminization” emerged only very recently within the Portuguese mainstream imagery. Happy Woman – the Portuguese best-selling women’s magazine – is on the frontline of this late paradigm shift by openly bringing the contemporary lexicons of erotica fiction and striptease culture into its pages. Based on my current research on the emergence of sex markets in Portugal and the arising of a techno-capitalist discourse, my concern in this article is to discuss how Portuguese women are being discursively introduced to an apparatus of scripts regarding sex toys, pharmacological products and sex work. In particular, approaching the analysis in a poststructuralist vein, I aim to deconstruct the representational politics of women’s bodies and desire in Happy Woman’s textual contents dedicated to the new trends of sex industries.


“”I don’t feel like I’m in an abusive relationship “: How women’s naming of their partner’s abusive behaviours may be affected by social interactions and personalisation versus abstraction”

C.Rivas, Queen Mary, University of London

There is consensus that partner abuse (domestic violence) has significant physical and mental health consequences, but less agreement on its conceptualisation, with varied definitions published by organizations and from surveys. This problematises research and responses of professionals in contact with the abused. Qualitative studies focusing on how the abused themselves define their experiences are lacking, although there is evidence their representations of their experiences are personal and may differ from the perceptions of other abused and non-abused individuals. This paper explores differences in defining and naming abuse, comparing a sample of women’s descriptions and namings of their abusive experiences with their abstract conceptualisations of abuse when asked to define it, and with published definitions. The data come from interviews with 20 Caribbean, African and white British women recruited in community contexts, all currently experiencing psychological partner abuse; not all had sought help with, or acknowledged, the abuse. These women shared a common understanding of partner abuse as an abstract concept that coincided with the Women’s Aid definition, emphasising intent of the abuser. But in describing their own experiences they focused on the impact of their partner’s abuse which they framed as non-abusive and socially acceptable, although not desirable, despite evidently understanding the concept of abuse as unacceptable behaviour. Findings should help professionals understand how abused women’s descriptions of their experiences are affected by their wider social interactions and the professional setting, and why education around partner abuse should be backed up by professional flexibility in naming and supporting individual experiences.