Allison recognized with regional award for innovative gender research

Rachel Allison

A faculty member in Mississippi State University’s Department of Sociology is being honored with a prestigious award from the preeminent academic organization for research and teaching on gender.

Assistant Professor Rachel Allison is receiving an Early Career Gender Scholar Award by Sociologists for Women in Society-South. The award is presented to a junior researcher who has authored groundbreaking work advancing the scholarship of gender and has received a Ph.D. within the last six years.

Allison’s award includes a one-year membership in SWS-South. She also will be featured in the SWS-South newsletter and will present her work at a special SWS-South session during the organization’s annual meeting.

For award consideration, Allison submitted a copy of her book manuscript “Kicking Center: Gender and the Selling of Women’s Professional Soccer,” due for publication with Rutgers University Press in August. The book examines the challenges women’s soccer faces in the male-dominated world of professional sports and shows how those working with and for the sport address these challenges in selling and marketing their league.

SWS is a “feminist sociological organization concerned with understanding and alleviating gender inequality in society,” Allison said.

“Given [SWS’s] focus on social change, I also used my application to describe how I communicate my research to a public audience,” Allison said, citing her book manuscript, 12 articles, two book chapters and a journal introduction she edited as evidence of her contributions to the sociology of gender.

Allison, who holds sociology master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago, also submitted her blog posts and interviews with mainstream media outlets on both women’s soccer and college students’ participation in the “hook up” culture.

Allison said the award is an “important recognition” of her publications and research. Being a part of SWS-South for the past couple of years has helped her network, share research ideas and receive feedback from faculty and gender scholars around the country.

“(MSU Associate Professor) Dr. Kimberly Kelly, in particular, has read drafts of my papers, given me excellent advice as I move forward in my career, and supported my teaching in gender and social theory. I feel confident that I can bring questions to any of the senior faculty I work with and will receive excellent advice and strong support,” said Allison, who also holds a bachelor’s in sociology and French from Grinnell College in her native Iowa.

Leslie Hossfeld, professor and head of MSU’s Department of Sociology, praised Allison’s work as being “clearly cutting-edge.”

“Dr. Allison is a dynamic scholar and prolific researcher who has gained a national reputation as an expert in the area of sociology of sport, particularly in the area of gender and women’s soccer,” Hossfeld said.

Hossfeld added that Allison’s research portfolio on gender inequality in sport has received “widespread attention in well-respected outlets in our discipline, and her niche research expertise has brought international recognition as the leading expert in this arena.

“Dr. Allison is the epitome of a highly productive, high quality, rigorous research professor at MSU,” Hossfeld said. “She maintains an active research agenda with noteworthy visibility that reflects positively on our department, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the university at large. All of her work brings visibility to her prominence as a researcher.”

Founded in the late 1970s, Sociologists for Women in Society is an international organization of social scientists. Members include undergraduate and graduate students, university and college faculty, researchers in business and government, freelance writers and journalists.

SWS-South is a regional organization working in conjunction with SWS. Membership is comprised of scholars from universities and institutions in the South who are actively engaged in studying and teaching about the issues that affect women. For more, visit

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,200 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. Complete details about the College of Arts and Sciences or Department of Sociology may be found at or

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Sarah Nicholas | College of Arts & Sciences

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