(January 16, 2013)

Alumna's undergraduate research awarded Best Paper

SHREVEPORT, LA — The Mid-South Sociological Society has awarded Centenary alumna Mary Wygle '12 the 2012 Best Paper Award for undergraduates. The paper was an accumulation of research Wygle completed for her senior seminar project at Centenary.

Mary Wygle
Mary Wygle '12

"Some students are hesitant to say what they think because they fear being wrong—Mary never had this fear," said Dr. Michelle Wolkomir, Centenary Associate Professor of Sociology and Wygle's faculty sponsor. "She discussed what she believed about a sociological issue forcefully, but she always had the courage to change her mind if the data and logic required it."

Her work, "Sex Toys, Child-Raisers, and Home-Makers: Hegemonic Gender Norms and College Women's Sexual Experiences," focused on how college women experience their sexuality in connection with current hegemonic gender norms. More specifically, how political, religious, and sexual orientation influence college women's experiences. Wygle found that women's understanding of gender influences the sexual framework they follow and the sexual encounters they experience:

"For example, I interviewed lesbian women who felt they rejected many feminine gender norms, which include a lack of sexual desire. Because they form oppositional identities to the norm and do not adhere to dominant female scripts, they also show a sexual freedom not experienced by the other women I interviewed."

Wygle graduated from Centenary with a double major in Psychology and Sociology. She currently works as a data analyst and is applying to graduate programs in development studies in the United States as well as overseas. Wygle notes that Centenary professors have acted as motivators as she moves forward:

"I would not have gotten this far without the support from my Centenary professors, and they are still what keep me going as I pursue further studies. Words cannot describe how amazing they are, but I will simply state that they are excellent examples of the type of person I am striving to become."

The Mid-South Sociological Association promotes the study and understanding of sociological issues and problems.