Meet the Fellows: 2018 Women’s Studies Fellow Allegra Midgette
The Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies is the only national dissertation award for doctoral work on women’s and gendered issues. The 2018 Fellows include Allegra Midgette, a Ph.D. candidate in education at the University of California, Berkeley. The award will support Allegra’s final year writing her dissertation, titled Gendered Household Labor Distribution & Morality: Social & Moral Reasoning in Chinese & South Korean Families.
Allegra drew on some of her personal experiences when crafting her dissertation:
The summer in between my sophomore year and my last year of high school was an important transition in my identity as a scholar concerned with gender equality. While I grew up in Brazil, my family had immigrated to the U.S. when I was eleven. When I was fifteen we returned to Brazil for a short visit. During that time, I spent a week with one of my early childhood friends. In principle, we both believed in the equality between men and women. However, when I attended his school with him for a day I was surprised to note the influence that the school’s sexist practices had on him. The P.E. teacher had girls sit during the class while only the boys played soccer on the field for the first 40 minutes of class. Frustrated, I asked to play, and he said that girls could only play in the last 10 minutes. He even scathingly said, “all girls have their menstrual period on Friday’s,” when PE occurred.
I was incensed, and even more indignant when I realized that my friend did not think the situation was unacceptable at all. It became evident to me how deeply ingrained certain beliefs of gender were in the youth around me. In the end, when the girls were allowed to play for the last 10 minutes, the P.E. teacher forced them to play solely with boys who disliked playing and made it so that when girls scored it was 2 points instead of 1. He also made it so that the boys could not touch the ball more than twice before they had to pass, further handicapping the boys to make the game fair in his eyes. This experience spurred me to consider how culture interacts with individuals’ understandings of what is fair and their moral reasoning about gender inequality.