William & Mary

Slevin one of first non-psychologists to win APA award

  • Kathleen Slevin:
    Kathleen Slevin:  The recently retired sociology professor was one of the first non-psychologists to receive the APA's Florence L. Denmark Award for Contributions to Women and Aging.  Courtesy photo
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The American Psychology Association, Division 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women), recently announced that Kathleen Slevin is the 2015 recipient of the Florence L. Denmark Award for Contributions to Women and Aging.

Slevin, who served as vice-provost for academic affairs and chancellor professor of sociology at William & Mary before her retirement in July, joins her co-author, Virginia Tech Professor of Sociology Toni Calasanti, in being the first non-psychologists ever to receive the award.

“My co-author and I were delighted and surprised; as sociologists, we were not familiar with this award,” Slevin said. “We got an email out of the blue from the chair of the selection committee telling us we were nominated, and in June, we heard that we were selected. The chair told us we were the first awardees who were not psychologists.”

According to the award’s website, the annual award is presented in honor of Florence L. Denmark’s work on gender and aging issues in order “to recognize scholarly or public policy accomplishments, or both, in the area of women and aging.”

The award was largely based on two books co-authored by Slevin and Calasanti: Gender, Social Inequalities, and Aging as well as Age Matters: Realigning Feminist Thinking. Both books explore how gender shapes our social world, including our constructions of old age.

“Our main scholarly contributions lie in demonstrating the importance of attending to the voices of old people, both for understanding how gender shapes old age and for understanding how age relations shape gender relations across the life course,” Slevin said.

Gender, Social Inequalities, and Aging was a notable contribution to the field of aging studies because it provided insight into the various ways power-based gender relations intersect with other social inequalities and thus shape diverse aging experiences, Slevin noted. As such, the authors addressed old age as not only a “woman’s issue,” but also as something men and women experience differently but in relation to one another as well as to class, ethnicity and sexuality.

Age Matters, on the other hand, delves into original scholarship by leading feminists scholars of aging. According to Slevin, the co-authors use this book to explore both why age matters and how ageism permeates feminist work and society at large.

For Slevin, this award represents an unexpected capstone to her career: “It is always wonderful to have our scholarship recognized by peers. However, coming as it does at the end of my career, this award is especially meaningful.”