Connie Zirkle of Proctorville, Ohio has been named a student affiliate of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia. Ms. Zirkle earned her R.B.A. from Marshall University and is working toward her M.A. in sociology also at Marshall University. She is currently the administrative secretary senior of Marshall’s psychology department.
Images of Appalachian Women on the Internet is the title of Ms. Zirkle’s project. Her hypothesis is that even though the Internet is a technologically advanced medium, the “status quo” images and stereotypes of Appalachian women (examples – Daisy Mae and Ma Kettle) will be continued as sites about Appalachia are created. Using a randomly selected sample of Internet sites obtained through searches using words such as “Appalachian women”, “Appalachian woman”, and “hillbilly”, Ms. Zirkle will analyze the images and text of these sites to determine if the site presents a positive Appalachian image, a stereotypical image, or a neutral image; if the site provides education about stereotypes, endorses stereotypes, or gives no indication of stereotypes; if the site is male or female oriented; and if the site promotes positive Appalachian values such as a sense of place and family values (kin relationships).
Ms. Zirkle has participated in several conferences including the 1999 Appalachian Studies Association Annual Conference, the 1997 West Virginia Sociological Conference, and the 1997 Association for Humanist Sociology Annual Conference.