Meet the Researcher- Liv Parkinson

Liv Parkinson is a Junior Exchange Student here at the University of Central Oklahoma with Dr. Patricia Loughlin as her faculty advisor. She took Dr. Loughlin’s “History of Women in the American West” class during her first semester at UCO. The long running project for this was in collaboration with the National Cowboy and Heritage Museum, helping research the roles of women in the American West to inform their exhibitions in celebration of the centenary of women’s right to vote. The museum’s rodeo exhibit sparked her interest as it made reference to Bonnie McCarroll as a competitor and many other women as Rodeo Queens, but not much information on how and why this shift happened.

Parkinson was invited to NCUR 2020 to present her research, “Spoiler Alert: It’s Men” A Thesis on the True Cause of Female Exclusion From Competitive Rodeo Bronc Riding. Parkinson writes, “In this field, it is regularly claimed that the tragic and graphic death of Bonnie McCarroll in 1929 was the reason women stopped competing as rodeo bronc riders. However, when we look at the numbers of women reporting winnings from participation in such events we see that the major fall in female participation doesn’t come until 13 years later in 1942, the same year Gene Autry’s World Championship Rodeo Company amassed its monopoly.” This research considers this coincidence and other social and political influences to try and properly represent the reasons for the exclusion of women from this sport before closing with a look at the women who are breaking back into it now.