Carol Mershon’s Global Service for ♀ in Academia
Carol Mershon will be presenting her work Advancing Women’s Research in Higher Education at an “all school” lecture at University of Venda in South Africa on June 15th, 2016. As part of the four day retreat, she will co-lead discussions on publication and research strategies to equalize women’s research in academia. This event immediately follows her adventures in Finland, 9,000 miles (14,000 km) away. Mershon twice previously spoke at Venda and views her visit as part of her professional commitment to service. The University of Virginia encourages service as an integral part of a professor’s work; at UVA Mershon is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion in the Department of Politics, incorporates service into the UVA CHARGE initiative—an NSF ADVANCE program, consulting for Journal of Politics Task Force on Gender, as a presenter at Women in Academia, and with Denise Walsh as co-Primary Investigator of the NSF-funded Gendering Political Science, among others. She says her program in South Africa is designed to “turn political science in on itself.” To illustrate her method she interlocks her ten fingers and reverses her hands in a gesture to reveal wiggling fingers, a gesture familiar as “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the doors and there’s the people.” Using the tools and data methods available to political scientists, she will engage participants to reform limits and predjudice in the discipline by using good data and clear methods. She indicates her strategy blurs the line between service and research. She is using it to reform curricula, is teaching it to her Graduate Research Assistants, and of course will be sharing it at the University of Venda.