Rachael Russell successfully defended her dissertation last week!
It will go down in history as one of the most memorable defenses ever. Rachael was not only calm and composed under difficult questioning from her committee, but she managed to stay cool during the FIRE ALARM that erupted in the middle of the defense. I’m not kidding, the whole building was evacuated. But, Rachael wasn’t flustered at all and picked up right where she left off when we returned to the seminar room. That kind of poise definitely scores points during a defense. :)
The dissertation is entitled “Constructing Global Womanhood: WINGOs, Women’s Ministries, and Women’s Empowerment.”
The project builds directly on Nitza Berkovitch’s terrific book “From Motherhood to Citizenship”, which examined the growth of international women’s organizations. Rachael turns to many of the same issues, but with a quantitative lens. She content-coded the aims of women’s INGOs and traces their aims and agendas. Then, she does a standard world society diffusion analysis, showing that WINGOs (as well as other international factors, like ratification of CEDAW) accelerate the formation of national ministries devoted to women and gender issues. Finally, she uses panel data models to show that those same international forces are also associated with improvements in the status of women, as measured by things like labor force participation and participation in higher education. The project thus adds to the growing body of work showing that “world society” is not just associated with policy reform, but also seems to affect tangible outcomes.
Congratulations to Rachael!