Carolina Women’s Center Announces 2016-2017 Faculty Scholars

March 24, 2016

The Carolina Women’s Center (CWC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is proud to announce its Faculty Scholars for the 2016–2017 academic year. Elizabeth Dickinson, Michelle T. King, Kavita Singh Ongechi and Michele Rivkin-Fish will use their funding to undertake projects that reflect the Center’s mission to further gender equity.

Elizabeth Dickinson’s project, “It’s Everyone’s Business: An Analysis of Gender Diversity and Business Schools,” examines “how gender diversity is conceptualized, discussed and negotiated within U.S. business schools, versus in the arts and sciences, humanities and other professional schools.” Pulling from diverse academic disciplines (e.g., communication, women’s and gender studies, sociology, business, critical/cultural studies), the project focuses on “comprehending fully the complex cultural issues that influence gender and communication in business schools, and the possible impacts on people, organizations and work.” Dickinson also researches the larger implications for academia, workplaces and the public in the context of increasing pressures on institutions of higher education to run more like private corporations. The project also explores ways to incorporate transformative modes of equity education and training into business schools to expand conversations about inclusivity. Dickinson is a clinical assistant professor of communication in the Kenan-Flagler Business School.

For “The Pei Mei Project: History, Gender and Memory Through the Pages of a Chinese Cookbook,” Michelle T. King investigates “Fu Pei-mei’s life and career as the doyenne of Chinese cooking as a window into three key issues in postwar society in Taiwan, including the development of foodways as a critical national political project, shifting gender roles and transnational constructions of Chinese/Taiwanese identity through successive generations.” Fu’s culinary lessons and other memories of food, eating and cooking seem to mediate “inter-generational, transnational connections” between the middle-class women who remained in Taiwan and who emigrated for their education. The project envisions a bilingual English-Chinese educational website that will also “build an international, intergenerational, virtual community of interested Pei-mei fans, foodies and Chinese diasporas.” King is an associate professor of history. Due to other professional commitments, she will serve as a Faculty Scholar in 2017-2018.

Kavita Singh Ongechi explores the disparate impact of stigma on survivors of the west African Ebola outbreak. “Understanding the Impact of Stigma on Female Survivors of Ebola” focuses on the ways in which women “disproportionately experience many the social and economic consequences of Ebola survivorship,” including rejection by families and spouses, loss of livelihood and isolation from social networks and employers. Focusing on “social and sexual relationships, as well as stigma,” this project is especially crucial in light of the new, sudden and concentrated population of Ebola survivors following the wide-spread outbreak. Ongechi is a research associate professor in the Gillings School of Public Health and a faculty fellow at the Carolina Population Center.  Her doctoral advisee, Christine Godwin, will use this project as part of her dissertation.

“Unmaking Russia’s Abortion Culture: Family Planning, Family Values and the Search for a Liberal Biopolitics” explores Russians’ emerging attitudes towards abortion in light of its history under the Soviet state. Caught between pronatalist sentiment and policies and the material realities of “inadequate contraceptive supplies [and] severely cramped housing,” Soviet Russians had access to abortion but—contrary to Western rights-based discourse and values of “choice”—“described it as symbolizing deficits and deprivation.” In this context, Michele Rivkin-Fish “examines the rhetorical strategies used from the late 1960s to the present to legitimize contraceptive use amidst ardent pronatalism.” Her book traces the emergence and transformation of Russia’s family planning movement, the efforts of demographic and medical experts and incipient feminist politics to replace abortion practices with contraceptive use while maintaining legal abortion access.” Rivkin-Fish is an associate professor of anthropology.

Previous Carolina Women’s Center Faculty Scholars include Jocelyn Chua (Anthropology), Tanya Shields (Women’s and Gender Studies), Kumi Silva (Communication), Joanne Hershfield (Women’s and Gender Studies), Mary H. Palmer (School of Nursing), Susan Harbage Page (Women’s and Gender Studies), Nadia Yaqub (Asian Studies), Emily Burrill (Women’s and Gender Studies), Minrose Gwin (English and Comparative Literature), Miriam Labbok (School of Public Health), Sahar Amer (Asian Studies), Mimi Chapman (School of Social Work), Rebecca Macy (School of Social Work), Pika Ghosh (Art), Jeanne Moskal (English and Comparative Literature), Kia Caldwell (African and Afro-American Studies), Ming Lin (Computer Science), Francesca Talenti (Communication Studies), Kimberly Brownley (Psychiatry) and Maxine Eichner (School of Law). Diane Kjervik (School of Nursing) held the first CWC faculty scholar position.

The Faculty Scholars program is funded through the Office of the Provost. This year, the Faculty Scholars Selection Committee was comprised of Mary H. Palmer (School of Nursing), Susan Harbage Page (Women’s and Gender Studies) and Clare Counihan (Carolina Women’s Center).

The Carolina Women’s Center pursues gender equity at UNC. Through education, advocacy and interdisciplinary research, the CWC builds bridges and enhances the intellectual life and public engagement mission of the university. To learn more about the Center and its mission, please visit