Lola Benfield, a graduate student in Political Science at Appalachian State University from Morganton, North Carolina, has been named the winner of the 2019-2020 Frances Holland Black scholarship. Benfield plans to graduate with an MA in Political Science in December of 2019. Her research interests include gender, politics, and higher education.
The scholarship honors Frances Holland Black (1894-1993), a graduate of Appalachian State University. The scholarship was established by her children and friends as a means of continuing her lifelong efforts to champion equality and freedom for women. Funds from this endowment are used to create opportunities for women students, individually or collectively, to develop feminist perspectives on equality and freedom for all and to create opportunities for their expression.
Benfield’s research focuses upon mentorship of women. She states, “Mentorship has well-documented positive effects on women’s careers. These effects are prominent through industry, politics, and academia. Some questions I hope to answer with this research include: Why do some mentorship relationships flourish and others fail to provide adequate support? How do people select their mentors? How do mentors choose their mentees? While the literature on mentorship is growing, these important questions about mentorship remain unanswered.”
Benfield also notes: “My interest in gender and academia was first piqued when I worked with Dr. Ellen Key on her project (and forthcoming paper), ‘Gendered Research Agendas and Their Implications’ as an undergraduate student at Appalachian. I am excited to continue working alongside Dr. Key to interrogate gender bias and disparity in academia and politics.” The Frances Holland Black Scholarship will be used to assist Benfield in traveling to the American Political Science Association 2019 Annual Meeting, where she will conduct focus groups and interviews with political science graduate students and faculty to interrogate both sides of the mentoring relationship. She hopes to better understand potential explanatory variables as a way to explain the dearth of women’s career advancement in academia.
Appalachian State University’s Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies (GWS) program is an academic program housed in the Department of Cultural, Gender, and Global Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. GWS offers a Appalachian’s Gender, Women’s, And Sexuality Studies program offers a GWS B.A. degree, an undergraduate and graduate GWS minor, an LGBT Studies minor, a Girls’ Studies minor, and a Gender and Women’s Studies graduate certificate. For additional information on these programs go to https://gws.appstate.edu