College of Human Sciences

Influential researcher builds on the body of knowledge

A woman of stature with a strong interest in, among others, intersection of gender and social justice, Unisa’s Professor Puleng Segalo has moved from a Y-rating to a C2-rating by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

Prof Puleng Segalo of CHS: Unisa has been re-rated as a C2 researcher by the NRF

Segalo, a psychology professor in the College of Human Sciences at Unisa was rated on research work that focuses on African psychology, culture, decolonisation and gender. Speaking about her re-rating, she says: “I was considered as an established researcher with a good track record of quality outputs.” She adds: “I was acknowledged to have produced a sustained quantity of output in outlets of good standing and repute.”

Segalo’s innovative visual methodology in the form of embroidery, that she uses in her research was commended by reviewers both locally and internationally. Some of the reviewers commented: “As a feminised activity, embroidery offers a specific avenue for the exploration of conscious and unconscious stories of women’s lives, especially in spaces where, traditionally or politically, women’s voices have been muted or silenced”.

Building on the body of knowledge, Segalo has produced thus far, work that continues to look at conceptual, epistemological and theoretical lenses that allow for a historical excavation of grappling with issues that plague the society. She explains: “My interest remains in the intersection of gender, education, psychological well-being and social justice. To this end, I draw from a decolonial perspective more broadly, and decolonial feminism in particular.” She adds: “I hope to contribute to the archive of African women’s lives, their experiences, desires, resilience, resistance and the role they continue to play in the building of many African nations.”

Segalo reiterates that she is interested in engaging the unequal opportunities that women have had over time. “This is directly linked to the spaces they occupy in both the private and public spheres,” she says. “I continue to use visual methodologies and approaches (in the form of embroideries) as sources of knowledge and how these draw from skills that communities already have.”

For Segalo, the C2 re-rating affords her confirmation of the importance of the work that she does, but also, offers insights on how the work could continue being strengthened and further contribute towards the ways that they, as researchers, do or theorise their work and the methods they use. She remarks: “Advancing to a C2 rating speaks to the progress that I have made in my research journey, my contribution towards capacity building through mentorship and supervision, and the impact of the body of work that I have produced.”

With intense thrill of excitement, Segalo says: “The re-rating is a mirror that reflects to me and allows me the opportunity to pause and think deeply about the work I do, and how it contributes towards my discipline and other related disciplines that I borrow from such as gender studies and visual arts.”  

Highlighting the importance of relevant and up-to-date research in academe, she says: “We continue to be confronted by numerous challenges as a society, therefore, conducting research that is relevant and speaks or seeks to respond to societal issues, is critical. She adds: “Up-to-date research feeds into what we teach, ensuring that we offer the kind of education that seeks to ensure social justice and dignity for all.”

Segalo advises aspiring researchers to:

  • Know what drives them, find their passion and pursue it.
  • Not allow themselves to be filled with noise that may derail them from doing work that is meaningful to them and the society.
  • Prioritise their goals and remain focused.
  • Have a research focus area or niche that will enable them to focus and excel in their chosen field.

“Seek mentors, network and collaborate as much as possible,” she concludes.

*Nancy Legodi, Acting Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2021/04/28

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