Melville was active and a leader in many areas of women's higher education, including the presidency of the British Federation of University Women in 1935.
She was a confirmed suffragist who held key posts in several constitutional suffrage societies and took a direct part in the 'Scottish women graduates' case' from 1906 to 1908, arguing that under the 1868 Representation of the People (Scotland) Act 'person' did not mean only male voters.
During the First World War she devoted her energies to a number of advisory and administrative roles concerned with women’s training. After the war she focussed her attention on improving equal opportunities for women in many areas of society and was often publically critical of universities and other masculine institutions.
She was honoured with an OBE in 1935.