– the “facts” of biology,
especially related to
– said to be universal
– But… 5 sexes?
– sociocultural meaning
– changes over time and
in different contexts
– A third gender? Omani
The concept of "gender" permits biological
capacity and social roles to be analytically
separable and to acknowledge that change is
Biology imposes limits on what people can do, but
when we feel the need we usually try to overcome
them at times all too recklessly. Bareskinned, we live
in the arctic; wingless we fly; we live underwater
without benefit of gills. In view of [this] ingenuity…. it
might seem odd that scientists call on sometimes
quite subtle hypothetical differences between women
and men to explain gender inequalities and that
research into sex differences arouses so much
scientific and public interest.
We must recognize that differences among people
are of interest only if they are correlated with
differences in power.
• Positivist perspective: reality exists and can be studied
• Common view: Qualitative methods help “to check, qualify, and
enrich the findings from the more established [read here
“quantitative”] analytical approaches.”
• Qualitative approaches can provide insight into:
– peoples’ perceptions and their observed practices: the why
and the how
– process; change over time
– “rich description” such as the multiple meanings associated
with terms and behaviors
– the individual’s point of view, a reminder that people are “active
participants in constructing their own future” (Booth et al. 2006)
– the constraints of everyday life
Why Qualitative Methods?
Vision for Mixed
Quant survey & analysis
Indepth qual interviews
of qualitative and
• Make visible women’s
• Differentiate men’s and
• Understand “outliers,”
• Allows for responses
not limited by precoding
Why Qualitative Methods for Gender
Data Collection Methods:
Key Informant Interviews
Focus Group Discussions
A conversation with
Use a questionnaire
One question at a
Let the interviewee
qualitative ≠ haphazard
but can be
Discrete or Open-ended questions
Descriptive questions (broad, general) and allow people to
describe their experiences and their daily activities, e.g., “Tell
me about a typical day.”
Structural questions explore responses to descriptive
questions. They are used to understand how the respondent
Avoid asking the informant questions that make him or her do
the analytical work for you. Instead of asking, “What do you
mean that it is “too hard” to find workers at planting time?” you
might ask, “What efforts did you take to find workers at planting
time?” or “Give me an example of what you did to find workers.”
Key Informant Interviews
Who are Key
– They have specialized
– They represent larger
– They are influential
– They are gatekeepers
Beware sample bias
– Dominant narratives
– Too many men
– Too many wealthier or
higher status women
(e.g., chiefs’ wives,
lead farmers, married
women only, etc.)
All members are
encouraged to participate;
easiest with more
Can be structured, semi-
structured, or open-ended
Can accommodate about
Value Chain Group Interview
Purpose: To understand the activities of men and women in the value chain
Task Women Men
Preparing the land X XXXX
Input use XX XXXX
Weeding XXXXX** XX
Harvesting XXX XXX
A Special Type of Group Interview:
Focus Group Discussions
Historically, the FGD was used to test specific positions or
findings with a defined group (think shampoo):
1) What are your experiences with [selected topic]?
2) What are the challenges to changing people attitudes about
3) What actions can be taken to address [selected topic]?
• Allows individuals to hear from other participants in the group in
a way that creates new ideas and sometimes influences
previously held opinions.
• The goal of the focus group is to see which views are more widely
held and to clarify their meaning.
“Gender Filters Knowledge”
• Women and men interviewees may respond differently
to women or men interviewers.
• Married women/men may respond differently when
interviewed alone or with spouse (or other family
• Gendered access to information means different
respondents may tell different stories – both may be
Data Analysis Process
The art of interpretation:
“From field notes to filed notes”
– Charts, tables, figures,
Searching for patterns
Accounting for the
Creating the narrative
perceptions and belief
Bernard, H. Russell 2006 Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and
Quantitative Approaches. 4th Ed. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.
Booth, David, Melissa Leach, and Alison Tierney 2006 “Experiencing Poverty in Africa:
Perspectives from Anthropology,” Q2 Working Paper No. 25. Toronto: University
Denzin, N.K. and Yvonna S. Lincoln (eds) 1994 Handbook of Qualitative Research.
Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.
Fausto-Sterling, Anne 1993 "The Five Sexes," The Sciences, 33: 20-25, April/May.
Rubin, D. and C. Manfre 2012 “Promoting Gender-equitable Agricultural Value Chains:
Issues, Opportunities, and Next Steps.” In A. Quisumbing, R. Meinzen-Dick, T.
Raney, A. Croppenstedt, J. A. Behrman, and A. Peterman (eds.) Gender in
Agriculture and Food Security: Closing the Knowledge Gap. Springer.
Rubin, Deborah, Cristina Manfre, and Kara Nichols-Barrett 2009 Promoting Gender
Equitable Opportunities for Agricultural Value Chain. Washington D.C.: USAID.
Wikan, Unni 1977 "Man Becomes Woman: Transsexualism in Oman as a Key to
Gender Roles," Man 12 (2): 304-319.