Qualitative Methods in Gender Research - IFPRI Gender Methods Seminar


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Presented as part of the IFPRI Gender Methods Seminar Series, hosted by the IFPRI Gender Task Force. Presenter: Deborah Rubin.

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Qualitative Methods in Gender Research - IFPRI Gender Methods Seminar

  1. 1. Qualitative Methods for Gender Research Deborah Rubin Cultural Practice, LLC IFPRI Gender Brown Bag Series Washington, D.C. April 22, 2014
  2. 2. What do you see, sex or gender?
  3. 3. Sex – the “facts” of biology, especially related to reproductive potential – said to be universal and unchanging – Male/Female – But… 5 sexes? Hermaphroditism Gender – sociocultural meaning associated with biological facts – changes over time and in different contexts – Man/Woman – A third gender? Omani Xanith The concept of "gender" permits biological capacity and social roles to be analytically separable and to acknowledge that change is possible
  4. 4. 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. (Ruth Hubbard1990:72)
  5. 5. • 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 5 Why Qualitative Methods?
  6. 6. Vision for Mixed Methods Approach Initial qual interviews  Quant pretest Quant survey & analysis Indepth qual interviews Ground truthing A sequenced interactive approach of qualitative and quantitative methods and analysis 6
  7. 7. • Make visible women’s life experiences • Differentiate men’s and women’s views • Understand “outliers,” noncompliance, multiple meanings • Allows for responses not limited by precoding 7 Why Qualitative Methods for Gender Research?
  8. 8. Data Collection Methods: Interviews Key Informant Interviews Group Interviews Focus Group Discussions Interview Principles A conversation with a purpose Use a questionnaire Express ignorance One question at a time Let the interviewee finish talking…
  9. 9. Asking Questions qualitative ≠ haphazard but can be Structured/Semistructured/Unstructured 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 organizes knowledge. 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.” 9
  10. 10. Key Informant Interviews Who are Key Informants? – They have specialized knowledge – They represent larger group – 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.)
  11. 11. Group Interviews Extractive process All members are encouraged to participate; easiest with more homogeneous groups Can be structured, semi- structured, or open-ended interview schedule Can accommodate about 15 people
  12. 12. Value Chain Group Interview 12 Purpose: To understand the activities of men and women in the value chain Task Women Men Preparing the land X XXXX X** Planting XXXXX** Input use XX XXXX Weeding XXXXX** XX Harvesting XXX XXX Post-harvest activities (sorting, grading, shelling, packing) XXXXXXX
  13. 13. 13 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 [selected topic]? 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.
  14. 14. “Gender Filters Knowledge” 1 4 Context: • 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 members) Content: • Gendered access to information means different respondents may tell different stories – both may be correct.
  15. 15. Data Analysis Process The art of interpretation: “From field notes to filed notes” Data reduction – Compilation – Cleaning – Coding Data display – Charts, tables, figures, maps Verification and conclusions Reflexive process Describing tacit knowledge Searching for patterns Accounting for the researcher Creating the narrative
  16. 16. Guiding Principles Acknowledge complexity Be analytical Collect sex- disaggregated data Deconstruct gender stereotypes Examine gender perceptions and belief
  17. 17. 17 Suggested References 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 of Toronto. 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.