FIE TIG Week: Bridging the Divide: Gender-based Analysis Quality and Evaluation by Jane Whynot

By way of introduction, my name is Jane Whynot and I currently serve as one of the Program Co-Chairs of AEA’s Feminist Issues in Evaluation TIG. Super sorry to have missed you this year in Cleveland but delighted that I can share some of the highlights with you via AEA365. Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) is Canadian tailored gender mainstreaming approach to intersectional analysis. It’s also been mandated for our federal government evaluation function. It’s more than a straightforward tool; it’s also been conceptualized as a process, an output, and importantly a competency for your evaluator toolbelt. Once you start thinking this way about who can/or can’t access, and participate in interventions including evaluation, it’s hard to unsee.

Cool Tricks:

Use of GBA+ in evaluations can be thought of in a similar way to evaluation use itself and includes conceptual, instrumental, process, and symbolic applications. Talking about integrating GBA+ in evaluation amongst stakeholders invariably leads to changes in understanding. As a result of GBA+ and evaluation discussions we’ve seen department networks formed, lunch and learn events occur, interagency working groups develop. The possibilities are infinite, especially when senior leadership is on board. Thanks to JT, GBA+ is everywhere including dedicated chapters in our federal budget!

Lessons Learned:

  • Dig in and explore the various kinds of literature. You may have to do some background preparation to demonstrate to decision-makers at the program and senior management levels why it’s important to include GBA+ in your evaluation efforts. For those most vulnerable/affected by an issue it’s critical to remember that their concerns may not be represented in the academic literature. Go beyond and look to the grey literature including media accounts, and conference proceedings to ensure that diverse perspectives are well represented. If they aren’t, how/can these be included in your evaluation?
  • Integrating GBA+ in evaluation needs to be planned for because it requires time, expertise, capacity and money. But like any planning effort, efforts invested at the front end go a long way during implementation.
  • This is a long-haul effort to increase diversity, and embrace inclusion. Competencies and capacities are being developed by the federal evaluation function but driving without a roadmap is difficult. This is where quality criteria would be helpful; thanks to the work of various academics we know that any quality criteria standards need to consider both the process, and outcomes of integrating GBA+ in evaluation.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Feminist Issues in Evaluation (FIE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the FIE Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our FIE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

7 thoughts on “FIE TIG Week: Bridging the Divide: Gender-based Analysis Quality and Evaluation by Jane Whynot”

  1. Thank you, Jane.
    Here are a few studies about sex differences in the Nordic countries: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0153857
    Here is a brief overview of Norway’s gender segregated labour market, which states that women choose women-dominated fields because they can combine family and work: https://www.nikk.no/en/news/the-gender-segregated-labour-market-a-nordic-paradox/
    In order to decide where discrimination actually happens in legislation, please see the most recent WB study: https://wbl.worldbank.org/
    Here is another article outlining that in the Nordic countries, women choose to work in female-dominated fields: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/246990217_Occupational_Segregation_by_Sex_in_Nordic_Countries_An_Empirical_Investigation
    Yet another article outlining that the more gender equal the country is, the less women choose to study STEM: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/the-more-gender-equality-the-fewer-women-in-stem/553592/
    I started my international development field working on gender advocacy issues in Moldova, a former Soviet Union country. As a researcher, however, I prefer to stick to the evidence without judgement and without feminist theories (which are simply ideas not necessarily backed with empirical evidence).

  2. Carrie Wihksne

    It seems as though innovations in inclusion are slow moving and are yet to fully meet the diversity needs that are increasing in society. So it is encouraging to see that the Canadian government is continuing to encourage and use systems that bridge the gaps in equality between often unrepresented groups of people.
    I am currently taking 2 courses towards my master’s of education, the first in Program Evaluation and the second in Innovations in Teaching and Learning and so it was interesting to read your post as it connected the content from both of these courses.
    Program Evaluations was a foreign concept to me at the start of my course but knowing what I do now, it is easy to understand why using a GBA+ approach would be essential to conducting an effective evaluation. I can also see why it would be so important to validate this to program management to make sure that all diverse groups of people are being considered in the course of an evaluation.
    Thanks for the post!

    1. Hi Carrie, thanks for taking the time to read and respond to the post – much appreciated. I love hearing of individual’s connections to the materials that they are currently studying, somehow it makes it that much more meaningful. Good luck to you in your studies!

      Slow moving – definitely. The federal government has had commitments to gender mainstreaming since Beijing but its taken a change in political leadership to move things forward recently. I don’t think that GBA+ and intersectionality itself is an innovation but would offer that its widespread application across the federal government is. As of yet, the results of this application have yet to see significant instrumental use which would ultimately be reflected in changes in diversity/inclusion. Given that its operationalization was largely politically driven, it may be difficult to sustain over the long term. As ever… we remain optimistic.

      Cheers, Jane

  3. Dear evaluators, a few thoughts if I may (as a female feminist, a Canadian and Estonian and immigrant). 1) Some widespread assumptions such as ‘the visible minorities earn less than non-minorities’ are not supported by evidence. See here, for example, which shows clearly that Asian minorities out-earn white people on average: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_the_United_States_by_household_income … Secondly, 2) Perhaps the biggest problem with intersectional theory as envisioned by Kimberlé Crenshaw here: https://www.wikigender.org/wiki/intersectionality/ is that all outcome differences are explained through discrimination, ignoring people’s own agency. Women make their own decisions when it comes to occupation and employment – the occupational preferences have in fact widened in the Nordic countries, which rank high in gender equality metrics. 3) Nick Scott and Janet Siltanen refer in their paper to “each gender” which they advise to take into consideration when assessing the impact of policies but we do not have a final list of genders (!) potentially leading to research design flaws. 4) Canada’s Status of Women website https://cfc-swc.gc.ca/gba-acs/index-en.html makes a claim that “every human cell has a sex” without specifying how is this knowledge relevant to the intersectional analysis. If anything, it might undermine the non-binary argument. 5) Finally, diversity is very important. There is evidence that most innovative and successful firms have consciously engaged a very diverse workforce, by encouraging *viewpoint* diversity. 🙂

    1. Greetings Marje, thanks for taking the time to read and provide comments. The points that you raise are well considered as I don’t know of any tool that is perfect and its about raising the standard. I particularly liked the point that you raised about choices that are made. It made me reflect back to some of the ground-breaking offerings by Naila Kabeer (1999) who provides a thoughtful reflection in the context of measurement of results and women’s empowerment, on choices including the option not to choose. She identifies that agency and choice require a consideration of context that includes meaning, motivation and purpose. If these aren’t considered, then this can lead to evidence/differences in inequality versus differences in preferences. For those interested in reading further, very well worth it. The full article title is Resources, Agency, Achievements: Reflections on the Measurement of Women’s Empowerment. A link to the article can be found at: https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~kmacd/IDSC10/Readings/research%20design/empowerment.pdf

      Cheers, Jane

  4. This is one of the most helpful and applicable posts I’ve read in 20 years! Not only is it needed for intersectionality and putting justice practically in evaluation, but it is helpful as I think through culturally responsive Indigenous evaluation. As part of EvalIndigenous and AEAs IWG and Chair of Co-Chair for AEAs Indigenous Peoples TIG, we also need resources to support capacity building in a similar way. “Aho!” (Indigenous shout out and thanks) for sharing!!!

    1. Thanks Nicky for the lovely feedback, it is sincerely appreciated. Glad to know that EvalIndigenous, AEA’s IWG and Chair of Co-Chair for AEA’s Indigenous Peoples TIG is so well represented by your leadership.

      Cheers, Jane

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