HELLO! We are Kathleen Doll (independent evaluation consultant and doctoral student at Claremont Graduate University (CGU)) , Nina Sabarre (founder and principle of Intention 2 Impact and doctoral student at CGU) , and Libby Smith (program director at University of Wisconsin-Stout and evaluator with ARC Evaluation).
In March 2018, we joined forces to craft a research study as a means to grapple with the pervasively dismal trends of gender equality in the workplace; a relevant issue to many of us. Despite widespread attention to feminist issues, empirical evidence suggests progress for women leadership remains slow. Although women have earned more college degrees than men for the past three decades, less than 5% of fortune 500 CEOs and 24% of the US legislature are women.
However, as we reflected on the field of evaluation, specifically AEA, we saw an abundance of women in leadership positions and a proliferation of women pioneering their own businesses. This made us wonder – is the field of evaluation an example of gender equity in the workplace? If so, what could other fields learn from us?
While of course, the field of evaluation certainly does have much room for improvement, our qualitative phenomenological research study, leveraging the voices of 11 prominent women evaluators, yielded some juicy findings! We had the joy of sharing our working at AEA 2018 in Cleveland. For those of you who were not able to join, here are some of our lessons learned.
- Many women we interviewed directly experienced gender discrimination in their evaluation work, especially at the onset of their careers. However, many cited that as they worked in the field longer, they became sheltered from gender issues due to the large numbers of women in the field.
- Majority does not equate equity. Although there are more women in evaluation, many interviewees still felt that men still have more influence.
- Several respondents felt that their evaluation approach was affected by their thinking about race more so than gender. Although it is worthwhile to understand the collective experiences of women, intersectionality needs to be addressed.
- Women respondents were embracing intuition, empathy, and interpersonal skills to conduct more rigorous and inclusive evaluations, as well as overcome barriers
With all this in mind… where does the field of evaluation go from here? Well, the three of us certainly have more questions than answers, but we are committed to keeping this dialogue alive and launching another phase of this research study. What are some directions you would like to see this conversation move? Reach out (email@example.com) and let’s ALL continue the conversation!
Rad Resource: For those of you thirsty for more findings from our study, feel free to access our slide deck HERE!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.