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FIE TIG Week: Donna Podems on the Difference Between Feminist Evaluation and Gender Approaches

Greetings from South Africa. I am Donna Podems, a Research Fellow at Stellenbosch University, and founder and director of OtherWISE: Research and Evaluation, a small monitoring and evaluation firm in Cape Town, South Africa.

As a practitioner and academic, I often engage in discussions around evaluation theory and practice. One common discussion is around the differences between gender evaluation approaches and feminist evaluation. While they have many commonalities, and one often draws on the other, they each bring their own strengths—and weaknesses.

Understanding the difference between the two approaches in their purest form enables evaluators to choose what elements of which approach are appropriate for their evaluation design—if any at all.

Lesson Learned: Four Key Distinctions between Feminist Evaluation and Gender Approaches:

  1. Feminist evaluation and gender approaches have different historical roots and bring their own strengths (and weaknesses) to an evaluation.
  2. Gender approaches aim to document and map the lives of women, while feminist evaluation aims to change them.
  3. Feminist evaluation would be used to guide the evaluation methodology if the evaluation questions seek to understand why differences exist between men and women and to bring about social change.
  4. Feminist evaluation offers broad guidance that encourages an evaluator how to think about an evaluation, and how to use that reflection to inform the evaluation’s design, data collection, and communication of findings. Gender approaches often provide more concrete guidelines and prescriptive methods for data collection and analysis.

Feminist evaluation and gender approaches can be quite complementary, with both effortlessly integrating together as a part of an evaluation design. They can also be used as distinct approaches on their own, or incorporated into other approaches, such as economic evaluations.

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.

1 thought on “FIE TIG Week: Donna Podems on the Difference Between Feminist Evaluation and Gender Approaches”

  1. Thanks for the great post (Donna Podems on the Difference Between Feminist Evaluation and Gender Approaches). I recently read ‘Feminist Evaluation and Gender Approaches: There’s a Difference?’. It is a valuable resources for those interested in this area.

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