FIE TIG Week: Reflections on being a feminist evaluator. Also, an invitation to others to be one because we ALL have what it takes by Divya Bheda

This week, we celebrate the theme of building intersectional feminism into the future of the TIG with our colleagues in the Feminist Issues in Evaluation (FIE) TIG. This post is being brought back from the archive as evergreen content so important, it’s worth a second read.

Hello! I am Dr. Divya Bheda, you can find more about me here, and I am a feminist and an evaluator—i.e., a feminist evaluator. Over the last decade of being one, I often revisit what being a feminist evaluator means to me. Today, I thought I would share my current perspective with you.

I am a feminist evaluator because:

1. I work from a critical feminist epistemological perspective built heavily on womxn of color theorizing that centers standpoint and lived experience, affirms subjectivity over objectivity, interrogates the matrices of domination, power, and privilege imposed on us, amongst us, and within us (as human beings, intergenerationally) by interdependent, interwoven, and interactive, hegemonic, oppressive systems and forces such as patriarchy, capitalism, imperialism, colonization, ablism, ageism, heteronormativity, racism, classism, religion, etc. to name just a few, and privileges the intersectional, insider-outsider knowledge, perspective, scholarship, and identity.

2. I am a JEDI warrior. In every space–personal and professional I am working to advance Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) with courage and vulnerability, in solidarity, with humility, and often at a daily cost to myself. I keep trying to find subversive, creative, and catalyzing ways to challenges the status quo within myself, in my personal and professional relationships, and within systemic and institutional spaces. I disrupt silencing and reimagine centering in everything I do. I utilize and deploy various evaluation and/or methodological frameworks/templates as needed to live my values.

3. I prioritize relationships and caring, even as I explore and undertake restorative and transformative ways to learn, teach, and practice. I work from a place of love, hope and mindfulness, trust, and truth, and try to prioritize nature and the environment, people over performance, and humanity over materialism. I am nourished by generative networks, communities, and authentic friendships such as the one we have created within the Feminist Issues in Evaluation TIG where I can bring my full, whole, unapologetic self into a nurturing, constructive space. Please contact or if you want to join our space where we work to dismantle and unshackle ourselves from imposed and normalized ideals of perfectionism, activism, allyship, and ways of being that are unconsciously based on white, western, patriarchal, and colonized notions of how to be in this world.

4. I am powerful. I am enough. I am a phoenix, and I am tough. Without the societal rules, obligations, norms, rituals, and expectations imposed on us (again, as human beings) in seen and unseen ways using various cultural, sexualized, gendered, nationalized, and anti-matriarchal practices, and tools of exploitation and subjugation, I am and I can be.

Lessons Learned

The four lessons learned outlined in a diagram are:

1. I have agency and voice and if I am unable to deploy both fully, that space is not the right space for me to contribute or be in because I will not thrive. I embody feminist values and if they are not welcome or if an organization's espoused theory does not align with my feminist theory-in-action, I need to cut ties and move on

2. To the best of my ability, I am no longer allowing it to be the bridge called my back. I will actively find, align myself with, or build/create personal and professional spaces where I can be myself and be given the chance to grow with accountability. I am learning to say "no, this is NOT okay!" more comfortably and commonly (because so much of the "normalized" evaluation world, work, and ways of being are NOT okay). I don't have to be congenial to be collegial. I am paying it forward because I want more and will work for it.

3. 1 will constantly fight to expose and overcome my internalized oppression even as I recognize and correct my transferred oppression-driven thinking and actions. I refuse to make myself small to make others feel comfortable. 

4. Conflict is inevitable and ubiquitous. It is a good thing and if I cause it or find myself knee-deep in it, yay for me-especially as it relates to my feminist values! I need to source, resource, and replenish tbe tools and strategies, thinking and communication, and cheerleading community needed to help me be calm, comfortable, courageous, centered, and connected in conflict.

Hot Tip

We all need feminists in our life to make a difference in our ways of being, work, and practice; to make a positive impact in the field of evaluation. Find your fellow feminist evaluators. We need feminists within and beyond evaluation. And yes, you do NOT have to be a womxn to be a feminist or a feminist evaluator. How else can we expect our feminist evaluation practice grow?!

The American Evaluation Association is hosting 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

2 thoughts on “FIE TIG Week: Reflections on being a feminist evaluator. Also, an invitation to others to be one because we ALL have what it takes by Divya Bheda”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.