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FIE/MME Week: Alessandra Galiè on Feminist Small N Evaluation

Hello! I am Alessandra Galiè, a PhD Candidate at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. From 2006 to 2011 I collaborated with a Participatory Plant Breeding programme coordinated at the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) to assess the impact of the programme on the empowerment of the newly involved women farmers in Syria. The findings helped to understand how empowerment as a process can take place, and were useful to make the programme’s strategies more gender-sensitive. I chose to work with a small number (Small-N) of respondents (12 women) and a mixture of qualitative methods to provide and in-depth understanding of changes in empowerment as perceived by the women themselves and their community.

Lessons Learned

  • Small-N research is valuable. Small-N in-depth research is often criticised for its limited external validity. However, it was an extremely valuable methodology to explore a field of research that is relatively new with the aim of providing an understanding of complex social processes, of formulating new questions and  identifying new issues for further exploration.
  • Systematic evaluation should include empowerment. Empowerment is an often cited impact of development projects but rarely the focus of systematic evaluation. Assessing changes in empowerment required an approach that was specific to the context and intervention under analysis and that was relevant to the respondents and their specific circumstances. This revealed different positionalities of women in the empowerment process and the inappropriateness of blue print solutions to the ‘empowerment of women’.
  • Measure gender-based implications. An analysis of the impact of a breeding programme on the empowerment of women showed that ‘technical interventions’ have gender-based implications for both technology effectiveness and equity of development concerns.


The American Evaluation Association is celebrating the Mixed Methods Evaluation and Feminist Issues TIGs (FIE/MME) Week. The contributions all week come from FIE/MME 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.

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