FIE/MME Week: Denise Seigart on Implementing a Feminist Evaluation of School Health Care

Greetings, I am Denise Seigart, Associate Dean for Nursing at Stvenson University.  Like a great novel, a great feminist evaluation creates the conditions for learning and change, particularly for the benefit of women. In 2008-2009 I implemented a feminist evaluation to study school-based health care in the United States (U.S.), Canada, and Australia. In the process of implementing a qualitative study of school-based health care, I utilized a feminist lens and feminist methods, including reflexivity, interviews focused on active listening and the experiences of the interviewees, collaborative examination of the data with interested stakeholders and other feminists and non-feminists, and diverse dissemination of the results for the purpose of promoting dialog, health care reform, and social justice for children. It was my intent to create conditions for a critical feminist exploration of school health care for children across the three countries, to share this information, and ultimately, promote community learning, action and change.

Lessons Learned:

  • Feminist evaluation is like other evaluation. It is concerned with measuring the effectiveness of programs, judging merit or worth, and examining data to promote change. The difference between feminist approaches and other evaluation models generally lies in the increased attention paid to gender issues, the needs of women, and the promotion of transformative change.
  • Feminist evaluation is interested in promoting social justice for women, but includes other oppressed groups as well. Attention is paid not only to gender but to race, class, sexual orientation, and abilities. In my study, I interviewed 73 school nurses, parents and administrators in Canada, Australia, and the U.S. regarding the presence and quality of school health care in their countries. I paid particular attention to emerging themes that indicated problems with racism, sexism, and classism, and asked additional questions as these emerged. For example, it was apparent that certain groups had more difficulty accessing health care in schools (aborigines, children with special needs) and that depending on the school district, services could vary widely. Teachers (largely women) were often asked to act as health care providers to save school districts money, and nurse practitioners (largely women) experienced difficulty gaining access and approval to provide care in schools.
  • To implement a feminist evaluation, think carefully about the questions you want to ask, the methods you want to use, and the setting. Some facilities may bar access to evaluators who declare themselves as feminist, so the language you use should be carefully chosen. Be sure to involve other feminists and non-feminists, so when planning your design or analyzing data, you can check for misinterpretations or “what would a feminist see?”

Rad Resources:

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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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