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FIE/MME Week: Donna Podems on Applying Feminist Evaluation for Non-feminist Evaluators

Hello, I am Donna Podems, founder and director of OtherWISE: Research and Evaluation, a small monitoring and evaluation firm in Cape Town, South Africa.  We work with a wide range of international and local donors who fund a wide variety of technical interventions in areas such as environment, education, health, community development and human rights.

We encourage evaluation use through choosing and mixing different evaluation approaches that will bring credible and useful evaluation findings. Feminist evaluation is one of the approaches that I often draw upon, and this often surprises many of my colleagues.

Feminist evaluation can be useful– even for non-feminist evaluators.

Hot Tip:

  • You do not need to be a feminist to use feminist evaluation. It is important to understand that not all feminist evaluators (or evaluation theorists) agree with me. Over 18 years of conducting evaluation in more than 25 countries, I have had the privilege of working with many talented evaluators, most of whom were not feminists. In more than 15 different evaluations in Africa and Asia, my team members agreed to incorporate various elements of a feminist approach that resulted in useful evaluation processes and findings.

Lessons learned: Three lessons I have learned about addressing the question I hear the most, “How do you apply feminist evaluation if you are not a feminist?

  • Be knowledgeable about what feminist evaluation is, and is not. Many people I work with have a strong reaction to feminist evaluation and yet few can explain what the approach entails. Demonstrate how elements of the approach could enable a credible and useful evaluation.
  • Remove the label. Having two words that often elicit strong reactions together in one phrase is a challenge. Remove the label and explain the approach.
  • Adapt as needed. In my experience, feminist evaluation often provides a useful complement to other evaluation approaches.

Rad Resource:

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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