Data Needs for Gender Research: Seminar

Woman Inspects Maize Crop, Uganda, Source: Flickr (IFPRI-Images)

On 8 July 2013, Cheryl Doss, Gender Lead for PIM, presented a talk on “Data Needs for Gender Analysis” as part of the Gender Methods Seminar Series hosted by IFPRI’s Gender Task Force.  The seminar drew from insights from research on household data collected in Kenya, Ecuador, Ghana, and Karnataka, India.

Throughout the seminar, Doss highlighted key issues related to data needs for gender analysis including intrahousehold issues, survey design, and gender-specific analysis of responses to questionnaires.  “A lot of work needs to go in the initial designing of questionnaires.  Questions get cut out that focus on gender analysis when people don’t understand why they’re put in there.  Researchers need to keep thinking about this all the way through the process."

"Doss challenged conventional applications of measuring and gathering household data by stating, “While many analyses go beyond simply comparing male and female headed households and calling that gender analysis, more nuanced gender analysis often requires interviewing more than one household member.”

Doss continued by explaining, “Interviewing multiple household members may be done for two different reasons.  First, it may be necessary to interview both men and women to understand their roles and responsibilities in agriculture.  In addition, men and women may have different perceptions about agricultural issues, including who owns and controls the land and who makes the decisions.”

Examples from Doss’s talk included results from research focusing on perceived differences in land ownership, number of assets, and intrahousehold relationships to demonstrate the importance of acknowledging these discrepancies when analyzing data. Doss examines the structure and approach to data collection for gender analysis   in more detail in her IFPRI Discussion Paper on Data Needs for Gender Analysis in Agriculture (2013, Issue Number 1261).

Doss concluded her talk by discussing the current focus of her work, which is on women’s access to and ownership of land and other assets.

“There’s a statistic that’s been going around that says women own 1% of land.  No data support this.  It’s a made up statistic.  Women certainly do own land in almost all parts of the world. But what definition of ownership you’re using usually varies.”

Doss noted, “If we are interested in gathering data on women’s empowerment, then we need to gather information on what women think.  What women think and perceive is an important measure in and of itself.”

Following Doss’s presentation, researchers engaged in a discussion of some of the research difficulties they’ve encountered, such as how to analyze data from polygamous households and gathering gender-specific information on labor markets and landless individuals.

The seminar highlighted approaches that researchers can use to collect data for various levels of gender analysis and re-affirmed the need for the continued integration of gender-specific research in gathering household data.  “We need to move beyond our general conviction that gender matters to more rigorous and evidence-based understanding of how it matters, and how interventions can remove barriers for opportunities for rural women,” stated PIM Director, Karen Brooks. “We are pleased to support this work in PIM,” she added.

Doss continued her visit to IFPRI by joining the rest of the PIM Focal Points and Management Committee for their annual meeting, which took place 9-10 July 2013. She is currently working with PIM colleagues to analyze available data on women’s land ownership in Africa.

Cheryl Doss is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics at Yale University.  Her research focuses on household decision making in rural communities, especially in Africa south of the Sahara. Her research focuses on household decision making in rural communities, especially in Africa south of the Sahara. 

For more information, see IFPRI Discussion Paper, Who Owns the Land?: Perspectives from Rural Ugandans and Implications for Land Acquisitions 2011.

The presentation can be downloaded here: Methods for Gender Research, Cheryl Doss