Researching women’s leadership in Asia and the Pacific – reflections on feminist research approaches in design and in practice
This article explores how the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA) and partners have navigated the complexities and, sometimes competing, priorities, of feminist research methodology and values, in our practice. It demonstrates how, ultimately, decision-making processes along the way have been guided by the feminist values that underpin the research designs and the assertion that the process is as important as the outcome. We reflect in particular on the design and practice of two research projects undertaken by IWDA with partner women’s rights organisations in Asia Pacific. Under the Women’s Action for Voice and Empowerment programme, the projects – the Women’s Leadership Pathways research project and the Public Perceptions of Women as Leaders research project – explore the enablers and barriers to women’s leadership, from both public and private perspectives. The designs of both projects are mindful of hierarchies of authority and knowledge within the research processes that reinforce the status quo and power dynamics between the ‘expert’ and the ‘subject’ of the research. They also challenge the dynamics of power around the production and ownership of knowledge in academic spaces. They do this through collaborative designs that are locally led and owned, and through a strong valuing of women’s voices in research.
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