⇓ More from ICTworks

Female Perspectives on How Gender Matters in ICT4D Research

By Guest Writer on February 1, 2023

mobile data collection

Gender and development constitute a well-accepted and critical orthodoxy in the field of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D). Promoting gender equality and women‘s empowerment is one United Nations Millennium Development eight Goals. Thus, ICT4D gender discourse has tended to focus on differences between men and women in the roles and opportunities which affect technology usage.

While ICT4D research has duly focused on women as users and beneficiaries; there has been little discussion on how women as researchers may influence research outcomes.

Acknowledging that a researcher‘s gender may interact with social and cultural factors such as economic differences, ethnicity, social class and religious beliefs in the field is a first step in understanding the ways in which research goals, processes, and outputs are impacted by the researcher‘s self. As female researchers, the authors were interested in discussing the shaping of relations in field studies by virtue of researchers being female.

In Gender Matters: Female Perspectives in ICT4D Research, we have gathered together the field experiences of eight researchers using a variety of methodologies.

We began this work with the expectation that we would find strong common themes related to gender amongst our various experiences. However, the reality was that our experiences varied greatly. Furthermore, in some cases gender clearly played influential parts in the relationships with field subjects and other time the role of gender seemed secondary to other socio-cultural markers such as age, race and perceived level of education.

Two themes ran through this work, both relating to how the researcher negotiates their identity in the field.

  • First, we balance the perception of the researcher as an insider or outsider to the field community. We found a tendency to highlight characteristics which make us seem more like insiders to our target communities.
  • Second, there is a need to perform our identities in ways that serve our research best. We reflected upon and the relationship that is built between researcher and community and analyzed our field engagements reflexively as objects of enquiry themselves reflected upon our ̳given‘ positions as female researchers.

Through our anecdotes, we demonstrated a variety of relationships and situations that we have either encountered briefly for become deeply embedded in. We have all found it necessary to ̳perform our gender in some way conscious of how field communities might perceive and receive us. In this process we have had to negotiate our identities with meanings, beliefs and values within our lived and felt experience.

We hope that our documenting of our own experiences is only the first step in a larger conversation about the relation between the researcher and the field in ICT4D.

Note that we did not aim to uncover gender biases, or compare the influences of female versus male researchers, or attempt a feminist critique of researcher practice. Instead, we aimed to present the experience of a number of female researchers at the heart of an evolving field dynamic between participants and researchers.

A lightly edited excerpt from Gender Matters: Female Perspectives in ICT4D Research by Nicola J Bidwell, Ann Light, Ilda Ladeira, Jameila Roberson, Shikou Gitau, Nimmi Rangaswamy, and Nithya Sambasivam

Filed Under: Women in Tech
More About: , , , , , ,

Written by
This Guest Post is an ICTworks community knowledge-sharing effort. We actively solicit original content and search for and re-publish quality ICT-related posts we find online. Please suggest a post (even your own) to add to our collective insight.
Stay Current with ICTworksGet Regular Updates via Email

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.