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Gender Methods Seminar: Using Cognitive Testing and Vignettes in the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index

Today, IFPRI hosted a Gender Methods Seminar: Using Cognitive Testing and Vignettes in the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI).

Abstract: Presented by Katie Sproule and Chiara Kovarik, this Gender Methods Seminar will focus on lessons learned from two recent field tests done for the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI). Using the qualitative methods of cognitive testing and vignettes, Katie Sproule, Chiara Kovarik and colleagues tested a revised version of the WEAI in Uganda and Bangladesh during the summer of 2014. Cognitive testing is a methodology that allows researchers to systematically identify and correct response error in surveys, while vignettes are hypothetical short stories used to elicit responses on challenging and often abstract topics. This presentation will describe each of these methods in detail, how they were applied to the WEAI, and share some preliminary results and lessons learned. Attendees will learn the benefits and challenges of each methodology, what kind of information each can yield, and practical tips on how to ensure that enumerators and respondents are fully understanding the questions.

If you weren’t able to join us virtually, you can see the slides and audio recording of the presentation here. Stay tuned for upcoming Gender Methods Seminars in 2015 and please let us know if you have suggestions of a method to present.


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Gender Methods Seminar today: Measuring Women’s Empowerment in Rural India Using Vignettes

Slides from the presentation are available at the end of this post.

Abstract: Many development projects have empowerment as one of their goals or as a means to achieve other development goals. Yet, the measurement of empowerment has proved very difficult and is riddled with technical and conceptual problems. Current approaches to measurement of empowerment rely on long questionnaires and, to some extent, on subjective perceptions which are not comparable across groups. In this paper we propose a method for measuring self-reported empowerment using anchoring vignettes and provide an application to a sample of rural women in Andhra Pradesh. This method is simple to administer and addresses biases in subjective perceptions. We show how perceptions vary systematically across groups and how they can be corrected for. We also show how the impact of a project on empowerment can be tested. In our application we find that most of the differences in self-reported empowerment are perceptual and that a self-help group intervention does not increase women’s empowerment.

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