Methodological issues and intersectionality in gender.
International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) Policy Forum on Gender Equality in Education,, Paris, France,
03 - 04 Oct 2011.
The methodological issues raised by gender equality research are related to the equality goals implicit within studies. Most organisations focus on representation and use numeric surveys as a means of assessing progress or the contrary. Representation is taken to be a mathematical relationship between the population of women educational leaders and a comparator population. Such studies raise numerous methodological and substantive issues, including the choice of comparator population, homogenization of women and problems in interpretation of what is deemed progress. Such studies routinely show the under-representation of women and far from providing suggestions for policy and practice development, may act as a displacement activity for addressing the factors which sustain inequality. Qualitative studies offer richer insights though from the perspective of those who are socialised into current gender regimes. Such data can offer insights into the range of perceptions of equality goals. Intersectionality theory has offered the potential to understand in more sophisticated ways the barriers created by the interplay of personal, structural and social factors which shape identities and relationships. As yet, there is little experience of methodological sophistication on which to draw in analysing data using an intersectionality framework. The paper uses data from a mixed methods study of women school principals in South Africa as an exemplar of methodological issues in using different kinds of data. It explores analysis methods related to questionnaire and interview data, and how intersectionality theory might aid assessment of women’s power to accept or to resist gender derived limitations on their entry to and enactment of leadership. It considers what analytical approaches might provide results to steer policy and practice in relation to the goals
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