Four Ways to Incorporate a Gender Lens in Your Measurement and Evaluation Efforts

gg51bAcross the social sector, we have seen growing interest in bringing a gender lens to social change—from foundations and nonprofits aligning to the Sustainable Development Goals to businesses looking to create shared value. As organizations deepen their gender-related programming and companies invest in gender equity, there is one question that is inevitably raised: how do we measure that?

The first thing to know about gender-sensitive measurement is that it doesn’t just apply to programs that have an explicit gender focus. It’s something that becomes a foundational aspect of an organization’s measurement and evaluation approaches across its portfolio, enabling it to address inequities in how programs are rolled out and influence different groups. The field of evaluation has a significant history of incorporating a gender lens when evaluating programs or services. As part of that momentum, practitioners have created a range of tools, such as the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), and guides, such as Measuring Women’s Economic Empowerment. A group of practitioners has even come together to create Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality within programs and organizations.

FSG partners on strategic learning and evaluation projects with organizations that are at different points in the journey to incorporating such tools and practices into their work. Whether you’re a small nonprofit with limited human and financial resources, or a business starting to think about measuring the impact of a CSR effort, there are 4 ways to start incorporating gender in your measurement and evaluation efforts.

1) Disaggregate your data by sex and/or gender along the full data cycle

Collecting disaggregated data allows you to track differences in program reach, participation, and outcomes across groups. For example, if you are providing capacity building support to entrepreneurs, you might measure their businesses’ growth and find that on average, businesses grew by a certain percentage. If you did not collect sex-disaggregated data, you would likely miss a potential finding suggesting that while men’s businesses grew significantly, women’s businesses experienced little growth since they faced systemic barriers to securing additional investments.

While some data sets are only disaggregated by sex at birth, some surveys are starting to disaggregate beyond the gender binary. This not only creates a more inclusive experience for those from whom you collect data, but also sets you up to analyze the intricacies of how performance might differ across different genders and sexes. For additional context, analyze data by gender and other demographic characteristics, such as race and socio-economic status, to better understand outcome disparities within a gender group.

Collecting disaggregated data is not enough. It is critical to build this disaggregation into every aspect of your program’s lifecycle. Analyze your data on program reach, participation, and outcomes by gender to look for disparities and reveal trends. When you make strategic decisions, consider the gendered differences in your data and what you can do to improve your performance, particularly if your goal is to reduce inequities.

For example, going back to the scenario above, if one of your goals is to encourage female entrepreneurship, you might realize that you need to adapt your strategy to include a greater focus on supporting female entrepreneurs and their efforts at fundraising.

Blog post by Aditi Srinivasan, consultant for FSG

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