Women in Data
The role of social science research in creating social change is sometimes overlooked, however studies and data collection in this field are critical for generating the evidence needed to push for change. Just 30% of the world’s researchers are women and yet women have still contributed a huge amount to social science research and are often championed as leaders in the field. The Economic and Social Research Council’s annual Impact Prize, which consists of several categories including Outstanding International Impact, has been awarded to a woman 38 times out of 57 since its inception in 2013. It is fair to say that the role of women in social science research, and therefore social change, is not something to be understated.
At EDI Global we are incredibly proud to have a research team that is both led by and filled with talented, female social scientists, as well as numerous skilled female data processors and project coordinators, all of whom play an important role throughout the research cycle and particularly in the projects we implement. As the international development sector pushes towards gender equality, and therefore research into gender-related topics continues to grow, it is has to make sense that there is gender equality amongst those undertaking the research. Ensuring that women are involved in research and evidence generation means that a female perspective is being inserted and represented in the design of surveys and interviews, including deciding the types of questions being asked and who should be asking them. Including women at this level helps ensure that the voices and lived experiences of women won’t be missing from the data.
We decided to speak to some of our female team members to find out what made them choose a career in research and data collection and what being a woman working in data means to them.
“I have been designing and testing electronic surveys as well as providing technical support during data collection for over a decade now. I was initially drawn to working in the research and data collection sector as I had always wanted to be somehow involved in making a difference in people’s lives. My academic background in business IT and having a passion for technology allowed me to step into this field and work towards providing high-quality data which is instrumental in improving public well-being. I am delighted and proud to be working with other like-minded women who come from different backgrounds and have different skills and who work towards the same goal at EDI Global. However, we are under-represented in this industry which particularly needs skills that come easily to women such as determination, attention to detail and measured thinking. I think this field, and the world, will benefit if more women join the work force because we have proven that we can lead, especially in times of crisis.”
Alice Sumbatala – Data Processing Officer
“While awaiting graduation I was given my first research role as a data collector where I worked with an amazing, supportive and experienced woman, who gave me my first chance to present findings during a stakeholder meeting. With this being my first project I was amazed at how the lead consultant believed in me and I felt that I was suited to this field. I carried on the same duty for quite some time while working with various dynamic organisations. As a woman the toil was quite a hard one but I met very supportive, hardworking women who believed in uplifting others and showing the world that nothing can stop you, women who held my hand and moulded me into who I have become. As a woman with passion to make this world a better place for others, especially for other women, I realised that listening to the many voices of people and appreciating their way of life in all perspectives through data collection and management, would empower me in achieving that goal. Fact finding is key for any sustainable policy and my contribution to the process makes me realise how relevant women are in this field, and also in informing policies which form the basis of programmes.The good news is that there are many women out there who are playing a fundamental role in research and development but, unfortunately, go unrecognised. There is huge potential for women in the research sector to rise to the most senior level when given an enabling environment and equal opportunities.”
Marie Mallet – Senior Research Officer
“I have been supporting the implementation of data collection projects in East Africa for almost five years. The data collected is used for research purposes such as the evaluation of programmes to address crucial development issues across different sectors like health, education or agriculture. Collecting high quality data is therefore critical for informing policy makers, learning about what works and what doesn’t work and this, in the long term, contributes in improving people’s life and alleviating poverty. Being part of this process is gratifying and matches my interest in numbers and research in general. It was important for me to focus my career in a sector that uses rigorous scientific methods for the common good and the international development sector attracted me as it can offer great and very diverse professional opportunities in this area. Getting women involved in this sector is still a long ongoing process as women are still underrepresented in this sector, especially in leadership positions. Having more female leaders is important for inspiring young girls who still largely suffer from early school drop out in many countries and have lower access to high education studies. Lastly, I think including the dimension of gender in development projects is important to understand the gender gaps and for designing tailored programmes and policies to help changing negative perceptions of girls and for reducing gender inequalities.”
Highlighting the important role that women play in our sector is crucial, and we join our colleagues and friends in celebrating International Women’s Day 2021. Here at EDI Global We are proud to have women leading our research activities and playing a crucial role in data collection and international development research.