Tackling the gender gap in research

“We’re in charge. Women know very well how to farm here,” explained a young woman from San Gabriel de las Molinas, a hillside village in Mexico, in response to a question suggesting that men were more productive farmers.

The focus group where this conversation took place was part of a pilot exercise in over 70 villages around the world, developing data collection tools to explore why some agricultural innovations lead to women’s empowerment while others do not.

Researcher Alejandro Ramirez interviews a farmer

The pilot in Mexico was one of 19 case studies completed in 2014 by the CIMMYT-led CGIAR Research Programs on Maize and Wheat for the CGIAR Global Study on Gender Norms, Agency and Innovation in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (Gennovate).

“CGIAR research programs are ‘raising the game’ by committing to a concerted effort to improve gender equality in agriculture” explained Lone Badstue, CIMMYT’s strategic leader for gender research. “Without appropriate incorporation of gender considerations, technically-superior innovations are limited in their impact and may instead exacerbate gender inequalities.”

Integrating gender

During 2014, MAIZE also implemented the “Gender Matters in Farm Power” project, led by the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) and which is investigating opportunities to empower men and women through scale-appropriate mechanization. Other activities included efforts to integrate gender into participatory varietal section, the creation of a gender strategy for maize seed system development, and initiatives to integrate gender into advisory services and small-scale entrepreneurship.

Notable work by WHEAT included the design of a Glasgow Caledonian University study on gender relations in key wheat regions in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. The Program also mobilized resources for an ambitious project to better understand gender and shape research activities to empower resource-poor women in wheat-growing areas of Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Pakistan.

Jointly, MAIZE and WHEAT carried out a study to improve gender equality and empower women professionals in research. The programs also endorsed revised gender strategies, while the demand from scientists and research teams for gender inputs for wheat research continued to increase. Overall, the number of CIMMYT projects with an explicit gender focus rose from four in 2011 to 20 in 2014 (while the number of gender staff increased from one in 2011 to four in 2014).

Editors-in-chief Geneviève Renard, Michael Listman Creative Director/design Clyde R. Beaver III Slate Design Lead Sam Storr Graphics Eliot Sanchez, Marcelo Ortiz, Bosen Zhou Principal writing/editing Michael Listman, Geneviève Renard, Julie Mollins, Sam Storr, Jennifer Johnson, Katherine Lutz, Katelyn Roett, Ashwamegh Banerjee. Contributors Tripti Agarwal, Lone Badstue, Frédéric Baudron, José Juan Caballero, Ma. Concepion Castro, Vijay Chaikam, Uran Chung, Ricardo Curiel, Anuradha Dhar, K.C. Dilli, Nirmal Govindan, Muhammad Imtiaz, Moti Jaleta, M.L. Jat, Arun Joshi, Promil Kapoor, Petr Kosina, Mauricio Malpica Aranda, Esther Mendoza Ramos, Hae Koo, Surabhi Mittal, Alexey Morgounov, Wandera Ojanji, Natalia Palacios, Roberto Javier Peña, Eloise Phipps, S.P. Poonia, Yahya Rauf, Matthew Reynolds, Rajiv Sharma, Miriam Shindler, Florence Sipalla, Sam Storr, Adefris Teklewold, Kindie Tesfaye, Brenda Wawa, Martha Willcox, Wren Media , Patrick Yadav, P.H. Zaidi, Bosen Zhou. Photographers Cover: CIMMYT Archives. Inside this issue: Ashwamegh Banerjee, Frédéric Baudron, Clyde Beaver, Iván Vázquez Cruz, Xochiquetzal Fonseca, ML Jat, Petr Kosina, Peter Lowe, Ranak Martin, Allen McHugh, Garry Rosewarne, Alfredo Saénz, Sam Storr, Anne Wangalachi, Patrick Wall, Martha Willcox and CIMMYT archives.

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