Gender Sensitive Research in Armenia and Switzerland: New Ideas for a Neglected Aspect

This project aims to develop the capacities of Yerevan State University Center for Gender and Leadership Studies (CGLS) staff and its affiliate researchers through a series of workshops, trainings, and online coaching in the field of gender research methodology. These workshops and trainings will be organized together with members of the University of Fribourg. The majority of researchers and policymakers all over the world in general, and in Armenia in particular, have an absence of gender or women studies programs. Moreover, they fail to consider the importance of the variable element of gender at all, and therefore it is not incorporated in their analyses. Often times there exists double standards. There are wrong assumptions that are used when conducting research. For example, assuming that the head of households are always men, or measuring the income of households by the income of men. Doing gender research also involves a lot of ethical issues, especially when studying sensitive topics such as gender-based violence, sexual violence and harassment, and other related issues. The approach to these study topics is also poorly understood by researchers and professors.

In the framework of this project, two workshops will be organized, one in Armenia and one in Switzerland, covering such topics as gender-sensitive research, and feminist qualitative research. PhD students and young scholars from both countries will take part at these workshops. An example of such method can be a method of oral story - a feminist approach when undertaking narrative-based research. Gender sensitive methodology will be explored taking as examples research on gender and mobility, gender and labor market, gender attitudes of youth, and other related topics. The workshops and cooperation will result in a methodological guideline on how to conduct gender sensitive research. This guideline will be published in English and Armenian, and will include mainly the following topics:

  • Placing gender at the center of research
  • Conscious partiality vs value-free research
  • Vertical relationship between the researcher, and the “research objects”, minimizing power relations
  • Socially engaged research, responsibility of the researcher
  • Using traditional research methods to approach gender issues
  • Self-reflexivity, positioning in relation to research participants
  • International comparative research on gender issues
  • Epistemological/methodological/ethical dilemmas in gender research, and how to address them
  • Gender research as a challenge to hierarchical power social relations, and empowerment for women and other marginalized groups

The guideline will be widely distributed to researchers, teachers, professors, representatives of local NGOs, and international organizations interested in gender research in both countries. It will be as well of help for lectures on methodological issues at both universities.

As a result of the project, and in order to continue our collaboration, a common methodology and a research designed to study gender and mobility issues in Switzerland and Armenia will be developed. This project will also help to build up a knowledge hub on feminist epistemology, and research methodology in the University of Fribourg and Yerevan State University.