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Women's and Gender Studies

Subject guide for Women and Gender Studies

What is Feminist Research?

What is feminist research?

Just as there are many definitions and forms of feminism, there are also many ways to consider feminist research. One concise definition comes from the non-governmental organization the International Women's Development Agency:

"Feminist research tries to capture the diversity of women’s experience, explore the gendered manifestation of power (both in the topic for research and the way in which the research is conducted), and interrogate the operation of gender norms."

To expand on this further, feminist research is not only looking at gender but can more broadly be understood as non-androcentric and decolonizing, meaning that feminist research can be on topics that are not necessarily just related to gender. The Feminist Research Institute at University of California, Davis defines feminist research as: 

"Intersectional: encompassing sex and gender as they relate to other categories of difference such as race, class, ability, sexuality, and religion.

Inclusive: recognizing expertise across different spaces and disciplinary boundaries.

Justice-oriented: challenging structures of inequality in everyday interactions as well as social institutions, including academia itself.

Transformative: enacting positive change to end oppression and create a more just world."

How can this be included in your research? 

-Think critically about who is considered an "expert" on the topic. 

  • People with lived experience can be experts too, not just academics and researchers. 
  • Expanding our perceptions of who has the authority and education to speak on a topic helps to ensure that we don't privilege some types of knowledge over others. 

-Look at a wide variety of sources.

  • Scholarly or peer-reviewed articles, while probably the ones required by your professors, are not the only source type you should use. Many academic journal publishers privilege the work of scholars from North American and Western Europe and often exclude the works of researchers from low-income countries. 
  • Systemic oppression impacts the ways information is created, valued, and shared, so explore some non-traditional source types to gather more inclusive perspectives. 

Find more in-depth information in the sources below: