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Offer: Qualitative Research Specialist Consultant (Poverty Reduction) - Location: Washington, DC, USA - Deadline: 03-May-2013


The Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) of the World Bank’s Africa Region Gender Practice, which is mapped to the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) unit in the Africa Region, is currently working on over 20 rigorous impact evaluations in the areas of agricultural productivity, entrepreneurship and employment, property rights, assets, and agency.
We are now entering a new phase in our work, advancing from asking how programs impact men and women differently, to identifying, developing and testing innovative policy solutions for alleviating underlying gender constraints. In this new phase, GIL plans to launch new 12 quantitative impact evaluations, and to make more systematic use of qualitative research techniques to support GIL’s work. When interventions potentially involve a substantial change in social relations or institutions, qualitative research can help us understand the process of change; can inform what questions we seek to ask and answer with the quantitative research; can be used to explain surprising quantitative research results (for example, when we see a much larger effect than expected, an opposite effect than expected, or unexpected heterogeneity across groups); and can draw out how the research findings can (or cannot) be abstracted to other settings.
The Qualitative Research Specialist position is a new position, and he/she will be the only person on GIL’s core team with an extensive background in qualitative research methods – the rest of the team is comprised primarily of economists.
The Qualitative Research Specialist will engage in a select and strategic subset of GIL impact evaluations and research questions. The Qualitative Research Specialist will be based in Washington, DC, and will work under the direct supervision of the Africa Region Gender Practice Leader.
The position is full-time, and requires frequent travel to countries where ongoing work is being developed, primarily Anglophone and Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa, and also some Lusophone countries. As this is a new position, and the first year will be a learning process with respect to how this new position works in conjunction with the rest of the Gender Innovation Lab, the initial contract for this position will be a one year Extended Term Consultant contract.

It is the objective of the World Bank’s Africa Region to advance development for both men and women. Standing in the way are some grim facts. Agricultural yields for female farmers are significantly less than for their male counterparts, a pattern driven by lower use of labor, crop choice, and the fact that they are often responsible for child rearing. Female-owned firms are also less profitable. And attitudes and norms such as inheritance practices perpetuate many of these inequalities across generations. Identifying gender disparities has been an important step in setting the groundwork for solving these disparities. We now need to shift the gender argument by rigorously assessing solutions that address the underlying causes of gender inequality.
There are still pressing knowledge gaps, particularly in the productive sectors relating to voice and agency. For instance, in the case of agricultural productivity, while we know that productivity on farms in Sub-Saharan Africa could increase by between 10 and 30 percent if women used inputs at the same rate as men, we still do not know how best to provide women with consistent access to inputs. In the entrepreneurship and employment sector, we know that if women were to shift to male-dominated sectors they could improve their returns, but we do not know how to effectively spur and sustain that change in economic roles. While we have made some progress toward equality of men and women under the law, we do not know how to ensure that women know and make use of the tangible benefits of legal reforms, especially in areas where customary law is predominant, such as in access to land.
The Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) seeks to fill these complex knowledge gaps. Maintained by the Africa Region Gender Practice in partnership with other World Bank units, donors, NGOs and researchers across the globe, the Lab carries out rigorous impact evaluations for initiatives with an explicit or implicit gender perspective (For instance, an intervention focused on agriculture may still display effects on household labor decisions, education, or women’s voice within the household).
GIL’s approach is based on research that builds evidence to determine what works and what does not, and why. Moreover, GIL’s work is designed to go beyond the “black box” approach of some earlier impact evaluations by testing and comparing and contrasting the effectiveness of competing potential interventions to identify those that achieve the deepest, most cost-effective impact. By working directly with a project team to develop and test sets of alternatives, we will be able to examine the effects of interventions that work within existing gender norms relative to those that seek to change gender norms. Take the example of agriculture extension. The government could provide extension for women on the crops that they grow now, but alter the delivery so that it is delivered closer to their home (dealing with their mobility and time constraints) and complement that with subsidies for inputs (dealing with their credit constraints). But it could also provide extension the same way it was provided before and train influential women in how to grow higher value crops that are traditionally male dominated. Which of these works better, at which costs, and in which contexts will be important to assess.
Developing effective policy responses to persistent gender gaps will require experimentation, innovation and learning. GIL actively shares its findings so that project teams and government policymakers are able to use this knowledge to decide whether to undertake or scale-up an intervention. GIL’s active collaboration with leading academic researchers, NGOs and government agencies provides multiple venues for sharing these results – from leading academic journals, to small seminars with key policymakers, to high impact international forums.

LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT: English [Essential]; French [Essential]; Portuguese [Desired]

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