Feminist science and epistemologies: key issues central to GENNOVATE’s research program. GENNOVATE resources for scientists and research teams
This methodological brief offers a window onto GENNOVATE’s innovative collaborative research initiative to promote gender equality in agricultural and natural resource management. GENNOVATE (‘Enabling gender equality in agricultural and environmental innovation’) has focused on the study of gendered norms, agency, and innovation as means to understand and address women’s and men’s access to, and use and development of, new technologies and agricultural practices. By innovation we include changes in agricultural production, resource management, institutional practices such as those in extension services, entrepreneurial activities, informal learning and exchange, and collective action. GENNOVATE’s challenge in moving toward greater gender equality has been to develop a research strategy that reimagines research about women in agriculture from the bottom-up. Doing so offers new ways to understand and respond to the ongoing gender inequalities that characterize relations in agricultural production, resource access, services, and distribution, and to signal their importance for understanding consumption, nutrition, wellbeing, food security, and other aspects of social change. Central to the discussion that follows is how feminist debates about key methodological and epistemic issues — i.e., issues pertaining to the production of knowledge — have contributed to the GENNOVATE research program. This brief note addresses four central questions: Why is it important to distinguish among epistemology, methodology, and methods? What is feminist epistemology? What can researchers of gender, agriculture, and innovation learn from engaging the contributions of feminist epistemology? What is feminist methodology? What contribution can (and does) feminist methodology make to understanding gender relations in agriculture? How has GENNOVATE integrated lessons from feminist methods and feminist epistemics about gender relations, agricultural change, and innovation?