Quantitative Methods and Gender Inequalities
University of Cambridge
The paper will argue that earlier concerns that the feminist agenda is better served by qualitative not quantitative methodology was based on a rather narrow definition of feminism and a somewhat misleading portrayal of quantitative research. Using exemplars, I show how quantitative analysis can help forward our understanding of the processes that underly gender inequalities. The paper draws on ongoing work of the ESRC research priority network on gender inequalities in production and reproduction (GeNet). Quantitative approaches are essential to examine the processes of selection and exclusion that reflect and create gender inequalities as manifest in changing lives and structures. The exemplars also demonstrate the importance of good longitudinal data for investigating the dynamic processes leading to adult inequalities and the different patterns of gendered resource allocation in (re)productive activities. However, when it comes to understanding people’s experiences of discrimination in particular settings, then qualitative research is hugely important for informing and sharpening the way quantitative researchers (some of whom are feminists) count.