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Doing qualitative field research on gender norms with adolescent girls and their families


Written by Nicola Jones, Fiona Samuels


​Qualitative research is particularly valuable for understanding gender norms that affect adolescent girls, because it allows people’s own perspectives and voices to come through, and gives the researcher a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the complexities involved in studying gender norms. By listening to what girls, their families and community leaders say, researchers can explore how people perceive the norms that pattern lives, and how they are  - or are not – changing. These insights can be invaluable in challenging received wisdom about how gender norms affect adolescent girls in particular contexts.

There is already a great deal of guidance available on the principles and ethics of conducting qualitative research with children and young people. This Research and practice note adds to this body of work by drawing out some key pointers to bear in mind when undertaking qualitative research on gender norms with adolescent girls. It describes a step-by-step process for using four innovative or visual tools based on our experience of researching the impact of gender norms on adolescent girls in Nepal, Uganda and Viet Nam. It reflects on our experience of framing questions around social and gender norms, and links to the tools used throughout.

Fiona Samuels, Nicola Jones, Carol Watson with Sophie Brodbeck