How to do gender analysis in health systems research – Significance of data collectors’ gender

This blog post is part of a series looking at key questions related to gender analysis within health systems research. In this post we explore the significance of data collectors’ gender during quantitative data collection.

RinGs Steering Committee

27 October 2015

On 8 September 2015 Research in Gender and Ethics (RinGs): Building Stronger Health Systems held a cross-RPC webinar on “How to do gender analysis within health systems research”. The webinar involved 26 members from Future Health SystemsReBUILD, and RESYST.

Webinar participants asked some very interesting and relevant questions about how gender analysis can be incorporated into health systems research. In this blog series, we discuss some of the issues raised and we would be interested in your viewpoints as well. Please let us know in the comments section below!


Q: How important is it to consider the gender of data collectors while developing a data collection team for quantitative data? Female participant, India


A: It is important to consider the gender of data collectors for both quantitative and qualitative research as it has the potential to negatively bias the data collected. While it is true that qualitative data methods often involve a much more personal relationship with respondents compared to quantitative data methods due to the nature of one-on-one or group interviews, rapport and trust are a core part of both quantitative and qualitative data collection processes.

Quantitative methods that involve direct contact with participants, such as home-based or community surveys where data collectors ask specific and direct questions to respondents. In such instances, the gender of data collectors may impact upon participants’ willingness to disclose personal or sensitive information.

In cases where a survey is left with a respondent to fill out on their own, while data collectors may feel that respondents are able to provide anonymized answers, respondents themselves may not feel this if data collectors personally return to collect the completed survey. It is therefore important for researchers to understand the context in which they are collecting data and whether male or female data collectors would be the most appropriate to ensure that the data collected is accurate and unbiased.

Ensuring same sex data collectors does not preclude gender bias. In qualitative research, the principle of reflexivity, where the positionality of researchers is examined and where data collection processes and analysis is discussed by research teams is critical to further understanding potential bias or different interpretations of the research context.


To view a recording of the webinar or the webinar presentation slides, click here.

For more information about RinGs visit our website.