In 2017, more space for women in our CoPs! We need you…

What place do women have today in our communities of practice (CoPs) ? According to data we have collected, they are a minority. We need to identify what barriers they face in participating. We invite you to help by filling out a survey.

by Kévine Laure Nkaghere

Knowledge is a strategic resource for any organisation, residing in the people who are active within it. It is thus critical to analyse those who join and participate actively in the organisation. This question is equally valid for virtual organisations like the CoPs. Who are the experts sharing knowledge? Who are the people contributing to collective intelligence within the CoPs? Who is facilitating and participating in CoP workshops, collaborative projects, on-line discussions, blogs, etc.? Is everyone really involved? Given our CoPs role in peer-to-peer learning, we need to take stock and answer some important questions, especially knowing that:

  • If we are to attain the SDGs, and SDG 5 specifically, women’s active participation is necessary.
  • Women have needs and views on vital questions that are different than men’s.
  • Career women, especially those reaching the top, are often single, divorced or childless.

You understand my point ; we must take a critical look at the place and the role on women in our own CoPs. Promoting gender balance in knowledge management should not stop at the composition of conference panels.

Women’s place in the CoPs
We put together a small team to study the gender question in our CoPs. First, we took a look at CoP membership and past activities. We found that CoP members were majority male, with a male/female ratio of 1/7 in the Health Service Delivery CoP and 1/3 in the Financial Access to Health Services CoP.). When it comes to online sharing and discussions, and publications like blogs (and comments on blogs), some 90% are by men in the Health Service Delivery CoP. A better male/female balance is seen amongst CoP facilitators (4 men, 5 women) and those participating in collaborative projects (6 to 8).

So you see, we have an issue of gender balance in our CoPs that needs our attention. Our objective is not simply to denounce it, but to understand it. What barriers lead to a situation where women experts are less involved than their male counterparts ? It may seem ambitious, but we are determined to better mobilise women’s participation in 2017. And we are not the only ones facing this kind of challenge, as the work from Research in Gender and Ethics (RinGs) shows.

What do we hope to achieve?
Experience elsewhere shows that to better mobilise women’s participation in 2017 will require following three rules: 1) bringing a gender perspective into the CoPs’ institutional culture, policies, and strategies; 2) improving women’s decison-making and autonomy within the CoPs; and 3) involving men in promoting gender balance within our CoPs. But first, we need to understand our current situation!

The working group I coordinate with Allison G. Kelley developed a methodology to examine the question in two of the largest CoPs – Health Service Delivery and Financial Access to Health Services. An online questionnaire was created to better understand levels of participation, underlying causes and obstacles. The questionnaire is targeted at all (identified) women experts in those two CoPs, and a random sample of men as well. We ask them their opinion, but also their suggestions for improving the gender imbalance in the life of our CoPs. Your participation in this survey will help us to document the real state of affairs when it comes to our CoP member dynamics and to find solutions in the coming months.

What do we need from you?
Have I convinced you to join in with the CoPs to improve the perspectives for half of humanity ? If so, please fill out the questionnaire before the 28 of February. If not, do tell us more about how you see this issue. So if you are part of our sample, you will be receiving an email with a link to the survey – please look for it ! Its important for us all.

Once you have completed the survey, you can also get credit for your participation in the project and get your first badge on the new collaborative platform Collectivity.

We assure you that all responses will remain anonymous and confidential.

We count on your full particiaption!

One comment

  1. je pense que la question du genre dans les CoP est juste le reflet de la population active dans le secteur formel (public et privé). les femmes y sont minoritaires. mais dans le secteur informel, elles sont majoritaires. mais les participants des CoP ne viennent pas en premier de ce secteur. comprendre le phénomène revient à:
    1. poser la question du profil des membres des CoP
    2. interroger les méthodes de travail des CoP. ce sont les TIC.combien de femmes y ont accès?
    c’est un début de réflexion

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