Gender balance of the CFD phase 1 group

23 November 2020.

Jerry Buckland and Jodi Dueck-Read, CFD Research Team.

Recently we shared some preliminary results on some of the diaries participants’ finances. A phase I participant noted that the majority of the first cohort were women and asked why we thought that was the case?

The team has thought about this quite a bit over the year and we have some ideas. First, participants with families represent their entire family, including male members. Some of our female participants have male partners so that those male financial experiences are included in the diaries research. Second, the finances and financial lives of women have tended to be under-studied, even if their finances, compared to men’s, are more often precarious. Finally, we note that other diaries projects, e.g., the Glasgow Financial Diaries, also had a large female sample, in their case two-thirds of participants were women.[1]

Some of the features of our process that might explain this situation includes,

  • Recruitment: Our recruitment relied on local non-profit organizations, including a popular Winnipeg Income Tax Clinic, for referrals. Based on observations we have the impression that a larger than 50% share of their clients are female. So, an important source of our recruitment may already be disproportionately female.  
  • Retention: Initially our gender balance was more even. We found that retention was more difficult with male participants as compared with female participants. What caused this? We noticed that some men who dropped out seemed to become less interested in the process as they learned more about it. They struggled to see the benefit in participation and found it difficult to stay motivated. This relates to the next point.
  • Socialization: Socialization and gender is a complex thing that may lead men and women to behave differently. Often women, more so than men, are socialized into using and affirming discussion as a tool for decision-making. The CFD is discussion-based and we asked questions about participants’ feelings. This might mean that our meetings were more “friendly” towards women’s participation.

[1] Biosca, Olga. “Yunus Centre for Social Business & Health.” Glasgow, Scotland, 2019.

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