“Before they thought these are theoretical stories of women”: Exploring tensions between conformation and critique of gender training for agricultural research teams

Gender is embedded in the sociotechnical process, shaped by context, power and agency (Wajcman, 2010; Blake and Hanson, 2005), making it integral to conceptualization, development and access to agricultural innovation (Schut, et al., 2015; Doss and Morris, 2001). Gender training as an act, process and tool must also be shaped by this understanding. Capacity building is a critical entry point for gender integration in agricultural development (Njuki, 2016), but questions of who is trained and how have received little attention. Gender training has long garnered seething critique from academics and practitioners alike. Mukhopadhyay (2014) describes “palatable” short training events, Mukhopadhyay and Wong (2007) observe gender training programs that focus on skills while avoiding challenging behavior and attitudes. Gender training has become a “panacea for gender equality”, delivering “neutral” definitions, rather than an opportunity for self-reflection and engagement (Ahikire, 2007). Developing consciousness of gender inequalities and how they are socially constructed is critical to gender training in agriculture (Escobar and Puskur, 2014), so that researchers are exposed to the root causes of gender inequality and become active agents of change towards just and equitable societies. Yet we see parallels to Mukhopadhyay’s (2014) “palatable” training events: gender training programs targeting agricultural researchers that lead to “churning out of half-baked gender practitioners” (Mangheni et al, 2019). This session brings together diverse voices of experience and critique of gender training, with a focus on gender training for agricultural research teams through an interactive panel and collective visioning session.


Hale Ann Tufan, Cornell University, USA


  • Carolina Camacho Villa, University of Lincoln, UK
  • Carolyn Sachs, Penn State University, USA
  • Josephine Ahikire, Makerere University, Uganda
  • Krista Jacobs, Landesa, USA