UP Open University’s (UPOU) Research Conversations on 11 August 2017 featured Institutionalizing Gender Perspective in Research: Reflexivity as an Alternative, a study by Dr. Primo Garcia, Dean of the Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS); Ms. Luisa Gelisan, University Researcher of the Multimedia Center; and Ms. Paula Muyco, Research Assistant for the Diploma in Social Work and Diploma in Women and Development programs. The study proposes reflexivity as another approach and/or framework to gender research.

According to Dr. Garcia, “reflexivity allows researchers to reflect on their values, beliefs, and assumptions and how it shapes research and the construction or reconstruction of gender structures” which will help them better adjust their responses on more sensitive or intimate issues that arise before, during, and after the research proper.

The talk covered legal instruments to further strengthen gender and development (GAD) efforts such as Former President Fidel V. Ramos’ Memo Order 282 indicating that the academe must mainstream gender in its practices and/or to incorporate GAD issues in its programs and CHED’s Memo Order No. 01 stating that all private and public higher education institutions to mainstream gender in research, administration, extension, and curriculum. As a response to the memo, UPOU institutionalized the Gender-focused Research Grants which are given to proposed studies that have GAD components or are gender-focused after undergoing the review and endorsement process of the research and publication committee. The results of these studies are expected and required to be disseminated in a forum, conference, and colloquium and/or published in a reputable academic publication. Also, UPOU has engendered the institution’s teaching, research, and public service activities to uphold equality in women and men and fulfill and promote women’s human rights and development.

The talk also touched on reactions to the Gender Component requirement in research – these being acquiescence and resistance. Acquiescence was defined as taking a step towards gender mainstreaming, but not enough to facilitate deeper understanding of gender issues and realities, while resistance was defined as force-fitting gender perspective, action or inaction by people, or obvious or implied opposition. These reactions can also be used as parameters to determine the visibility or invisibility of gender in research and the success or failure of gender policies and institutions. To address this issue, reflexivity in research is proposed.

Reflexivity in research can be used (1) to look into how a research topic is anchored on issues of dominance, gender, sexuality, class, age, and race; (2) to determine both perspectives from marginalized sectors and researchers’ values, beliefs, interests, ambitions, and how it shapes research; (3) as a reaction/response to intimate questions and answers brought by doing gender-based research; (4) as an approach to better analyze the process and results of research. In addition to the existing GAD checklist for research, the study presented a framework featuring reflexivity to better guide researchers in pursuing GAD research.

During the forum, a discourse took place as a means to better understand reflexivity as an approach in research. On one hand, there is a concern on the difficulty of achieving reflexivity because academics have been trained and expected to be as objective as possible, throwing away their biases and personal underpinnings and assumptions. On the other, it is believed that academics have a responsibility to acknowledge and practice reflexivity as an alternative approach to gender-based research. With this, there is a call to action for younger and starting researchers to embrace reflexivity and pursue research in such a way that conjuncts the reflexivity in qualitative with the rigor of quantitative research.

To close the conversation, a question-and-answer activity was facilitated where the participants shared the gender component in their research experiences, and what could have been the gender component if there were none considered during the time of research. (Ma. Rosette San Buenaventura)