This article is based on a study of the experiences of women chief executives in British local government. Our emphasis will be on our experiences of carrying out the study, and, in particular, on encountering and working with the political aspects of our research. Following a brief outline of our main findings, we review some of the dangers of “doing research” on women. We continue by describing our first encounters with the politics of gender research – the voices of discouragement that questioned the need for the research. We then outline our attempts to understand more about how our relations with each other as a pair of researchers enabled us to surface the political properties of our research. The article discusses the role of reflexivity in maintaining awareness of researcher bias, and how this might affect our analysis of the experiences of women in the system being studied. Next, we discuss how action researchers inevitably become part of a political system that is characterised by different actors holding different aspirations for research outcomes, and argue that collaborative forms of research are necessary if one is to listen to the range of voices that stakeholders represent. We tackle the question about how researchers may “let go” of research of this kind given their political attachments to the topic. Finally, we conclude that spelling out the dilemmas inherent in research of this kind is more likely to achieve results that are well grounded in the political and organisational realities of participants’ experiences.
CitationDownload as .RIS
MCB UP Ltd
Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited