Doing qualitative field research on gender norms with adolescent girls and their families

This research and practice note offers practical advice, examples and tools to ensure gender sensitivity in evaluation and research with adolescent girls, with a focus on qualitative research methods.

It describes a step-by-step process for using four innovative or visual tools for researching gender norms. It draws from experience in Ethiopia, Nepal, Uganda, and Vietnam.

The following information was provided to BetterEvaluation by Jessica Noske-Turner as part of the Evaluating C4D Resource Hub.

The Evaluating C4D Resource Hub sits within BetterEvaluation and houses a growing collection of the available guides, toolkits, tools and methods to use for research monitoring and evaluation (R,M&E) of Communication for Development (C4D) initiatives. The Hub is structured around two combined frameworks:

A circle with spokes and a number of graphics set against a rainbow

C4D Evaluation Framework (represented by the circle) is an approach. It describes the values and principles that guide our decisions in C4D.

The BetterEvaluation Rainbow Framework (represented by the rainbows) is a structure. It organises the practical tasks into seven categories or 'clusters' and provides options.

While the resource recommendation below discusses the resource specifically in relation to its usefulness for evaluating C4D within the Evaluating C4D Resource Hub's C4D Framework, this resource may also be of use for people working in other contexts and with different frameworks.

Authors and their affiliation

Fiona Samuels, Nicola Jones and Carol Watson with Sophie Brodbeck

Key features

The resource includes: 

  • Framing questions about gender norms and adolescence
  • Key tools
  • How to use four key research tools
    • Group discussions using community mapping, timelines and body mapping tools
    • Intergenerational trios
    • Marital network analysis
    • Outlier case studies

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

This resource has been identified as particularly useful for evaluating of communication for development. It was identified as part of a research project in collaboration with UNICEF C4D, which had a specific interest in programming for adolescents.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

 This guide is recommended for C4D and related areas of practice, and is consistent with the C4D Evaluation Framework in the following ways:

  • Critical: the guide takes seriously the gender specific considerations that are required for ethical evaluation research and provides practical tools
  • Participation: using this guide will help ensure meaningful participation and voice by adolescent girls in evaluation research.
  • Holistic: the guide suggests open-ended questions and including family members in research to bring a holistic understanding.


Samuels, F., Jone, N., Watson, C. and Brodbeck, S. (2015) Doing qualitative field research on gender norms with adolescent girls and their families. Available at:

'Doing qualitative field research on gender norms with adolescent girls and their families' is referenced in: