The Perils of Male Bias: Alice Evans replies to yesterday’s ‘Sausagefest’

Yesterday’s post on Stefan Dercon‘s lecture got a lot of hits, but also some slaps for its perceived male bias. In response, Alice Evans (@_alice_evanswho memorably described Stefan’s list of top development thinkers as a ‘sausagefest’) put together this corrective account of women’s scholarship on development.

Across the world, we tend to venerate men as knowledgeable authorities. These gender stereotypes are self-perpetuating: by paying more attention to their ideas and analysis, citing their work more frequently, we reinforce widespread assumptions of male expertise. We also blinker ourselves to alternative perspectives. This is self-defeating – if we’re trying to understand complex problems.

So, upon popular request (well, 3 people), here are five big problems in international development, plus female scholarship to learn from.

  1. Poor Governance: demotivated, despondent bureaucrats, pursuing private interests, rather than public service

In response, the international development community has championed: state cut-backs; anti-corruption initiatives (monitoring receipts); and financial incentives.

However, such measures are not always effective. The latest consensus is that state capabilities are strengthened via learning by doing, enhancing bureaucrats’ autonomy, and conveying appreciation (such as via Rwanda’s imihigo ceremonies).

But this is not new. Two decades ago, Judith Tendler analysed the drivers of improved governance. She found that public services improve when bureaucrats have autonomy and feel appreciated by managers. When the government publicly demonstrated admiration of their work, presenting prizes for good performance, workers felt valued, recognised, and sought to live up to these accolades.

It’s a pity her insights were not previously heeded. Ah, the perils of male bias…

Also superb scholars on governance include Merilee Grindle (critiquing the long list of normative requirements included in the ‘good governance’ agenda), Sue Unsworth (on the need to address the global causes of state fragility, and strengthen collective action); Tania Murray Li, and Yuen Yuen Ang (on directed improvisation).

On the governance of natural resources and collective action failures, try “Governing the Commons” by Nobel Prize winning Elinor Ostrom. [Yet apparently didn’t make the grade for yesterday’s blog..].

  1. Economic Growth

From 1980–98, median per capita income growth in developing countries was 0%. These lost decades reflect the failed ‘The Washington Consensus’. Ah, if only we had heeded Alice Amsden’s insights: on how state-led industrialisation (substituting imports, supporting big firms, enabling economies of scale, but also exercising discipline) can generate jobs, growth and poverty reduction. Fortunately, industrialisation and state coordination is now on the global development agenda. A little bit late, perhaps…

Incidentally, “Asia’s next giant: South Korea and late industrialization” has 9870 citations on Google Scholar, far more than anyone on Stefan Dercon’s list (save Amartya Sen). I’m surprised it was ignored…

Development economics has been further enriched by the rigorous research of Esther Duflo, Rachel Glennerster and Nancy Birdsall. Each have radically transformed how we study, think about, and work to address development problems.

  1. Social Inequalities

A growing body of research indicates two key drivers of women’s empowerment: paid employment outside the home (building self-esteem, forging diverse networks, and collectively questioning patriarchal norms); and social mobilisation (strengthening collective capacities to protest structural inequalities). A real pioneer here is Naila Kabeer: inspiring us all with nuanced, qualitative and quantitative analysis in London and Dhaka (transcending the usual Global North-South silos).

See also Anne MarieGoetz and Rina Sen Gupta’s powerful critique of microfinance; Esther Boserup’s landmark text on “Woman in Economic Development”; Sylvia Chant’s work, challenging assumptions of deprivation in “Women Headed Households”; Maxine Molyneux’s “Mobilisation without Emancipation”; Frances Stewart on “Horizontal Inequalities” (how inequalities between culturally formed groups lead to violence and instability); Emily Oster on “The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women’s Status in India”; Ania Loomba on Postcolonialism; Anne McClintock on gender, race, class and imperialism; Andrea Cornwall, Frances Cleaver and Sarah White on whether ‘participation’ (a erstwhile donor fad) is necessarily transformative; and Bina Agarwal on “Gender and Land Rights in South Asia”.

Additionally, for those interested in why marginalised citizens might join a violent, fascist movement, I’d strongly recommend Atreyee Sen’s “Shiv Sena Women: Violence and Communalism in a Bombay Slum”. A superb ethnography – through which you might reflect on parallels between the US and Hindu Right.

  1. Collective Resistance

In a time of growing authoritarianism, nativism, and inequality, we urgently need to learn about collective resistance. We need to understand the slow, incremental and often conflictual processes of social change: how marginalised people gain self-esteem; challenge hitherto unquestioned inequalities; demanding redistribution and recognition. Women’s scholarship is invaluable here.

Big hitters include Sonia Alvarez (“Engendering Democracy in Brazil”); Deborah Yashar (“Contesting Citizenship in Latin America: The Rise of Indigenous Movements”); Nancy Postero (“Now We are Citizens”); Pun Ngai (“Made in China”); Ching Kwan Lee (“Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt”).

  1. Decolonising Development

This must be a priority for us all: to end these normative visions of ‘good governance’; to stop pretending we (white, educated folk in the Global North) know best; and start learning from more diverse perspectives.

With 17,220 citations, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s essay “Can the Subaltern Speak” is the pioneering work here. See also Lila Abu-Lughod (“Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving”).

These insights have greatly enhanced my analysis. We ignore women’s scholarship at our peril.

So go on then, who’s she forgotten?

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41 Responses to “The Perils of Male Bias: Alice Evans replies to yesterday’s ‘Sausagefest’”
  1. Ben Ramalingam

    Thank you Alice! Although Duncan, I am really not sure that ‘who’s she missed’ is the right final sentence for this blog! The idea that the focus should now be on Alice’s lack of comprehensiveness is in fact part of the problem…

    Might I suggest a poll, drawing just on the responses I read on Twitter yesterday:

    Why are we in this situation and what should be done?
    1. Development scholarship has a built-in male bias towards powerful white men, and they should be working to address this, starting with Stefan and Duncan, on this blog.
    2. What we need is good summaries of female contributions, and please let’s save the hagiographies for future lists of influential men
    3. Are there influential women thinkers in development? Could some women rustle up a *comprehensive* list – I would find it SO helpful.
    4. It’s just a reflection of the market – only a fool blames the mirror if the reflection is not to their liking.

    • Duncan Green

      Don’t think a poll works so well for this Ben, but definitely open to more posts along these lines. Some other topics worth exploring
      – is male bias in development scholarship greater in economics than other disciplines? (I suspect the answer is yes, but it wd be interesting to see some analysis)
      – have we got right balance of concern btw male bias and northern bias (a point raised several times in yesterday’s twitter storm)
      – is the bias greater among popular non fiction than, say, fiction, or other media, or general networking?
      – is it changing at all and if so, in which areas?

      This has been a slightly bruising, but very educational exchange overall – huge thanks to Alice for engaging so brilliantly (seizing a critical juncture?). One personal challenge is to retain a relaxed, flippant tone on the blog – I absolutely refuse to go into defensive-risk-management-cover-every-possible-base, preferably with lots of jargon, mode (standard practice for a lot of NGOs), hence the Q at the end of the post. The day this blog gets too careful and worthy is the day it dies.

      • Dina Pomeranz

        Absolutely nothing wrong with having a relaxed, informal tone on the blog. Interesting that the fear is that if we respect women or other underrepresented groups, this means the blog has to become defensive and full of jargon. Also interesting that the sentence asks about who she forgot, not who else the original authors forgot. Food for thought.

        • Maya Forstater

          I agree Dina – the alternative is not to be defensive, worthy and full of jargon – but just to notice how we present and respond to different kinds of people, and the habits and biases of who is given importance and respect.

          Duncan, you ended your first post with “And over to you – who’s he missed out?”. Its not more formal or jargon-ladden than “So go on then, who’s she forgotten?”, but it feels like more respect is being given (“missed out” suggests that if he left people off his list it was through judgement, which readers can agree or disagree with, whereas “forgotten” suggests she must be at fault). If you had drafted “So go on then, who’s he forgotten?” in the first post you’d probably just notice that it sounds wrong and edit it (perhaps without even thinking about why).

          • Duncan Green

            blimey, I am feeling distinctly over-interpreted – are people going to start writing essays about the difference between ‘forgotten’ and ‘missed out’?!

          • Ed Pomfret

            +1 to what Maya, Sarah and Ben say here. Exactly right. Being careful about the biases you bring to the relaxed, informal tone is actually central to the whole debate that kicked off on Twitter yesterday. It’s not about writing essays about forgetting or missing out (although there could be a huge amount written on exactly that, the biases behind that choice of words and perceptions that that wording create). It’s about being aware of what you write, the words you choose, how it could be received and what it suggests about your character and biases.

          • Duncan Green

            I get that, but how to be spontaneous, write fast (I have an average of 1-2 hours for a blogpost), be accessible etc, while simultaneously examining every choice of word (missed out v forgotten!) for potential bias slipping in? How much self awareness and self scrutiny is enough? Tbh, I don’t think it can be done, which may be why so few people read most NGO blogs. And why some activists have a reputation for being humourless holier-than-thou types. Surely better to take risks, and when bias or other mistakes appear, correct them in public? Isn’t that more compatible with learning from failure, adaptation, iteration etc that we all go on about elsewhere?

          • Maya Forstater

            No Duncan. No one is going to start writing essays about the difference between ‘forgotten’ and ‘missed out’.

            But yes, these little things add up (as I argued for example the fact that Alice Evans is a lecturer in Development Studies at Kings College is just as relevant to readers as the fact that Stefan Dercon is Prof at the Blavatnik School of Government, but Alice instead gets introduced as someone who said a funny word on Twitter.

            As someone who thinks and writes about power and politics. I’m sure you understand that the professional world is full of people subtly and less subtly (and very often without even thinking about it) telling women, people of colour, those without an Oxbridge/Ivy league background etc…, to pipe down, or signalling others to pay less attention to them. Those at the receiving end have to continually decide when to say something and when to let it ride (for fear of sounding chippy, whiney, not having a sense of humour etc..) and do the mental work of not internalising the view that their contribution is less valuable than those who get more automatic respect . The option not to over-interpret, and to be relaxed and flippant about this stuff is only an open to you when you are in a position of greater power.

          • Duncan Green

            Thought-provoking comment Maya. Agree in principle, but when I am linking to Alice’s CV, and knowing that she has recently written other posts on FP2P, am I somehow belittling her by not spelling it out in the text as well? How wd I know? Weird when one brings this back to such a personal level that it’s about my unconscious thought processes as I upload a blog late at night. Deep…… But I’m standing by humour, satire and light heartedness – read the Guardian if you want to see great women doing both brilliantly.

            Another striking process, which I may write about next week, is how this gets layered up on twitter, with comments upon comments and spin upon spin, so that the initial posts recede in the distance, and I ended up being characterized as launching a ‘counter attack’ against the critics of the sausagefest – defy anyone to identify where I actually did that. Au contraire. Hey ho, ‘aggy’ social media reminds me of Gordon Gecko – ‘if you want a friend, get a dog’.

        • Maya Forstater

          Glad to have provoked thoughts Duncan. However on Twitter you have characterised criticism of your response to Alice as “selective quotes from trolls”. – and I suspect you might mean me? (am I right?)

          I don’t think I have unfairly selectively quoted you in order to provoke a reaction from people. I think the reason my thread got so many RTs was because it articulated what many readers felt was so ‘off’ in your original post and your responses to Alice.

          In the spirit of learning, adaptation, and iteration and at the risk of being told I’m ‘overanalysing you’ (I have a feeling I can’t win here – is there a happy medium between selective quoting and overanalysing?) I’ll try to spell out some of the signs you missed, but that lots of people noticed.

          You are an influential, senior opinion former in the UK development sector. So is Stefan Dercon. Alice is a young academic.

          When she challenged your account of Stefan’s lecture with the hashtag #sausagefest she also immediately made constructive suggestions of female thinkers who had been ignored.

          You shot back with a question about what the issue was (making it her problem, and her responsibility to explain).Then you asked “want to write an alternative top 10?”

          Alice said that she’d happily contribute, but she emphasised that she should not have to (i.e. when a women points out a problem why is she asked to fix it?).

          You ignored this and said “Is that a yes? ;-)”

          Then you jumped straight into telling her how to do it. In public. Without her having asked for your advice (or agreed to do it at that point). What you asked her to do was emulate your approach/Stefan’s presentation “If so cld you write a pen portrait/critical summary in today’s post, rather than a hagiography?”

          Alice did something else. She did something extraordinary. She didn’t copy Stefan’s style or do a simple top 10 of ‘the best female development thinkers’. She stuck her neck out and wrote a cracking article which highlighted the contribution of many women to development thinking on five substantive questions. And she turned it around in a few hours.

          As you have emphasised your blog is informal, and conversational. You often cue readers about who they should pay attention to, or be sceptical of, using descriptors like ‘guru’ or by giving some background on the people you feature. The piece about Stefan’s presentation was full of glowing description and is careful to include details of the three different professional homes he has. Rather than just saying ‘here is a link to the slides’ you use it as an opportunity to say that he made the slides available because he’s an ‘open source kind of guy’.

          In contrast, your introduction to Alice’s article is flat and caveated (“Alice Evans has put together a ‘corrective account of women’s scholarship on development” in response to “perceived male bias” in the Top 10 Thinkers article). You say nothing about her. Nothing about who she is and what she does. Nothing about how gracious she was to write the article. No acknowledgement of her point that she shouldn’t have to. Nothing about how amazingly quickly she turned it around. Nothing about how good it is. In fact the only thing you say to give it context is that it is in response ‘Stefan’s post’ (later corrected to your post).

          And then you bookended it with the challenge “So go on then, who’s she forgotten?”

          When you published the post, the first comment from someone else you retweeted was this one: “Trust @fp2p to land on his feet, irrespective of the reaction to his posts. Here is another great list of influencers, this time women, and their work.”

          (Seriously. What?? She writes an article about how men are venerated and women ignored. He gets tagged and praised. Her @name doesn’t get mentioned. He retweets the praise).

          This is what people noticed. They noticed that Alice was brave to challenge two senior men in her field. They noticed that she went out of her way to be constructive and accommodating at every stage. And they noticed the way you responded to and presented her.

          I know the internet tends to pile on which makes us all defensive, and you think Im being ‘aggy’ (aggressive?) and mean – but try replaying the scenario; imagine the person you were asking to write a guest blog post was someone with high status (statistically likely to be a senior, white male….). Would you have treated them in the same way?

          Yes its about unconscious thought processes….about noticing the respect and attention we give to some kinds of people (along all dimensions: race, sex, class etc…) compared to those who tend to be pushed around or ignored (and its about the effect this has on people who are considering whether they can be brave enough to put themselves forward into this arena). Its not about social media vs IRL. Or being relaxed vs formal. Or being funny or not.

          The fact that the Top 10 bestselling development authors are mainly white men is an emergent phenomena which reflects these kinds of unconscious thought processes. And the fact that they are so hard to recognise, even in a discussion on exactly this topic suggests I think suggests we should take more care.

          Thanks for the opportunity for reflection.

      • Heather Marquette

        By coincidence, I had an email from the fantastic – and yet depressing – website for ‘Women Who Also Know Stuff’, set up to provide a database of political scientists who are women and also ‘know stuff’ to make it easier for panel organisers, journalists etc to find them –

        I also coincidentally had a FB message that day from an Irish playwright friend (and a woman) about the furore over Irish poetry anthologies being dominated by male authors –

        It’s not a bias unique to development economics, but it’s sad that a field that should be more aware of inequalities than it wasn’t picked up. Not surprising, in my experience (and that of countless others), but still sad.

        I absolutely don’t think there’s the right ‘balance’ between male bias and northern bias, because biases shouldn’t be balanced. What does that actually mean? We can only do something about bias against women but not today because today we’re working on northern bias? Biases are reinforcing. There should be attention paid to northern bias, but without keeping the focus on women there’s the risk that there’d be a bit more geographic diversity, but women – especially women from the south – would continue to be marginalised. Even in the original blog post, there were 4 men outside the north (if we count Turkey, 3 if we don’t) and only 2 women (1 from the south). With 6 white, northern men, that’s not bad diversity for geography but shockingly undiverse on gender. It would’ve been nice if we could’ve paused a bit longer to think about that before moving away from women…

  2. Arnaldo Pellini

    I think is good to end with the question you pose. It helps me with remembering important books and literature I have come across through the years. Here is one important thinking in the area of evaluation and critically thinking about how development is done: Carol H. Weiss, Evaluation: Methods for Studying Programs and Policies.

  3. Kirsty Newman

    Thanks Alice for a great contribution – and for this is a really interesting debate. It has made me reflect on the people who influence me and how they compare to the people considered broadly ‘influential’ in the field. My experience is that the people I really value as being informed, thought-provoking ‘thinkers’ are pretty split across genders – no big surprise there. But that those people who rise into senior – and therefore influential – positions are likely to fit a particular mould. That includes tending to be male but also tending to be from more privileged – and white – backgrounds and tending to have a certain type of personality. It drives me bonkers to be honest – because I see the people who become senior who tend to conform to the establishment vision of what gravitas looks like – and they get credit for being influencers when there are heaps of people of both genders who are just as – if not more – smart and insightful but who don’t fit that image. So, in terms of people to add to the list, I could add a whole load of influential – to me – women but none of you would have heard of them – and that is the problem! I’m not sure what the solution is – it is a self-perpetuating issue where those who are at the top, value and champion others who are similar to them. Incidentally, without excusing his sausagefest list, I worked for years with Stefan and he was quite counter-cultural within DFID in that he really valued people who were thoughtful and smart – and was therefore very supportive of lots of fantastic women who tended to be viewed by others in senior positions as too bossy/outspoken/’un-ladylike’!!

    • @sjarnvig

      It would indeed be a bittersweet victory if we managed to sort the gender ratio but failed not to reproduce the substantial/unsubstantial ratio in the original list.
      This article argues that:

      there is no denying that women’s path to leadership positions is paved with many barriers including a very thick glass ceiling. But a much bigger problem is the lack of career obstacles for incompetent men, and the fact that we tend to equate leadership with the very psychological features that make the average man a more inept leader than the average woman. The result is a pathological system that rewards men for their incompetence while punishing women for their competence, to everybody’s detriment

  4. Rajesh Venugopal

    Thanks Duncan and Alice. I think Stefan’s list wasn’t a definitive list of development thinkers (and don’t think we should take it as such) – it’s what the DFID chief economist listed as an intro to the foreign aid debate with the most high profile writers on that topic (which is what DFID is all about). That is the state of play in that realm. It shows you what economists read these days. Yes it doesn’t have many women, and a lot of it is vapid or silly like the Easterley vs Sachs vs Moyo debate. But that’s where that debate rests, and all of us who teach in development know that there’s more to development than the aid debate and quickly skip beyond that to different writers and topics.

    • Charles Boechler

      ditto… and thank you Rajesh… perfect summation of the matter and a bright light in otherwise disappointing distraction of some very intelligent people. As Mr. Venugopal so aptly points out, ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ but especially don’t miss the moral of the story which all here seem to have heard clearly. That is to say that in reaching the masses, which is critical if we truly hope to do development differently, there are current and genuine realities, barriers, and opportunities. The most significant one may be the slow but growing awareness by non-academics like myself of the almost 50 name drops (30 by @_Alice_Evans alone – my reading list now floweth over to 2020). Necessary shifts in development will be informed by these brilliant thinkers BUT will come at the effort of the kindhearted many, not the elite few.

    • Max Connerie

      Stefan’s list wasn’t about the foreign aid debate. The lecture was titled ‘Big Ideals, Big Egos and Big Thinkers in development’. I thought his list was crap, because it omitted so many interesting big thinkers, including so many of the women listed above. His list certainly didn’t represent the most high profile writers or the state of play, nor what ‘economists read these days’. And rather than not having ‘many’ women, Stefan’s list didn’t have *any* single women authors — that’s Alice’s point. It’s completely weird that in briefing an incoming Minister anyone would miss out the ideas of Alice Amsden or Elinor Ostrom, for example, or for that matter Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Sure, Stefan wasn’t definitively listing all development thinkers; only his top five. But it’s obviously significant that they were all men, and that the approach implied is that of a typical male neoclassical economist: technocratic, universalising and goal-orientated, with no understanding of power.

  5. Asif Dowla

    I big time YES for Naila Kabeer. Every time, I read anything by her, I learn something new. I, especially like her ability to be nuanced and have an open mind. I am biased, of course.
    I feel that Ester Boserup’s insight about how agriculture determined the gender role is revolutionary. That alone explains gender-based discrimination in many societies. Here is a link to a modern version of that idea with bell and whistles attached.

  6. Rafael Mitchell

    Great rejoinder to yesterday’s post! The thematic headings are useful. To ‘#3 Social Inequalities’ can be added Pauline Rose whose work over the last 20 years has done a lot to expose educational inequalities around the world and promote equitable access and learning.

  7. Iou

    Thank you for this important corrective. What is particularly vital is that your list of female writers is not limited to white female writers. Race is another axis among which we often fail to appreciate diverse voices when we sit down to count up our “greats.” This is so pervasive that it even affects anthropology, which, perhaps more than any other discipline, prides itself on breaking down social divisions, fighting against inequality, and taking into serious consideration a wide range of perspectives:

  8. Tim Budge

    A great list. Thanks Alice Evans. Under 4. Collective Resistance also add Erica Chenoweth, Why Civil Resistance Works and under 5. Decolonising Development add anything by Bagele Chilisa

  9. Pete

    A sausagefest!

    Do point out the absence of women in the list and analyse the reasons why, but please stay respectful and don’t resort to a collective noun based on the shape of their genitals – that just looks like misandry.

  10. Alice Evans

    Hi Pete,

    I don’t think ‘sausage’ is a pejorative term.

    ‘Sausagefest’ merely highlights the predominance of a particular social group.

    Quite innocent.

    Indeed, given the frustration many women feel in seeing men’s work uncritically valorised, you may think it quite restrained…

    • Cathy Shutt

      “Indeed, given the frustration many women feel in seeing men’s work uncritically valorised, you may think it quite restrained…”


      I love the term and had not seen it before.

      From now on in the terms ‘sausagefest’ & ‘white/northern sausagefest’ are likely to be as symbolically powerful as ‘manel’.

      Hurrah for Alice!

  11. Sarah Tielemans

    Hello Pete -To respond to your question if men are more fragile “or is it specific to Duncan” – certainly it is not specific to Duncan. I would encourage you to read Robin DiAngelo’s piece titled “White Fragility” as she does an incredible job of describing fragility and its dangers. As oppression is intersectional, I am here replacing race related terms with gender terms: “This insulated environment of [male] privilege builds [male] expectations for [gender] comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate…stress.”

    • Pete

      Intersectionality is context specific and I don’t agree that sexism among middle class men in the UK can be equated with racism in the USA.

      I would be surprised if fragility wasn’t affected by gender (both biological and cultural) but I wouldn’t expect it to be a significantly more male attribute. Fragility will also be affected by many other factors such as age and wealth and more temporary factors like the behaviour of your children that day, the pressures of work, health, state of relationships, traffic, the weather….

      Warning Duncan that specifically male aspects of his identity are likely to prevent his critical reflection look unjustifiable and sexist to me.

  12. Thanks – all very interesting. I read parts of “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving” as a result, (which included two striking phrases: “women of cover” and “white men trying to rescue brown women from brown men”) and it raised this question: can anyone justify any sort of intervention? How do we know that someone else will be made more happy or less unhappy (persecuted, tortured, etc) if we attempt to intervene? And my answer is that we don’t know, for sure, but we also don’t know the opposite, with certainty. That is, we don’t know, with complete knowledge, that intervention will not help.

    In some cases, therefore, we have to take the risk, we have to intervene, because to refrain from action could lead to a worse outcome. The challenge, as I see it, is to choose where to act, and where to refrain.

  13. Viv

    If it didn’t cross Duncan’s mind (even on a quick blog post) that no women were included, wouldn’t a mea culpa of an important personal bias (“Gender did not occur to me when I posted this list”) be more appropriate than a defence of “unconscious thought processes”? As a young, female development professional it is incredibly disappointing both that even a perfunctory consideration of gender did not occur, but further that this unconscious bias is then justified as “light”, and stating that not being too “careful” is necessary to write a readable blog.

    We all have unconscious biases, and are responsible for challenging them. Especially those with a platform, and with a huge amount of voice and power.

    • Duncan Green

      Perhaps you should read the blog post before passing judgement Viv. In it I said ‘Can there really be so few women or people from the South among the top tier?’, clearly inviting people to add names. Oh, and just in terms of getting your facts straight, Esther Duflo and Dambisa Moyo are both in Stefan’s list, (and yes, I realize that is hardly adequate)

  14. Thanks to Alice for this great list, which has given me some new things to read.

    We’re really lucky to get lots of great speakers at the Development Policy Centre (even though we sometimes feel so. far. away. being in Australia!!) and these are some of the women thinkers on development who have really jumped out at me and impressed me (though definitely not an exhaustive list and I know there are some I have forgotten).

    – Frances Seymour on forests and climate change
    – Kitty van de Heijden on sustainable development/resource management
    – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke on the future of the multilateral development banks
    – Jeni Klugman, amazing economist (and an Aussie) who focuses particularly on gender equality
    – Two excellent women economists hailing from Indonesia who both have big picture ideas on economic development: Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Mari Elka Pangestu
    – Meg Taylor, who heads the Pacific Islands Forum, is also an extremely smart female development economist from our region in a very challenging gig
    – Helen Clark! She gave a keynote on the SDGs at a conference last year and I thought to myself ‘I think Helen Clark is possibly the only person who really knows what we need to do to achieve these….’
    – When I studied in the US for a stint, Deborah Brautigam was a wonderful and impressive teacher and has written perhaps the definitive book on Chinese aid in Africa
    – Inge Kaul hasn’t spoken at the centre, but one of my colleagues interviewed her for the blog/podcast and her thinking on global public goods is so important
    – We have Nancy Birdsall speaking at the Australasian Aid Conference next month (shameless plug) and I cannot wait!

    Lots of podcasts of these talks can be found on our Soundcloud. I realise the original post was more about books, but I wonder if there are systemic reasons why not many of the ‘big books’ are written by women, as was hinted at in the discussion in that post. There’s so many other ways to dive into thinking about development though besides Sachs and Easterly, especially when we have so many other mediums now like blogs and podcasts.

  15. Duncan Green

    Thanks everyone, this has been a hugely important, productive, but quite emotionally demanding, conversation. Both to let myself calm down before some more sober reflection, and because I have this annoying thing called a day job, I’m going to step back for a week or two, processing the many valuable insights and comments, and reflecting on what they imply for my future ways of working/thinking/writing. Challenging and exciting. Watch this space. But of course, feel free to keep on going with comments etc!

  16. Duncan – it is coming up to 6 months since all of this – at the time you said you’d reflect and return in a couple of weeks …. Did you ever get round to writing your thoughts?

    Of course a lot has happened since then, bringing the issue of power relations between (junior) women and (senior) men in aid into national spotlight. Maybe the bigger #aidtoo developments meant there was never a good time to write on this relatively quieter twitter/blog debate?

    But on the other hand, as you said the debate was hugely important and productive, with valuable insights and comments, and a chance to reflect on future ways of working/thinking/writing. And in light of the wider issues that seems all the more important.

  17. Whitney Banyai-Becker

    Duncan – I would love to hear some of your follow-up reflections to this blog and its comments. Perhaps a year anniversary post to reflect? I do strongly encourage you to share some of your thoughts now having had ample time for sober reflection.
    As a new follower to this blog, I only clicked on these links yesterday in Duncan’s recap list. I happened to read them chronologically and was equally dismayed at the all too expected sausagefest in the first post of influencers. To my delight, the next blog I read was Alice’s reply.
    To Alice – Thank you so much for the desperately-needed balance and retort. To Maya – Thank you so much for taking the time and energy to put to words many of my own thoughts as I went through both blogs entirely unbeknownst to the comment convo I would find next.
    I echo your hopes in another reply from Duncan. As a young, woman postgrad student (who has been equally appalled, yet somehow not surprised at the academic gender inequality within international development), I eagerly await to learn how you, Duncan, might have taken this opportunity to reflect on your own privilege and power in this context.