Gender and Decision-making in Natural Resource Management
Project Leader: Kiri Staples, Master’s Candidate at the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan
Update – Project completed
Staples, Kiri; Natcher David . Gender, Decision Making, and Natural Resource Co-management in Yukon. Arctic, [S.I.], v. 68, n. 3, p. 356-366, Aug. 2015. ISSN 1923-1245. Available at: <http://arctic.journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/arctic/index.php/arctic/article/view/4506>
Kiri has completed her Masters of Environment and Sustainability for this research project. You can access the final thesis document published in May, 2014 at http://ecommons.usask.ca/bitstream/handle/10388/ETD-2014-05-1602/STAPLES-THESIS.pdf?sequence=4
Across the Canadian North, co-management boards have become a central part of natural resource management. The purpose of these institutions, based on agreements between Aboriginal, territorial and federal governments and natural resource users, is to manage human uses of natural resources in more sustainable ways by sharing responsibility for decision-making between a diverse range of interests. Despite this objective, a recent study found that in northern Canada, many of these boards have a limited number of female members. Of the 100 co-management board members currently in the Yukon Territory, only 18 are female (Natcher, 2013). In light of this condition, important questions emerge as to how effective these institutions are at involving women in natural resource management decision-making. This project will attempt to answer some of these questions.
This research aims to better understand the relationship between gender and decision-making within natural resource management. It will focus specifically on co-management boards with jurisdiction in the Yukon and will include those that operate at the community level (i.e. renewable resource councils) as well as those at the territorial and regional level (i.e. Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board). Through surveys and semi-structured interviews, the project will explore how male and female board members participate in decision-making and whether gender influences this process and its outcomes. Because there are so few women represented on co-management boards, it will focus on the experiences of female board members. However, it is important to recognize that “gender” involves both men and women, and discussions with male board members will be an important part of the project as well.
There are four questions that this research will ask:
- What are women’s past and current experiences in participating in decision-making on co-management boards in the Yukon? How do board members perceive gender in relation to effective participation and decision-making?
- Are there obstacles that women face in gaining voice in decision-making on co-management boards? If so, what are they and are they different from obstacles that male board members face? What strategies do board members use to overcome these obstacles?
- Are there ways that women influence natural resource decision-making outside of their position on co-management boards? If so, what are these ways of influencing decision-making and are they accessed by men as well?
- Have (1), (2) and (3) affected the decisions made by the co-management boards? If so, how?
The contribution that this project intends to make includes both academic and practical aspects of natural resource management. At an academic level, the project will begin to fill current gaps in knowledge around the role of gender within the natural resources sector, an area where only limited research has been done in the context of the Canadian North. It may also provide direction for future areas of research in the Yukon and other northern regions. At a practical level, this work has the potential to provide a better understanding of what board members think about effective decision-making. At the same time, it will attempt to highlight barriers to participation that board members, in particular female board members, experience within co-management boards. Finally, it aims to make recommendations on ways to make decision-making more effective, based on the experiences and perspectives of board members. Furthering our understanding of these issues related to natural resource management is particularly relevant given the rapidly changing social and biological environment of northern Canada.
Timeline: September 2012 to June 2014
Year 1 (2012-2013): ReSDA
Year 2 (2013-2014): SSHRC
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ReSDA Research Presentations in Whitehorse YT on “Understanding Gender, Decision-making and Natural Resource management” There will be two different but complementary presentations given by Kiri Staples (MES Candidate, School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan).
- Science Community of Practice (SCOPe) Lunch and Learn Session – Wednesday May 14th from 12:00 to 1:00 PM at the Executive Council Office boardroom. This presentation will focus on the development of the project, the experiences and lessons learned from the process and some ideas for best practices for future researchers. SCOPe Lunch and Learn Poster
- Yukon Research Centre (YRC) Research Presentation – Thursday May 15th from 12:00 to 1:00 PM at Yukon Lecture Hall (Room A2206). The second presentation will highlight the research and the results, looking at our understanding of gender and the way that decisions are made within natural resource management institutions. YRC Research Presentation Poster
See attached posters for more details on the presentations.
For more information contact:
School of Environment and Sustainability
University of Saskatchewan
Tel. (867) 335-7838 or (306) 202-9950
College of Agriculture and Bioresources
University of Saskatchewan
Tel. (306) 966-4045