Feminist evaluation emphasizes bringing to light the ways that pervasive gender inequality can distort program design, implementation and outcome. The contributors to this volume provide both theoretical underpinnings for a feminist approach to evaluation and show how to apply this theory in the real world. The first three chapters of this volume present background on feminist theory and philosophy and discuss how it can enhance and transform evaluation theory and practice. The following four chapters focus on practice, presenting case studies of feminist evaluation in action in a range of different settings: an adolescent violence protection program, a womenA's substance abuse program, a sexual health program for gay and bisexual men, and in the context of international development programs. These chapters illustrate the variety of approaches possible under the overall heading feminist evaluation. The concluding chapters directly address the question of the legitimacy of an avowedly feminist approach to evaluation and point the way to future developments.
Although feminist evaluation is sometimes criticized as being too overtly political, the fact is all evaluation has a political dimension. Evaluations and the programs being evaluated are situated in a particular political environment, and this environment as well as the gender, race, class, ability, and sexual orientation of both evaluators and those they work with have a profound impact on the process of evaluation. Feminist evaluators acknowledge these influences at the outset, and make their stance towards them explicit rather than implicit. As evaluators they are committed to accurate, effective measurement of program effectiveness, but they are also committed to a larger goal - increased social justice for the oppressed, particularly but not exclusively women. This is the 96th issue of the Jossey-Bass series New Directions for Evaluation.