Why we think peer research is vital

By Georgie, Young Women's Trust • 13 November 2020

In this blog Georgie Whiteley our Research Lead shares why peer research is vital not only to the work we do but also to the wider charity sector. 

We believe that young women should be at the heart of all our work. We know that young women have the experience, ability and drive to create the changes we need to make an equal society for women. Our job is to facilitate this, that’s why we are doing peer research.

Peer research is research that is led and carried out by people with lived experience of the topics being studied. At Young Women’s Trust we train young women with experience of low pay or no pay to direct and conduct our research, in paid researcher positions.

Our peer researchers work with our team to

  • Design the research questions
  • Design the methodology and questionnaires
  • Find participants and interview them
  • Analyse the data
  • During this process we’ve learnt just how much of a difference peer research can make to our research as well as the policies, campaigns and services we design.

Why are we doing Peer Research?

Powerful insights

Often researchers are people with privilege, whether that means being white, male or wealthy in an interview situation, this can mean young women on low or no pay feel uncomfortable speaking openly about their experiences for fear of being judged or misunderstood.

When a young woman is interviewed by another young woman like her, she is more likely to share openly and honestly. The peer researcher is more likely than a traditional interviewer to ask relevant questions and ask them sensitively. This means that as researchers, we can learn more than we ever would in a traditional interview.

Reaching young women whose voices are rarely heard

Our young women researchers are living in diverse communities across the UK. As trusted members of these communities, they are in a good position to engage young women who might not hear about research opportunities or be willing to speak to a professional researcher.

As part of our forthcoming study into how young women have been affected by the coronavirus crisis, we had the privilege to interview young women whose voices are rarely heard – giving enormous insight, which we will be sharing later this month.

Giving young women power

As a feminist organisation, we want our research to give power to young women. Traditional research can be extractive, taking information from young women and giving little in return.

Our peer research programme is the opposite. We aim to provide paid employment for young women and the training and support network to do research in the workplace and in their own communities and to use it to create change.

Our young women researchers have shown us all this and more. We believe peer research has the potential to revolutionise research at Young Women’s Trust and in the sector more widely. That’s why we are putting peer research at the heart of all our work.

Want to find out more? Then read our latest research reports.