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  1. 1

    Improving statistics on women.

    Vanek J; Johnston R; Seltzer W

    Populi. 1985; 12(2):57-66.

    The UN Statistical Office is endeavoring to improve the collection and analysis of statistical information on women. Accurate statistical information is a prerequisite for assessing the current status of sexual inequality in the world and for monitoring responses to policies aimed at removing sexual inequalities. The Statistical Office in conjunction with several other UN agencies is 1) seeking to improve methods of collecting and analyzing information on women, 2) developing a computerized data base for statistical information on women at the international level, 3) conducting workshops for researchers and users of statistical in formation on women, and 4) helping countries develop systems for collecting relevant information. The Office publishes 3 documents on methodological problems. The 1st document, "Sex-based Stereotypes, Sex Biases and National Data System," identifies cultural factors which impede information gathering on women and suggests strategies for overcoming these obstacles. The 2nd publication, "Compiling Social Indicators on the Situation of Women," describes available data on women, discusses how this data can be most effectively used, and identifies indicators which can be developed from the available data. The 3rd document, "Methods for Statistics and Indicators on the Situation of Women," describes and evaluates the concepts and methods currently used in collecting and a analyzing information on women and makes a series of recommendations for improving the collection of data on women. In 1984, the Office began developing a data base for statistical information on women. At the present time, the data is available in a form which can be appropriately utilized only by individuals with sophisticated statistical skills. The information will eventually be available on diskettes. The Office is helping to develop workshops for the dual purpose of informing researchers about the information needs of planners and of teaching potential users, unfamiliar with statistical techniques, how to interpret and effectively use statistical information on women. The 1st workshop was held in early 1985 for participants from 11 English-speaking countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. A 2nd conference of Portuguese-speaking Africa countries is currently being organized, and workshops in other developing regions are anticipated. The UN helps countries develop census and registration systems and expand their survey capabilities. Although the original goal of these activities was not to collect data on women, efforts are now being made to ensure that data collecting instruments include a component for eliciting information on women. The Statistical Office's activities are guided by recommendations made by experts at a UN-sponsored meeting held in New York in 1983. These recommendations called for 1) methodological improvements, 2) the use of available data to develop indicators women's situation at the national and international level, 3) increased interaction between data collectors and data users, and 4) improved data collection of information on women at the national level. The Office has made considerable progress in pursuing these goals, but much remains to be done.
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  2. 2

    Training: the key to quality data.


    Populi. 1979; 6(1):37-41.

    Since the function of the World Fertility Survey (WFS) is to help countries collect unbiased, cross-culturally comparable data on fertility, it is imperative that comprehensive and systematic training of survey personnel be undertaken. The first step in the initiation of a survey is to hold a discussion between WFS personnel and the organization sponsoring a survey in a particular country in order to determine personnel and training needs. WFS provides training assistance for all phases of data collection from sampling to coding, but the training of field supervisors and interviewers is viewed as the most crucial factor in conducting a quality survey. Most of the data collected in these surveys is done through interviewing a national sample of women of childbearing age in reference to marriage and birth patterns, contraceptive use, desired family size, and socioeconomic factors. The questionaires are fairly structured, but given the sensitive nature of the questions and the wide variation possible in responses, it is necessary to thoroughly train interviewers and their supervisors. Only women are recruited as interviewers. In the ideal situation only one center is used for training all personnel, and training time is approximately 5 weeks for supervisors and 3 weeks for interviewers. The training consists of a series of classroom lectures and role playing by the trainees, followed by practical field experience in which teams are sent out each day to nonsample areas to conduct interviews and then in the evening the results of the interviews are analyzed by the group. This intensive and prolonged training is costly, however, given the small sample size of most of the surveys, high quality data is essential. The long training period engenders in the participants a long lasting enthusiasm and interest in the work and the final training week is generally associated with a marked increment in the acquisition of interviewing skills. This intensive training has proved invaluable in the 30 countries where these surveys have been conducted.
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