Springer, E. (2020). Bureaucratic Tools in (Gendered) Organizations: Performance Metrics and Gender Advisors in International Development. Gender & Society, 34(1), 56–80. https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243219874058

This article contributes to a growing conversation about the role of numbers in promoting gendered agendas in potentially contradictory ways. Drawing from interviews with gender advisors—the professionals tasked with mainstreaming gender in development projects—in an East African country, I begin from the paradox that gender advisors articulate a strong preference for qualitative data to best capture the lives of the women they aim to assist while voicing a need for quantitative metrics. I demonstrate that (women) gender advisors come to imagine metrics as expeditious bureaucratic tools able to inspire cooperation from otherwise reluctant (men) coworkers. I argue that development organizations are gendered in ways—acutely seen in how advisors struggle, are sidelined, and attempt to advance their goals with numbers—that lead to the utility of valuing quantitative metrics over qualitative ones. I establish two theoretical contributions: (1) Gendered organizations theory is essential to understanding the adoption and globalization of performance metrics, and (2) in an age of evidence-based decision making, the utility of quantified data to garner resources is heightened, rewarding those who adopt quantified knowledge production. I coin the term “the paradox of quantified utility” to describe how these material advantages encourage even skeptics to value quantitative metrics.