Feminist Research Ethics

Feminist Research Ethics

7. Ethics of Care

A feminist ethics of care involves an ethical belief that research should take into account the welfare, well-being and concerns of research participants and researchers. This includes taking into account the affective, or emotional impact of research on participants.

The exercise of an ethics of care also involves considering the distribution of power in the research process. This includes, relationships of power between researchers and participants, as well as relationships between researchers, for example, between student researchers and senior academics (Peake 2015, pp. 263-264).

An ethics of care considers both the collective and relational impacts of research (Bell 2014,  p. 82). Practicing an ethics of care could involve:

  • taking responsibility for the impacts of the research process, including the impacts of the ways in which your research participants are represented in your research;
  • exercising a politics of compassion (for example, through active listening); and,
  • protecting vulnerable groups (Bell 2014, pp. 82-84).


Reflection Exercise


• What are the key relationships in your research project where an ethics of care can be applied? Are there power differences in those relationships?

• Are there groups in your research project with heightened vulnerabilities, who may need extra measures of protection to enact an ethics of care?




  • Bell, L., 2014. Ethics and Feminist Research. In: S. N. Hesse-Biber, ed. Feminist Research Practice: A Primer, 2nd ed. Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore: Sage. pp. 73-106.
  • Peake, L. 2015. The Suzanne MacKenzie Memorial Lecture: Rethinking the politics of feminist knowledge production in Anglo-American geography. The Canadian Geographer, 59 (3), pp. 257-266.