Headshot of Kathleen Ragsdale

Kathleen Ragsdale, PhD MA

Founder and Director


Kathleen Ragsdale is the founder and director of the Gender Impacts Lab at Mississippi State University. She has served as the Gender Impacts Lead for the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab since the lab’s creation in 2013 and as the Gender and Youth Lead for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish Management Entity since the lab’s creation in 2018. Ragsdale has more than 15 years’ experience as PI, co-PI, senior research scientist, and evaluator on multiyear projects supported by USAID, US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, UN Women, among others. Her geographical experience includes Belize, Botswana, Costa Rica, Ghana, Mozambique, Panama, US Virgin Islands, USA, and Zambia.

Ragsdale’s global research focuses on food security, gender equity, and agricultural productivity for smallscale farmers, fishers, and other value-chain actors. Currently, she serves as PI on research projects and interventions for food security/nutrition enhancement funded by USAID through the Soybean and Fish Innovation Labs. Recent highlights from her Soybean Innovation Lab work include a journal article under revision for Food Security, which uses a gender lens to frame the impact of receiving a Soybean Success Kit – an input bundle of certified seed, fertilizer, inoculum – on soybean yield and soybean income among women soybean farmers as compared to men soybean farmers in three districts of northern Ghana, Chereponi, Saboba, and Tolon. In July 2021, her team conducted the Women’s Thresher Project Evaluation – Phase II Survey (K. Ragsdale, PI; M. Read-Wahidi, Co-PI), which explored the nexus of food security and mechanized thresher ownership among 191 smallholder women farmers who belong to thresher cooperatives. This fieldwork was carried out by Robert Kolbila, a Gender Impacts Lab graduate research assistant and PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at Mississippi State University.

Recent highlights from Ragsdale’s Fish Innovation Lab work include the FishFirst! Zambia survey conducted at Lake Kariba in May 2021 among 485 fishers, processors, and traders (K. Ragsdale, US PI; M. Read-Wahidi, US Co-PI; N. Mudege, Zambia PI; P. Marinda, Zambia PI). She also led the Fish4Zambia survey conducted at Lake Bangweulu in 2019 among 397 fishery value-chain actors (K. Ragsdale, US PI; M. Read-Wahidi, US Co-PI; E. Torell, US Co-PI; L. Pincus, Zambia PI; P. Marinda, Zambia Co-PI). Fish4Zambia’s executive summary of results is available here and an article is under revision for World Development. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi led development of the novel Post-Harvest Fish Loss Assessment for Smallscale Fisheries (Ragsdale et al., 2021) and adapted the Household Hunger Scale to explore individual- and household-level food insecurity.

Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi also launched two separate internal Gender Responsive Agricultural Development Assessments (GRADA) for the Soybean and Fish Innovation Labs to measure gender integration in each lab’s research portfolio. GRADA-SIL results are available here and information on both tools is available in a Feed the Future Advancing Women’s Empowerment report. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi are currently building an array of novel online certification courses for the Soybean and Fish Innovation Labs that target gender mainstreaming for development practitioners, researchers, extensionists, and others to advance gender-responsive agricultural development. They launched their first open-access course, Increasing Your Gender Responsive Agricultural Development Capacity, in January 2021.

Promoting gender equity
through hands-on research