Dr Marya Hillesland

Research Officer in Development Economics

Marya Hillesland’s research focuses on gender, intrahousehold dynamics, and water security in developing countries. This work is part of REACH, which is a global research programme to improve water security, and GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub. It also contributes to methods in data collection and measurement of agency and decision-making as part of an inter-organization research group, MAGNET.

Her previous research includes studies that use unique data from Ghana from the Gender Asset Gap Project, a multi-national project that collected individual asset and wealth data within households in three countries. One study explores gender differences in risk aversion based on asset allocation decisions. Another investigates the determinants of the gender wealth gap across the wealth distribution.

Prior to joining ODID, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Universidad de Costa Rica. She served as a senior consultant to UN Women in Timor-Leste, helping to engender the country’s first agricultural census. At Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, her work included research in Ethiopia as well as other data collection activities in Uganda, Kenya, Indonesia, and Niger.

She has a doctorate in economics from American University in Washington, DC. In addition to gender analysis and development, her studies included traditional economics as well as advanced heterodox courses in political economy and the history of economic thought. She has a master’s degree in international affairs from the School of International Service at American University.

Survey design and data collection methods for gender analysis
Intrahousehold decision-making, livelihoods, and household water choices in Kenya
REACH-WISER (Water InSecurity Equity and Resilience)

At ODID, Dr Hillesland led the gender and development module for the MSc in Economics for Development.

At American University, in Washington, DC, she led four undergraduate classes. She taught two semesters of gender analysis in economics, a semester of microeconomics, and a seminar course in feminist economic thought.

Research Students supervised

Journal articles and special issues

Hillesland, Marya (with S Kaaria, E Mane, M Alemu, V Slavchevska) (2022) 'Does a joint United Nations microfinance ‘plus’ program empower female farmers in rural Ethiopia? Evidence using the pro-WEAI', World Development 156 105909
Hillesland, Marya (with H Swaminathan, C Grown) (2022) 'Women's Land Ownership and Household Income Diversification Patterns in Malawi', Journal of African Development 23 (1) 58-86
Hillesland, Marya (with V Slavchevska, H Henderson, P Okello, FN Oumo) (2020) 'Beyond the sex of the holder: understanding agricultural production decisions within household farms in Uganda', AgriGender 05 (01) 14-27
Hillesland, Marya (2019) 'Investigating the gender wealth gap in Ghana', Oxford Development Studies 47 (1) 63-78
Hillesland, Marya (2019) 'Gender differences in risk behavior: An analysis of asset allocation decisions in Ghana', World Development 117 127-37
Research interests:

Gender analysis, intrahousehold dynamics, decision-making, water, agriculture, livelihoods, asset ownership