Job Opportunity for Research Associate – Breakthrough at Poverty Action Lab in Bhubaneshawar

Website Poverty Action Lab

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) was established in 2003 as a research centre at the Economics Department at MIT. Since then, it has grown into a global network of researchers who use randomized evaluations to answer critical policy questions in the fight against poverty. JPAL is propelled by a first-rate team dedicated to research, policy, training, and other vital work, supporting J-PAL’s mission to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. J-PAL South Asia, which is based at the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) in India, analyses and disseminates research results and builds partnerships with policymakers to ensure that policy is driven by evidence, and that programs proven effective are scaled up. We have a growing number of partnerships in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Project Description: 

Despite two decades of rapid economic growth and social transformation, outcomes for women in India are considerably worse than those for men. Especially in North India, gender discrimination is rampant. Girls attend school for fewer years, marry young and have children quickly, while adult women face persistent barriers to labour force participation, decision making and mobility outside home. Attitudes associated with gender potentially have a large role in addressing discrimination. Breakthrough, a human rights organization, developed a comprehensive and innovative gender attitude change program targeting adolescent female and male students. Breakthrough implemented the two-and-a-half-year pilot program between 2014 and 2016 for students from grades 7-10 in 150 government schools across four districts of Haryana. Through teacher training, interactive classroom sessions, youth clubs, school activities and a media and communications campaign, the program aimed to create awareness of gender discrimination, change dominant gendered perceptions and promote gender equitable attitudes, with the goal to positively influence a wide range of short and longer term behaviour related to girls’ education, mobility, work, marriage, fertility and family planning. In order to assess the impact of this intervention, J-PAL South Asia conducted a randomized evaluation in 314 schools across Sonepat, Panipat, Rohtak and Jhajjar districts in Haryana (150 schools in which Breakthrough ran the program and 164 schools where it did not). The first end line for the study was completed in 2016, which showed encouraging results. In partnership with the Department of Education, Government of Odisha and Breakthrough, J-PAL SA is scaling up the intervention in Odisha, and is currently seeking a Research Associate to support the learning and knowledge component of the scale-up. The selected candidate will be based in Bhubaneshwar with extensive travel within Odisha and will work with Shagun Sabarwal (Director, Policy at J-PAL SA) to design, implement, and analyse an outcome assessment and process evaluation study in the state of Odisha for the scale up study. 

Research Associate Roles and Responsibilities: 

The RA will work closely with academic researchers and other field staff to perform a variety of tasks, including, but not limited to: 

  • Designing and developing survey questionnaires, running pilot exercises, refining study design and survey instruments 
  • Managing field teams: Recruit, train, and supervise both field-based and data operations teams consisting of project assistants, field managers, field-based surveyors, data entry operators and other field and office staff 
  • Supervising data collection and data entry, and ensuring data quality and productivity; Overseeing the entire data collection process, and ensuring that it complies with standards for data quality; 
  • Liaising with officials from the Government of Odisha and Breakthrough organization; 
  • Writing high-quality documents for the evaluation, including training manuals, process reports and reports of results from the different rounds of data collection; 
  • Assisting with data cleaning, preliminary data analysis, and preparation of documents and presentations for dissemination 
  • Ensuring the project follows the agreed timeline and meets key milestones 
  • Assisting with applications to local and international institutional review boards 
  • Maintain relationships with partner organisation at both headquarters and field levels 
  • Report to the Research Manager on all of the activities mentioned above 
  • Maintain compliance with all J-PAL protocols and policies. 

Desired Qualifications and Experience: 

  • A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Economics, Statistics, or related fields
  • Excellent management and organisational skills along with strong quantitative skills 
  • Fluency and excellent communication skills in English and Hindi 
  • Flexible, self-motivated, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, and a team player 
  • Experience cleaning and managing data and performing basic analysis in STATA 
  • Experience digitizing survey instruments on Survey CTO 
  • Experience living or working in a developing country 
  • Ability to manage high-level relationships with partner organisations 
  • Knowledge of data analysis software (ideally Stata) 
  • Familiarity with impact evaluations and randomised controlled trials 
  • Willingness to travel extensively to rural or peri-urban areas is essential 


  • Proficiency in Hindi and Odia 
  • Experience overseeing large-scale projects 
  • Experience liaising with an external partner organization 
  • Experience with working on projects within the gender sector 
  • Note on Work Authorizations: 

Candidates must have work authorization to work in India. This covers citizens of India, Nepal, or Bhutan, Persons of Indian origin (PIO), and an Overseas Citizens of India (OCI).

How to Apply

Complete the J-PAL/IPA common application. After completing a brief registration, choose the Research Associate job category, then select “Research Associate – Breakthrough” and include two letters of recommendation, cover letter and CV. Note that applications with incomplete submissions will not be considered. 

Also send an email to Sanchita Ohri at following these instructions exactly: 

  • In the subject line: Put your full name, first (given) name followed by last (family) name. 
  • Attachments: Please attach ONLY your CV and Cover Letter. 
  • Please do not include any text besides the position line(s) in the body of the e-mail. Adding extra text will interfere with the processing of your application. 

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for a written exam and interview(s).

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