Aubryn Sidle

Ph.D. Candidate, Development Sociology

Research focus

  • Gender, development, and education
  • Adolescent girlhood
  • Youth and population
  • Localization


Aubryn is translational and mixed-methods scholar whose research is focused on influencing practice and policy at the intersections of gender, education, development and localization. Aubryn’s work utilizes feminist evaluation and community-based participatory practices to explore questions about context and causal complexity. Her current projects include a multi-country longitudinal study of adolescent girls’ agency in East Africa, and a qualitative causal study evaluating community-driven organizations’ impact on girls’ well-being outcomes. She is interested in challenging traditional understandings about “scale” and “scalability” and using her research to offer viable strategies for accelerating the pace of change for girls’ empowerment in ways that center the importance of ‘place’ and the voices and expertise of African-led organizations.

Aubryn is a former NGO Executive serving from 2010-2016 as the Executive Director of AGE Africa, where she built an innovative life skills program aimed at improving girls' retention and achievement in secondary school in Malawi. Professionally, she has worked as a nonprofit strategy consultant, technical expert, and youth program coordinator. She is a passionate educator who has taught on the teaching teams for both undergraduate and graduate courses at Cornell. Most recently, she has taught her own course, a Freshman Writing Seminar entitled, Sheroes-Global Perspectives on Girls Empowerment.


  • Master of Science in Development Management, London School of Economics
  • Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Africana Studies, Cornell University, magna cum laude


  • Sidle, A.A., Oulo, Brenda. (Forthcoming). “Conceptualizing and Operationalizing Agency: Co-Creating a Contextually Specific Measure of Adolescent Girls’ Soft Skills in East Africa” Comparative Education Review
  • Sidle, A.A., Belle, S., Bohart, E., Fortunate, K.H., Fowler, Z. (Manuscript Submitted for Review) “Community-Driven Evaluation in Practice: Mapping Outcomes for Adolescent Girls in East Africa.”
  • Oulo, B., Sidle, A.A., Kintzi, K., Mwangi, M., Akello, I. (2021) “Understanding the Barriers to Girls’ School Return: Girls’ Voices from the Frontline of the COVID-19 Pandemic in East Africa.” AMPLIFY Girls Research Brief. Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Oulo, B., Sidle, A.A., Butler, M. (2021) “Stemming Pandemic-Related Losses in Girls’ Education: Promising Practice from the AMPLIFY Collective.” AMPLIFY Girls Research Brief. Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Sidle, A.A. (2019) “Action on Agency: A Theoretical Framework for Defining and Operationalizing Agency in Girls’ Life Skills Programs.” Gendered Perspectives on International Development Working Paper Series, University of Michigan.        

Thesis & committee

Aubryn’s dissertation project is entitled “Kujithamini ama Kujielewa? Emplacing Agency in Girls’ Education Practice in East Africa.” It explores the concept of ‘agency’ as a contextualized construct and outcome of interest for community-based girls’ education practitioners in East Africa.  Aubryn’s project explores the relationship between agency, program-intervention, and context, utilizing participatory methods to define, develop and validate a measure of agency and to develop a theory of practice for supporting adolescent girls’ agentic development. Aubryn is advised by Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue (chair), Lori Leonard and John Sipple.

Current grants 

  • Sidle, A.A. (PI) & Oulo, Brenda (Co-PI) (2022-2026) Does Mentoring Increase Girls’ Empowerment? A Mixed-Methods Experimental Evaluation of the Binti Shupavu in Tanzania. Echidna Giving - $500,000.
  • Oulo, Brenda (PI) & Sidle, A.A. (Co-PI). (2020-2021) Understanding the Barriers to Girls School Return After COVID-related School Closures in East Africa. Echidna Giving - $117,000.
  • Sidle, A.A. (PI) & Oulo, Brenda (Co-PI). (2019-2020) Emplacing Agency in Girls’ Education Practice-Developing Locally-Responsive Tools for Evaluating Girls’ Agency in East Africa.  Echidna Giving  & Wellspring Advisors - $450,000.

Awards & honors

  • 2021: Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • 2018: Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellow, $56,000 Award, US Department of Education (declined)
  • 2018: AWARE: Advancing Women in Agriculture through Research and Education Fellowship, $2,500 Award, International Programs at College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University
  • 2017: Engaged Cornell Research Fellow, $15,000 Award, Cornell Office of Engaged Initiatives, Cornell University
  • 2017: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Honorable Mention

Connect with Aubryn