First Interview Reflections

Last week, we conducted our first test interview and we learned a lot from it. Some minor details about lighting and camera angles could be improved along with microphone strategies and simply leaving the camera on after the interview has ended.

We discussed better possible questions and how we could help the interviewee remember more. Asking more warm up or memory jogging questions would help the interviewee open up and discuss her life in greater detail. It would also help to tell the interviewee that it is okay to pause and think. Interviewees need a chnace to remember their experiences and if they feel they need to constantly talk, it is hard for them to recall everything they might want to discuss.

The most interesting thing I was left to consider after the interview was how to ask the interviewees about parenting. As Dr. Martin said, we do not want an entire archive of interviews where women talk about their experineces as parents and men never mention it. That would obviously seem sexist, even if we had no intention to single women out as the sole homemaking partner.

While discussing possible solutions to this problem, we considered a couple of options. First, we could simply let the interviewee bring up parenting and ask questions from there, but this method would probably result in women talking more about parenting than men simply because it is more likely for women to talk about parenting. This leads me to our next solution, we could ask everyone prior to the interview whether they are parents. Of course, this would mean we need to tailor our script to each interview but it seems like a rather simple solution to the problem. Both men and women would be asked about how their English degree has impacted their role as a parent. Furthermore, we need to be mindful of asking men follow up questions on their role as a parent if they tend to discuss parenting less than the women.

I found this problem interesting because parenting is a job and for some people it may be a career. Unpaid labor is labor and it should be recognized not only by our project and in our archive but by society. Including unpaid labor and domestic work in our interviews is one way we can promote this viewpoint.

I am actually very excited to learn about the way that a degree in English changes a parent’s perspective. Our first interviewee said that her ability to read and retain information has made her a better mom because she was able to properly research parenting issues rather than listening to the opinion of one perdiatrician. This one example shows that the ability to read and write effectively is extremely useful and it is not limited to writing memos and reading corporate documents. I am interested to see how other people have incorporated their English degrees into their daily lives and as unpaid labor.