FSU Sociology Analyzing Gender Question

INTERVIEW PROJECT: Analyzing gender through timeFor this assignment, you will contact two “key informants” – any two adults of the same gender identity
but different ages (at least a decade separating them). They may or may not be related or known to one
another. As examples, you could interview a mother and her adult daughter or any 75 year old man and
a 25 year old man. You’ll be asking them questions to learn how their experience of being a woman,
man, or person of another gender category or identity has influenced their lives – a broad topic! You can
focus, if you wish, on one or two particular issues or life domains, such as those discussed in class (e.g.,
paid work, intimate relationships, parenthood, education, religion; views or experiences of feminism).
Because you’ll interview people of different ages, your data should give you peek into historical shifts in
constructions and experiences of gender. You are likely to find both differences and similarities. For
example, you may find that, compared with younger women, older women report experiencing greater
limitations on their physical behavior and pursuit of education and paid work– but they may report some
similarities in terms of power in their intimate relationships and responsibility for unpaid work. The
project involves identifying some of these similarities and differences and then developing explanations
for them, drawing on course readings and other materials.
Basic Principles to Keep in Mind:
1.It’s been said that asking someone about gender is like asking a fish about water, so you’ll have to
give advance thought to the questions you’ll ask to “get at” your informants’ experiences as
women/men/other gender. You’ll want to keep the questions about specific experiences and
circumstances, not generalities or abstractions. For example, you could ask a woman whether she had a
brother and, if so, whether they were ever treated differently as children (e.g., chores, parents’
educational expectations for them). You could also ask questions about whether they ever felt they were
treated differently [in their families/paid workforce/school] because they were a man/woman/other
gender. Be sure to follow-up with questions asking them to provide specific example of when they felt
this way. Providing another example, when asking about [past or present] intimate relationships, you
could ask a heterosexual person whether the experience of being married/cohabiting/other arrangement
was any different for their partner than themselves, and then follow up with questions about the specific
ways it’s different (e.g., do they do different chores or have different responsibilities for paid and unpaid
work? Who makes more of the decisions? Why is that?)
2.Try to select people who seem interesting to you and with whom you can feel comfortable.
3.Be prepared to provide an honest explanation of what you are doing and why, and to what use your
work will be put. Explain that the interview is a part of a course project that is aimed at gaining insight
into people’s experiences as women, men, or other members of other gender categories or identities.
1.Be very careful about the ethical issues that arise when you are studying other human beings. You
should assure the person that their identity will be kept completely confidential, and that the data
gathered from their responses will be for purposes of your course project only. Please live up to this
2.To preserve the privacy of your interviewee, do not use the person’s real name in your paper. You can
use just their first name, or use a fictitious name. You could also ask them to suggest a name to use!
Technical Guidelines:
1. Because we all need to be practicing social distancing, please make good decisions about
conducting in-person interviews. If the interviewee is someone you’re already in contact with,
there shouldn’t be any added risk associated with doing an interview. For example, you are
living with your parents now and you decide to interview one of them. There might be other
situations in which it would be possible to do in-person interviews, but only consider this option
if you can feel confident that neither of you has been exposed to the virus and that the interview
would take place in a well-ventilated outdoor space and at a distance of more than 6 feet.
2. For any interview you cannot conduct in person, you have the option of doing a phone, Skype,
Facetime, Zoom, or similar type of interview. This is perfectly fine! In-person ones aren’t
necessarily better! Sometimes people can feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts when
others aren’t looking at them!
3. Set up a specific time for the interview, preferably when no one else is around. Having another
person around can really be distracting and prevent people from expressing their true feelings.
4. If possible, you should audiorecord the interviews. Your interviewee may feel uncomfortable
with this, but I have found that it’s only distracting the first several minutes. You quickly forget
that it’s going on. If your interviewee is still opposed to this, don’t insist. Without a recording,
you will need to take very detailed notes during the interview. Some ideas are using Zoom’s
recording feature or recording on your phone while you use another device for the interview.
5. After your interview (whether or not it’s recorded), you should go somewhere quiet and write out
your notes and make sense of those you jotted down during the interview. Even30 minutes later,
you will have forgotten important details, so do this ASAP.
6. Your notes may include your thoughts and interpretations (including comparisons and contrasts
with material from class) — but be sure that these “editorial comments” are distinguished from
what you have actually been “told” by the informant. These notes will be CRITICAL when you
write the paper.
7. Review your notes carefully after each interview session and jot down any discrepancies,
linkages, or additional questions. This can provide an excellent basis for a second session and for
the organization of your paper.
8. Being nervous, tense, and excited is NORMAL for you and the person you are interviewing. Try
to relax and enjoy the process. Your feelings and reactions during the interview process are also
an important source of information. Give the person time to think about a question without too
quickly jumping in with another question. Allow comfortable silences to exist in the interview
when appropriate.
9. Do NOT probe into issues that the person obviously does not want to pursue. This does not mean
that you should avoid topics that you are uncomfortable asking about or that may provoke strong
reactions in the person you interview. Carefully phrase questions (in advance of the interview),
and if they seem a bit uncomfortable when you ask them, simply ask if this is a topic s/he is
uncomfortable discussing.
*There are 3 due dates for different parts of this project. This is to ensure that you’re thinking about
the project early and conducting the interviews with enough time to craft a solid paper that links well to
the course themes.
1. First, you’ll turn in a 1-page summary of your project plans. The project plans should
describe who you plan to interview and include some of the questions you plan to ask – specific
questions, not just the topics you want to cover. We will be able to give you feedback on how to phrase
specific questions, which influences the responses you are likely to receive! Please note that you may
not use interviews that you have conducted for other courses. Students have done in this in the past but
it’s never worked out well because the interview questions weren’t tailored to our course. (It also causes
troubling red flags in Turnitin and detective work on the origin of sources that I’d rather avoid!)
2. Second, you’ll turn in a short memo (approximately 2 pages) summarizing the two
interviews you conducted. Note that this is an overview of your actual interviews — not plans to
conduct interviews! Be sure that your memo includes a summary of the main themes that emerged from
each interview. You also must include — at the end of the memo — a bulleted list of course
concepts/themes/theories (approximately 4 or 5) that you are considering for inclusion in your final
paper. In determining this list, you should consider carefully your interview materials — what
concepts/themes/theories would they do a good job in illustrating? Be sure that your
concepts/themes/theories have some specificity. For example, rather than listing a broad theme like
“gender and work,” look through the relevant chapter and see which specific theories or concepts might
be especially relevant to your interviewees’ experiences.
3. Third, you’ll turn in your final paper (approximately 4-5 pages). Below are details about
how to use your data and organize your paper.
Final Paper:
Because your paper will be only about 4-5 pages (double-spaced), you will inevitably not use all of the
information you collect in your interview – and this is normal in any research (qualitative or
quantitative). Your task will be to select excerpts from the interviews in order to illustrate several main
As you begin to think about organizing your collected data and writing your paper, you will need to pull
out themes running through the interviews. In particular, think about similarities and differences in your
informants’ experiences of being a woman/man/other gender. For instance, perhaps you find that their
experiences in paid work are vastly different, but their experiences in intimate relationships have some
similarities. If so, you can use direct quotes from the interviewees to illustrate the discussion of these
themes. The organization of your paper will be very important to your overall grade on this assignment;
the paper should include the following sections (clearly labeled):
1.An Introduction to the paper in which you briefly discuss what you see as your major findings (i.e.,
what interesting issues about family emerged from your interviews). The introduction should include a
brief description of the key informants.
2.Results of the data will form the majority of the paper. It is critical that you link your data to concepts,
theories, and issues that we’ve been discussing and reading about in class. *Put each concept or theory
you use in your paper in bold font the first time you use it (and normal font subsequent times). You
can’t discuss all issues; you’ll need to select the ones that are most clearly related to your interviewees
and your data. Do not simply describe the interviews from start to finish, and don’t try to include all the
data you collect.
3.The Conclusion should very briefly summarize your interview experiences.
You should address questions like the following: What was the interview experience like? Did it give
you any new insight on issues you learned about this semester?
References: For any works that you need to cite in your paper (for example, the textbook or any
supplemental materials you used in making the points in your paper), please use the American
Sociological Association formatting. If you google “American Sociological Association format,” you’ll
find examples.
The paper is due the last week of class. You’ll submit it through a Turnitin link. Any materials
referenced in your paper need to be cited. This includes the textbook, other books or articles, and any
other printed or electronic resources. If material is directly quoted, it should be placed in quotation
marks and the reference cited. If you are conveying the ideas of an author’s work but not using direct
quotes, you still need to provide a citation. Otherwise, the ideas are incorrectly attributed to you – which
constitutes plagiarism. For more information, see this page on our library’s website:
http://guides.lib.fsu.edu/plagiarism. Please let me know if you have any questions at all!
Jack Mittelmark
SYD 3800
April 8, 2022
Gender Interview Memo
As part of the interview project of analyzing gender through time, I interviewed two of my
closest friends, Brett and Connor. Growing up as kids, Brett and I lived near each other and went
to the same school. However, we came to know about Connor through Brett’s father, with whom
they worked together. Over the past week, these two individuals took part in my interview
sessions that explored and analyzed gender identity over time. I met with Brett at a coffee shop
and held a face-to-face interview. Contrary to Brett’s interview, I reached out to Connor through
FaceTime, given his busy schedule. I have known both of them for quite a while, and I believe
they gave articulate answers in the comfort of their sexuality. Both Connor and Brett identify as
male homosexuals growing up in different times. Brett is in his early twenties, while Connor is
well into his forties making their age difference over two decades.
The first informant, Brett, is African American working as an intern in a hedge fund organization
in Florida. The company workforce mainly comprises white individuals, both young and old.
This situation makes Brett a minority not only through his sexuality but also through his
ethnicity. The interview explores his experiences previously and currently in his place of work. It
is evident that due to racial profiling, black people have long experienced systemic and persistent
prejudice at the hands of other individuals. Brett and other homosexual black males face
disproportionate discrimination and harassment in the recruiting process and the job. He believes
that if the organization had been aware of his sexual orientation, it would have blocked or
ignored his internship application. From the interview, It was evident that constant exposure to
discrimination significantly impacts an individual’s mental well-being. African American
LGBTQ people endure substantial discrimination and prejudice, ranging from simple
interactions with neighbors to employment harassment. This persistent prejudice has resulted in
significant inequality and mental and physical health problems.
Connor, our second informant, is a white male who owns a restaurant and actively takes part in
empowering the LGBTQ community. He recalls two specific occasions while recognizing and
accepting my sexuality in the interview. In the 1980s and 1990s, Connor was aware of his
attraction to males but lacked the rhetoric necessary to formulate his thoughts, let alone
communicate them to anybody else. Indeed, he had distinct recollections of sobbing
uncontrollably alone, convincing him that his fate was one of rejection and hatred, and ending in
a long, excruciating death. During those times, being a homosexual was like a death sentence,
and he had a difficult time coping with the situation. However, society became receptive to
homosexuality over the years. Connor’s experiences prompted him to become an activist fighting
for the rights of the LGBTQ community.
The final paper will encompass theories and concepts relevant to the subjects illustrated in the
interview. These concepts and theories include;


Gender identity

Sexual orientation

Stigma and social exclusion

Gender variance and fluidity

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