Skip to main content
Search form
  • 00:00

    [MUSIC PLAYING]I'm Sharlene Hesse-Biber from Boston College.I'm a professor of sociology, and I'm currentlythe director of the women and gender studies program.I feel like I was born a methodologist, somehow.

  • 00:24

    My first recollection of methods was I reallywant to take this course.It happened to be a course taughtat the City University of New Yorkwith a person that became one of my mentors,Matilda White Riley, who I believewas sort of sitting in for someone to teach that course.And the first book we got was called Sociological Methods:A Case Study Approach.

  • 00:51

    And along with that came a workbook.And I thought this is really interesting,asking us to go out and the first thing we did was survey.And I remember thinking this is a great wayto teach because we first talked about the ideas of surveyresearch and questioning.

  • 01:11

    And there I was in my apartment building,asking people, knocking on doors,asking people if they'd mind if I interviewed them.And I thought this is the coolest thing in the world.And honestly, from there, I just became more curious about howwe ask questions, what we do.And I sought out methods courses from whenI can remember freshman year, sophomore year of college.

  • 01:36

    Then I transferred to the University of Michigan.And, of course, that opened up so many other doors--the Institute for Social Research, ISR, doing studies,did a study of white attitudes towards blacksin the city of Detroit, going into houses face-to-face,interviewing, being frightened, but havinga year and a half program where we did theory and praxis.

  • 02:01

    So one of the things I learned from Matilda and from othersteaching at Michigan is that questions and methodsgo together.You don't separate them out.You just don't teach methods.You say what do you want to know,and what methods might lend themselves to this?And curiously, a small group of usdecided early on that we wanted to dosomething other than a survey.

  • 02:30

    We wanted to see whether or not what people said in surveysthey actually did in reality.Why we did that, I don't have a clue.But I can tell you we thought, well,let's do what seemed to us a little bitlike more or less a multi-methods, moremixed methods approach, although nothingwas formalized in that way.

  • 02:50

    So what a small group of us did iswe went back to the houses-- not exactly the oneI had interviewed-- and asked people whether or notthey would sign an open housing petitionto allow all kinds of folks in their neighborhoodbecause there was a lot of redlining going on.And people were told there's no housing in this neighborhoodif you were an interracial couple, for example.

  • 03:20

    And what we found in this experiment thatwas tied to this survey was that by and large, people oftendid what they said they would do in their attitudesand actions experiment.And while there were some glitches--some people didn't do that-- I thoughtthis is really important, that we can actuallyshow that the hard work we do in the survey,the quantitative part, really capturesthe lived reality of what people actually do in everyday lives.

  • 03:56

    Now, I did have some issues about-- IRB wasn't thereat the time, institutional review board.But we did go back to people we had already interviewed,and they didn't know about it.And I guess I was feeling afterwards just as we reallyshould tell them.But at that point, nobody seemed to be caring about that as muchas linking this information.

  • 04:20

    So that bothered me in the back of my mind,bothered me a little bit.And we published this piece.My first publication was the American Sociological Review,ASR, which at that time was a leading journal.And being that was my first publication, I was like,this is pretty cool.I like this.But I liked the idea of attitude and action,of pushing the boundaries of whatany given method can give you.

  • 04:50

    And so I went on and I basically hada wonderful quantitative training at Michigan.I was involved.Actually, part of me was a demographer.Even though I majored in social organization,I minored in demography.

  • 05:10

    And I did research in Sweden on migration patterns.I know that's weird, but why would I go to Swedenfor my dissertation?That's a really good question.I must have been out of my mind.But my main thing was I've been studying these migrationstreams.

  • 05:31

    I've been with these push and pull theories,like we're treating migrants as being pushed or pulledas if they were these inanimate objects, that they'llgo to a job and wherever a job is,they'll be forced to go there, forced migrationback and forth.But I kept on asking the question what about the livedexperience of these migrants?

  • 05:55

    Wouldn't it be nice just once in a whileI could go in that migration streamand I could actually talk to some individuals,some human beings?Where could I do this?So I my professor at the time was Charles Tilly,and he was doing a lot of research on social movements.But he also had done research on migration.

  • 06:18

    And I said to him, Dr. Tilly, I knowyou do a lot of social movements,and I'm really interested in that.But this is a sort of social movement.People are being forced economicallyfrom certain areas.And there's a place that I know where I can actuallytrack migrants, and one of the countries that haspopulation registers is Sweden.

  • 06:41

    So do you think I could go to Swedenand interview some migrants for my dissertation?He goes, well, yeah.You could apply for a grant, and I would support you to do that.And I went to Sweden.And, of course, only one small thing--I didn't know Swedish, so how was I going to do this?

  • 07:03

    I thought about that later-- not really.So I enrolled in a Swedish languagecourse for, like, six months.And I learned Swedish-- not as much as I'd like to,but enough so that I was working together with the EthnographyInstitute in Sweden-- allowed me to have a place there to stay.

  • 07:31

    And I actually worked with some doctoral students whohelped me with the interviews and actually wentto some towns, some rural areas in Sweden,and tracked migrants through populationregisters that went from the small rural area to Stockholmand wanted to know why people also moved backwhen they decided not to pick up on the economic goodies,but in fact decided to return home,and wanted to know why what was that the case.

  • 08:00

    And so having done this and having actually talkedwith migrants, I realized that even though there with thesepushes and pulls, that there werecases where people didn't follow these theories,and the reasons for doing so.And even though they went, economically theywere better off.

  • 08:23

    But socially, they may not have been better off.So there are a lot of other thingswe need to know that included not just the quantitative,but the qualitative elements.So in effect, I was doing mixed methodswithout knowing I was doing it.But I was drawn to answering another set of questionsthat I couldn't answer with the methods I had,quantitative methods I had been given as a demographer.

  • 08:48

    So early on, I just sought out opportunitiesthat allowed me to kind of ask the questions I wanted to ask.I don't do things I'm not passionate about.And even if it means that I have to do somethinglike create a software program, HyperRESEARCH,because I can't stand analyzing data,having it all over my floor-- 80 interviews--I started analyzing my data and realized I needed another tool.

  • 09:19

    And I created this tool with several colleaguesat Boston College that later became one of the first CAQDASproblems.Why?Because I needed something.I remember going to the IT department at Boston College.I found these two great guys, IT folks,started talking with them.Said, I have this card.

  • 09:41

    I was using these anthropology cards they call hole cardsand you could code and punch the code in.And I put a knitting needle through and all of my codeswould drop out.And I was thinking, if this card could become electronic,then this would save me a lot of time.How would I do this?So I bring the cards to IT.

  • 10:02

    The men are looking at-- these twoguys are looking-- they thought I was out of my mind.I said, we can do something.I think you don't start with techniques.The students that I teach methods to,I always start with an interesting question.I'll start with a story, like I'll take somethingfrom the newspaper.

  • 10:25

    I start out my books, my method books and stories.So there's a tsunami that came and destroyed a village.And you're on the ground.They need information.What are the needs of people right now?What do we do?How can we as researchers sort of go in thereand begin to provide on-the-ground information thatwill be useful to aid agencies that's not going to duplicatethings, is going to speak to the needs of people on the groundthat are very differential?

  • 11:03

    So in some ways, I always love these doctorsthat cross borders.I think of becoming scientists that cross borders.And in times of need, we go in, weassess the situation using our tools,asking certain questions.So the methods become live.They don't become static.You have to ask students, you're learning these methodsfor a reason and they should not be disembodied from real life,so how can we bring these things together and actually show youthat just as a doctor will have a set of tools,a set of ways of reading illness, how do weread a situation socially on the ground to offer the bestadvice that we can-- not advice that comes from the top-down,from the bottom-up, and meets the needsof the diverse population?

  • 11:58

    And once you position things that way,people want to know, what tool do I need?I need a toolkit.And I know why it's important, and I knowwhat I'm going to do with it.And I say to them, but don't be wedded to just these tools.There are so many other interesting, cool toolsout there.Or if you don't find a tool, then you have to invent one.

  • 12:22

    And you can do that.And then I talk about my invention of the toolthat I needed.So once you begin to play to the imagination of your students'theory and practice, that it's not an empty set of thingsthat you're learning.

  • 12:43

    Most students, for example, in the hallway and I'llsay to them, so [INAUDIBLE] my advisees.I have to take methods.Oh, you have to take methods, really?Yeah, I really don't know why I have to do it.Well, I go, well, what do you think about it?It's just boring.It's just so boring.

  • 13:04

    And I'm thinking, we got to do something about this.And so early on, you don't start with the method.You start with how do we find out about things?How do we know what we know to really get them thinking, yeah?And you can know in many ways-- common sense.

  • 13:24

    I often ask them something that they could say, well, yeah,that's so easy.Why do you need methods?And I say, it's the exact opposite.The finding you thought was so intuitivewas really not the case.So common sense doesn't always work.Common sense is important.

  • 13:45

    We rely on authorities and so on.But if you want to learn in sort of a disciplined wayso that your findings matter and theycan be generalized sometimes, maybe youshould think of methods as one of the tools thatwill allow you to think in a kind of disciplined wayto make a difference in the world,doing something that can matter.

  • 14:08

    So once you tell them that this is reallya gift that you can give to others on information gatheredin a certain kind of way, then what you're doing nowis really critical to the world.So you have to position methods not as this thingthat you're learning, but tied to allof these interesting questions in the world.

  • 14:33

    And I wouldn't do it any other way.I'm very passionate about what I do.And having that passion in the classroom,allowing students to see if you're that excited about it,what is it about this method stuffthat people really are running offand my students are running around doing things?Everybody said, well, what course is that?

  • 14:55

    It's methods.[LAUGHTER]So yeah, you can have a cool thingthat you're doing that semester, and it could be methods.Well, I think being curious about thingsthat are missing from research.

  • 15:16

    I never identified myself as a feminist, for example.I was thinking about this idea, whendid you get that aha moment-- oh my goodness, I'm a feminist?I came to be interested in injustices, what's missingfrom this data, early on.

  • 15:42

    And I didn't self-identify necessarilywith being a certain kind of feminist.But if I'm interested in social justice issues for womenand other marginalized groups, that's to mealso what a feminist is about.So to give you an example, one of the thingswhen I was at Michigan that really bothered mewhen I was in survey research-- a very, veryquantitatively-driven driven enterprise, which I reallyrespected-- I got the best training in the worldfrom, I remember, Leslie Kish.

  • 16:17

    I don't know.He's a sampling giant at the time,and remember talking with him about randomization.And he spent like a half an hour with mein the hallway talking with me about it.And I kept on coming back to the survey questions.Your survey is only as valid as the questions you're asking.

  • 16:38

    And NORC studies, I found-- I was literallyin the graduate library thinking about a topic for my surveycourse and just rummaging through the stacks.I always do that.I think serendipity is important part of research.And I was looking at survey research.And honestly, out of the stacks dropped this book.

  • 17:01

    They were all the questions NORC everasked over the course of maybe 10 years.I remember it was a yellow book.And I'm thinking, this is a sign for me.This is a sign.I know it sounds weird, but there it was.Opened it up, kept on looking at the questions,sort of eyeing them, sort of doing a content analysis,of what kind of questions really are asked because NORCwould report results, but they would neversay what the question was.

  • 17:27

    Even when individuals are reporting survey results,they'll say, so many of the population said this and this.And it wasn't broken down by gender or race or class.It's just that this is the way the US population thinks.So going back to the questions, Istarted noticing some interesting things.

  • 17:47

    I couldn't help myself.I noticed the wording of the questions.And so I kept on looking at if you had a son,would you want him to go to college?And if you had a daughter, how would you feel about that?Now, they'd often mentioned sons and daughters.But for the most part, they'd use the word "man"to mean both men and women.

  • 18:13

    It was this notion of, well, when I say men,I also include women.But curiously enough, they did mention women onlywith certain kinds of very gender-specific questionsthat were very traditional-- about mothers, about daughters,for example.So they were inconsistent with the use of the word "man."And usually, it appeared at the public spherewith voting or other kinds of thing.

  • 18:42

    The private sphere, you started getting very gender-specific.So I decided to write an article.I did a content analysis of all the pollingquestions for all those years.And I wrote something in a magazinecalled Social Policy that I wanted to get out therebecause I felt that there were many things that werevery troubling about surveys.

  • 19:07

    Number one, if you kept on asking the same question,you were repeating the same stereotypesto tons and tons of people over the years.If you had a daughter, would you want her to go to college?Don't you want her to have a family?Not as bad as that, but it was very gender-stereotypedin certain domains.

  • 19:31

    And I thought, well, for that reason,and also validity, I want to knowif you think the American population feelsthis about politics.I want to know who you're talking about.Are you talking about men and women?And if you didn't ask that question, if you were a man,would you want your children to go into politics?

  • 19:57

    Where are the women?It seemed to me that that was an essential question,but nobody was asking it.So I just decided to write a couple of articles.The first was women's place in polling language.And I did not consider myself a feminist at the time,but I was, in fact, saying, where are the women?

  • 20:21

    They're only appearing in certain places.You are relying on major data sets.NORC is a major, major gatherer of data.And nobody thought to ask who made upthese questions, which seemed to me very simple, but verypowerful.And once I realized this was going on,I couldn't believe it.

  • 20:45

    Actually, I couldn't believe it.So I wrote another article on bias.And honestly, I was hooked at that moment,like it has to matter.So if you say what's feminist researchor what's feminist methods, it's not so much the methods.It's the questions.I was asking what a feminist empiricist would say.

  • 21:07

    Where are the women?Where are the other others here?Difference matters.And if you're asking a question, you have to be specific.The early Roethlisberger and Dickson studyof the electric-- I forget the name of the-- theydid a study of worker productivity.

  • 21:29

    And they noticed that some of the workers in this factorywere overproducing and other workers would being them.But the whole study, the results were written up asif they were based on men.But if you go back to that early study,there were women that were working there,but they were invisible.

  • 21:52

    They were thought, well, we don'tmention the conclusions were based on female samples, too,and like maybe more females than males.But it was written up as very gender-neutral,and that neutral meant the privileged category was men.So for a long time, I began to seethat the early studies in sociology, the womenwere missing.

  • 22:19

    I began to look in sociology books for wherewomen were present.They were present in family books, and men were absent.In the index, I couldn't find much about men.All of it was about women.I switched to politics.They were all men, no women.And this continued.It continued on and on.

  • 22:40

    So a feminist empiricist would sayit's not so much that I want to up-end everything,but I want gender inclusivity.I want to see difference here.I may not mess too much with the question right now,but I need to know that you're inclusive of the rangeof people that are involved in this question.

  • 23:03

    And that's an early feminist empiricist approach.It didn't say I'm interested in women's lived experience.It didn't say I want to send women's laws.But it said I want to include women.I want to be gender-sensitive, and we see that brandof feminist research a lot.It's safe.It's saying I'm going to be sensitive to difference.

  • 23:25

    I'm going to include women.I'm going to add them and stir them into my question.That bothers me, I could go deeperand do a feminist approach and say what question?Who made this question up?Is this the kind of question that'srelevant to all the other differences?Why this question?

  • 23:46

    That's moving us more towards a kind of more feminist approachfrom a gender-sensitive approach to a feminist frameworkapproach.That digs deeper across the research process.And so if you say what's feminist research, the methodthat's important, feminists use, Iwill use quantitative, qualitative methods in my work.

  • 24:10

    But my mission is really more than that.It's to delve into the entire research processfrom the inception of the question, who created it,to how we carry out the analysis, to be careful to lookat the data by a range of differences that matterto the question, to writing it upwith issues of representation.

  • 24:36

    How do we represent all of the issueshere in a way that is sensitive to differences that matter?And also, it behooves us to say, what do we do next?How can we begin to change things?

  • 24:59

    With the polling language question,I was writing to NORC saying to them,I don't understand why you're doing this.Did you know that you're doing this?I never got an answer back.But I can remember I was writing left and right.I started writing to individuals producing articlesthat seemed a bit strange to me, asking them,can I see your questionnaire?

  • 25:24

    That seemed to me like an important thingbecause I could tell there was something that wasn'tright with the questionnaire.And of course, I never got an answer back from that, either.And then I wrote to journals saying,I think it's really important that youkeep on file the source on which all of this informationis based.

  • 25:47

    I just get the funny feeling-- not that I would do this 24/7,but on things just where didn't seem to fit together,I wanted to just see what it was based on.I was very, very curious about that.For example, Audre Lorde would say you cannot dismantlethe master's house with the master's tools.

  • 26:14

    There are quantitative tools.They are patriarchal tools.And you don't want to really touch thembecause I think what she was speakingto at that time are individuals that would ask questions thatweren't relevant using tools and saying,look at-- we have quantitative findings.

  • 26:38

    You can't refute.It's significant at 0.001.My question is, is it sociologically significant?It doesn't matter.You can buy significance with large numbers.We know that in surveys.I was taught that.I know it.You add more people, you get more significance.

  • 26:58

    And I'm not saying that quantitative tools are notimportant.But you can't just say you have this fairy dust toolthat you put survey research on it and out pops significance.We have to go back, and that's what feminist researchershave taught me.

  • 27:19

    There are two contexts to the research process,the context of discovery and the context of justification.Now, we focus on the context of justification.RCTs will work because they're the gold standard.You put it on a project, you're going to get results.Maybe you do, maybe you don't.

  • 27:41

    What do you want to know?RCTs may be good for some things and not others.So we go back to the question-asking stage,the context of discovery.But we truncate that.We take that context out and we onlyfocus on justification of the methods.So the feminist researchers wouldsay depending upon your question,quantitative tools are really important.

  • 28:06

    If you want to convince policymakersthat a problem of violence against women is significant,then you need some quantitative toolsto really assess on the ground howsevere is this problem, taking into account, of course,when using that tool all the differences.You have to collect data by a range of differencesthat are going to be significant to your question.

  • 28:30

    Whatever quantitative tool you're using,you need to have prior to that measuresthat lend themselves to the diversity of individualsthat you are going to be giving this questionnaire to.If you take a standard off the shelf, a measureor scale that's been normed on men and you apply it to women,what are you getting?

  • 28:58

    But we take off the shelf measures all the time.And so feminists are very clear that if I'mgoing to use a quantitative tool,I need to make sure that that measure that I am relying onis gender-sensitive, difference-sensitiveto the question at hand.If I use a political participationscale that was used to collect dataon men in the public sphere, then I'monly going to get a low participation of women.

  • 29:30

    And how we define even our conceptsof participation-- women participate moreat the local level.If you have a questionnaire that measures participationat the macro level, well, you're notgoing to get much action here.So you can say, well, women are not active.But they're active in different ways.You just didn't see that.You only saw it one way.

  • 29:51

    You saw it through a different kind of lens.So that context of discovery is placing pressureson the context of justification to do its job well.And if you just say RCT is going to get you everything,it may or may not.It depends on what you want to know and how well it's used.

  • 30:11

    And usually, for the most part, youmay get results that are just not takingto account the very population that you're concerned about.And so that's what I mean by a feminist's approachto research.It takes the whole process to heart.

  • 30:32

    It just doesn't take one section or another section.And that includes writing up, ethical practice.It includes all of those things, allof those question-asking things across the research process.And to me, it's good research.It's not feminist research.But these are principles of practicethat can be applied across the board.

  • 30:54

    And when you say feminist, peopleget this oh my god idea, still even today.And to me, it's my foundation for what I do.I interrogate things.I look for subjugated knowledges,and you can't find subjugated knowledges with a measureoff the shelf.

  • 31:18

    It's knowledge that hasn't been researched,and it's not just about women.I'm doing a study now of men in breast cancer.That's subjugated knowledge.We have no idea of the experienceof men who get breast cancer.First of all, most people think men can't get breast cancer.It's probably one of the most neglected areas.

  • 31:40

    People don't want to fund it.I did a study of women and hereditary breast cancer.And now I'm doing a study of men because they're sisters.I promise, they're sisters.I would interview people like they're brothers whodon't want to talk about it.Men carry a lump in their breast for years.

  • 32:01

    By the time they're diagnosed, they're dead.The doctor will say, well, there are not too many of them,so we can forget about that.So people say, well, gender-sensitive researchis about women.It's about subjugated peoples, and some of themcan be men with breast cancer.So having done this study now of interviewing men, first of all,they don't want to talk with you.

  • 32:28

    Subjugated knowledge-- they don'twant to come out from where they are.The only way after four years I wasable to get one man to talk with me,including asking their sisters for help,was when I went online and found a few male support groupsand I gave them an online survey thatwas completely confidential.

  • 32:51

    The whole way I did this for the menwas so different than for the women.I could never have found them.So one by one, it took me one man doing an online survey.Then disconnected from the survey,I left a brief message-- if you'dlike to talk with me-- god forbidyou don't want to talk with me, but most peoplesaid you couldn't talk to them.

  • 33:14

    They will not talk.50% left their email.I was floored.But to get them to finally, it was like a snowballafter they talked to their friends.I'm up to now on the online survey 101 men,and I've interviewed intensively 32 men.

  • 33:38

    And I'm waiting on another 10 or 15 menthat want to talk with me.Men want to talk with you if they feel safe.What I realized is there are so many myths out thereon both sides about what women will do, what men will do.The biggest surprise to me was that if you provide, and theseare, again, feminist principles of practice, of how you carryout your work-- if you listen intentlyand you just don't put yourself in there,but you're there to listen to a storyand they can begin anywhere they want-- can you tell mehow you came to be tested for the BRCA mutation for breastcancer and tell me what that was like?

  • 34:29

    I want to hear your story.That was it.I was on the phone for two hours.I couldn't believe myself.I couldn't believe it.I had, I believe, some of these stereotypes.And what I realized, and I actuallywrote an article about this in the Huffington Post--I was, like, floored-- men grapplingwith a woman's disease, how hard thatis as a man to have breast cancer and the fearthat of what others will think of you, the stigma.

  • 35:05

    Not all the men-- the men that talkedwith me were the men that had very strong sisters thatsupported them.They were very close female role models in their lives.We did something called the Bem scale.I actually used a scale on the men.It was masculinity scale and femininity scale.

  • 35:26

    The men scored higher than the women on the femininity scale.I thought, wait a minute, wait a minute.What's going on here?Well, went back to the questions.What were they scoring high on in the questions?And what the men were doing when I went backto the interviews-- that's why mixed methods is important--when I asked the men about the questionson the femininity scale, what they didis they reinterpreted the questions.

  • 35:55

    So on the nurturant question, well, to be a manmeans that you're strong for your family.It means you get tested because that's what a man does.So they took the Bem items.They reinterpreted the items to reflect a different kindof masculinity that the femininity scalekind of captured, but not in the same way,not with the same meaning.

  • 36:25

    And so I had the quantitative datathat just was counterintuitive.But the qualitative data allowed meto see what the men were doing and the fact that theywere reinterpreting in their own ways what it meant to be a man.And that moment was so important to mebecause if we're ever going to reach the men that don't speakto me, we've got to understand howit is that the men that do speak to me come to meand how we're going to get all these other men that are notdiagnosed or have children that are at high risk for breastcancer for men, their sons' prostate and breastcancer, and their daughters' ovarian and breastand other forms of cancers, then we need to think differently.

  • 37:19

    I think about coming at things differently.And again, there I am, like, I'm that detectivetrying to figure out, trying to push those boundaries.And it's a journey.I'm always surprised.My kind of practice is I really haveto work at some of my own stereotypes.Here I am, reflexivity, all the things you can imagine,and I'm bumping up against this.

  • 37:44

    And I'm thinking, what was I thinking?The men in my study challenge me to rethinkmy own ways of thinking.Here I am reflexivity maven, you know, I'm thinking reflexivity,reflexivity.Wait a minute, Sharlene, you got to rethink this.

  • 38:05

    What were you thinking about these menthat you really need to rethink?And it's just been phenomenal for meto have this kind of back and forth,looking at the women and the men and the differences of howdifference really matters, even askingsimilar kinds of questions.

  • 38:29

    My advice for students early on is,and I see this in some grad students, I got that covered.I took that course, I know all about it.And I'm thinking, I want to say, do you?A little bit of knowledge goes a long way,but what happens is you get the knowledge, you're shut down.

  • 38:50

    I know that.And what I have learned over and over againis you need to push yourself.You need to push on those methods and theory boundaries.You need to ask different set of questions. [INAUDIBLE]case analysis is just the beginningof questioning your own results.Often, students-- I say to them, youmay not want me to be a reader on your dissertationor whatever because I'm going to ask some tough questions.

  • 39:19

    And they should have asked, like, in the beginning.But the thing is that we get wedded to a pet idea.We get wedded to a pet analysis.I got that covered.I'm going to use content analysis.I go, well, let's look at the question.Let's look at the method.Is there some other method you could use?

  • 39:39

    So we get stuck in our theory comfortzones, our methods comfort zones,and never getting out of those boxes.And our advisor-- we pick advisorsthat are in those boxes, and we reproduce the same knowledgethat never goes anywhere.It goes round and round and round.We need to think out of that box occasionally.

  • 40:01

    We need to push on those boundaries.We need to go to the edge of where we are and look aroundand say, is there another way?Have I asked this question correctly?I'll give you one example that struck me in my tracks.I was doing the study of hereditary breastcancer in women.

  • 40:23

    I was on my 11th interview.I was on top of it.I was so on top of these interviews.My sister had breast cancer.She died of breast cancer.I was reflecting on my own life when the women would say to me,especially my sister had died from breast cancer,I knew that.

  • 40:45

    I knew what that like.I didn't know exactly.I would never say to my responder, oh, I had a sister,I know what you mean.I would never do that.But what I would say is I can empathize.I'm at that standpoint that I can kind ofempathize with that.And so I was on my 11th interview.I was really listening intently, listening intently.

  • 41:10

    And all of sudden, a woman asked me,my respondent asked me a question-- Sharlene, she said,are you sure you're going to be OK with all of us talkingwith you about our situation?Very often, people want to know, well,why are you interviewing me?And I would never, ever start an interview saying,I want your interview because my sister died of breast-- Iwould never do that.

  • 41:35

    I would say something and it would satisfy people.It's about your story, not mine.But occasionally, somebody would say, well, Sharlene,why are you interested in this?I said, well, I want to honor my sister's death,so I got into this.The study found me, and I've been very reflective about it.So the 11th interview, the woman said to me, well, Sharlene,are you sure you're going to be OK with doingall these interviews, something like that?

  • 41:57

    And I thought, oh, I'm fine.This is really what I want to do.Well, the next interview was about a woman whose sisterdied of breast cancer.And the title, and I open this story up,is called "A Vial of Blood" is the title.

  • 42:18

    I start with this narrative, about the vial of bloodthat was left by her dying sister in the hospitalwhile she was online trying to figure out why her sister diedfrom this aggressive breast cancer,when everybody said it was a fluke.It was a fluke.It was no problem.And then she looked it up.She read something about the BRCA mutation.

  • 42:39

    And there was an intern, first or second year, maybe, said,I think there's a vial of blood left over.Maybe it should get tested.And she went on and on.I could find myself on the floor as Iwas talking to her in a yoga pose thinking, I can't go on.

  • 42:60

    This is too much for me.So I finished the interview.And I didn't interview again for six monthsbecause what I didn't do is I didn't check with myself.I was reflecting about everything elsebut my own internal barometer about howI was retraumatized by listening to the stories of others.

  • 43:25

    And I was blown away by my lack of reflexivity on it.I'm the reflexive person, and here I'mfaced with this situation.I couldn't believe it.I absolutely stunned, stunned.So what did I do?Six months later-- I don't know how, people would ask me--I was memoing.

  • 43:47

    I thought that was it for the study.I started interviewing again.And I have a methodology section in my book, which is"Waiting for Cancer to Come."And in that methodology, I talk about whathappened because I think it's important for researchersstudying something like this topic to understand that youcan be as reflexive as you want, but things come upand that things come up in an interview that requires youto really check in on all levels as a researcher, not just,oh, the good news is I had a sister who died,I can understand you.

  • 44:35

    Is that good for you?And are you ready to take up this kind of study?So I thought that would be important as a teaching moment,and we get these teaching moments all the time.I think feminist methods really centersthe lived experiences of women and other marginalized groupslooking at subjugated knowledge, looking at differencesamong women, and looking for ways to promote social changeand social policy on behalf of these subjugated groups.

  • 45:13

    The traditional definition of mixed methodsis combining a qualitative with a quantitative methodin one project.That's a really bare-bones, basic definition.But again, it focuses only on the method.And it creates a kind of method-centric viewof mixed methods.I would say mixed method entails mixingat all levels in the research process,from mixing perspectives, mixing analytical methods,mixing interpretive methods along the way.

  • 45:47

    And I'm not so sure we're really mixing.More, we're weaving and having these various componentstalking with each other because I don't reallythink on a certain level that we can violateparadigmatic divides that say we need to not worry about itand call everything pragmatic.We need to really think about howto weave these together rather than thinking about mixing themtogether.

  • 46:12



Professor Sharlene Hesse-Biber discusses how she came to be a feminist researcher and how that impacts her work. Feminist research is not associated with a particular method; instead it stresses inclusive and group-appropriate research design.

Looks like you do not have access to this content.

Sharlene Hesse-Biber Discusses Feminist Research and Mixed Methods

Professor Sharlene Hesse-Biber discusses how she came to be a feminist researcher and how that impacts her work. Feminist research is not associated with a particular method; instead it stresses inclusive and group-appropriate research design.

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website