6: Blakeslee/Fleischer Prompts, Ch. 2

Prompt 9 (Blakeslee p. 29): Identifying bias

  • What in your own personal experience has influenced your thinking about the issue you are considering for your research? In what ways to you think your experiences are influencing your thinking about the issue?

My training and background in journalism have definitely colors my interests and ideas about my research. Journalism is still primarily a male-dominated field, especially in the crime and politics beats I covered. My observations of my own work and communications with the men in the newsroom showed me some of the differences in gender that I believe could yield rich research.

  • How are your personal beliefs and preferences affecting what you are thinking of doing in your research? What are those beliefs and preferences?

I believe in a set of ideals closely associated with what many call the “liberal media agenda.” This means that I am very liberal in terms of social issues. However, I was raised in a fiscally conservative household and I have largely retained those beliefs, which certainly colors my thinking on a lot of healthcare issues that I’m interested in researching. My political preferences tend toward libertarian perspectives, and this is often evident in the critical stances I take on legal texts.

  • What do you think might be some biases you have in your approach to your topic?

I am biased in many ways, but the most dangerous biases are probably the ones I’m unaware of. I am hyper-aware of my tendency to think of everything as it relates to gender. Truly, I believe this is less of a bias than a reality, but I also know that it could be perceived as a bias and that I should recognize it as such.

I am biased politically, as is everyone. My political beliefs are explained in more detail above.

I am also biased in the language I use. In my academic work, I usually use vocabularies that reflect critical theory and feminist approaches. These vocabularies likely limit the analyses I am able to do.

Prompt 11 (Blakeslee p. 27): Identifying theories

I read the following three articles:

  • Hall, Judith, Juliet T. Irish, Debra L. Roter, Carol M. Ehrlich, and Lucy H. Miller. “Satisfaction, Gender, and Communication in Medical Visits.” Medical Care 32.12. (1994): 1216-1231. Print.
  • Cohen, Philip. “The Gender Division of Labor: “Keeping House” and Occupational Segregation in the United States.” Gender and Society 18.2 (2004): 239-252. Print.
  • Bowker, Lynne. “Terminology and Gender Sensitivity: A Corpus-Based Study of the LSP of Infertility.” Language in Society 30.4 (2001): 589-610. Print.

Hall, Irish, Roter, Ehrlich, and Miller examine the effects of age and gender (of patient and physician) effect patient satisfaction. Ultimately, (and this is something of a reductive summary) the article shows a bias in favor of older male physicians by most groups. Cohen explores the relationship between gender segregation in the home as compared to in the labor pool, finding that women leaving the home to work are a major factor in decreasing labor segregation. Bowker discusses the linguistic sexism inherent in infertility discourses and suggests possibilities for incorporating gender sensitivity into those discourses.

All these articles are underpinned by feminist perspectives and proposals for change. I also thought the “in society” theme of journal names/topics might be important. I am interested in doing research that can be representative of larger populations because it is this sort of research that I believe has the ability to spur or encourage social change.

These articles all also employ quantitative and/or linguistic methodologies. I think I am drawn to these types of studies because their findings seem harder to refute. It’s almost as if they’re written in a language that is more likely to get through to the people who need to hear it. (Sort of the opposite of Lourde’s tools-of-the-master argument.)

Prompt 13 (Blakeslee p. 32): Identifying ethical concerns

My research question is currently:

How does gender (not just sex) affect the ways that people perform and perceive communicative activities in professional/technical settings … how does knowing about these performances/perceptions shape communication?

The ethical concerns this question raises are mostly related to methodology. For example, how does one interact with interview subjects? My subjectivity as an obviously female person will be apparent to interviewees and could influence their responses. In fact, any line of questioning could result in “fixed” answers, even if it’s unconscious. Thus, getting real answers in an interview situation might involve deception as to my purpose, which raises many ethical questions.

In addition, what if my findings turn up evidence of sexism? Am I obligated to report this? Or am I obligated to protect my research subjects? How can I protect ALL research subjects if some are victimizing others?

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