For the past year, members of the NOISE Project have been coding responses from interviews that were conducted over the summer of 2019. During the coding process, we scan interview answers for their main ideas, and then assign them words or phrases that capture these themes. These words and phrases are called codes. For more information on coding, check out Luna Castelli’s video here! Each week, we’ll outline our “Moment of the Week,” in which we share an interesting coding discussion. Here’s this week’s!
What They Said
Question 19a: “Have you had the opportunity to openly talk about an issue that bothered you?”
“And then the meeting –there was a lotta talk, yeah, just people’s feelings. And I was just taken aback ’cause I was like, “Wait, I thought this was a research project. Why are we talking about our feelings? I don’t know.” Yeah.
I don’t talk about my feelings. Because that would not go over well, right? In male-dominated fields, you don’t want to do anything that would highlight things that could be perceived as being less than ideal.”INTERVIEWEE
How We Coded It
In the first part of their statement, the interviewee states that “feelings” are not typically discussed during “research projects,” thus causing the interviewee to be surprised and “taken aback” by the fact that there was talk of feelings during the in-person NOISE project research meeting.
- This practice of excluding any discussion of feelings from scientific research represents the status-quo–that is, the normal way of conducting affairs. The fact that the respondent was surprised by the events that took place shows that her expectation was that feelings would not be discussed. As such, we applied the codes status-quo and expectations.
- This fact that feelings and research are kept separate from one another is rooted in the white supremacy culture characteristic objectivity, and we applied this code accordingly. Objectivity is, according to author Tema Okun, “the belief that emotions are inherently destructive, irrational, and should not play a role in decision-making or group process…invalidating people who show emotion.”
- Note that while the interviewee does not themselves directly claim that feelings are destructive or irrational, they refer to the fact that in research, feelings are not included. To not include feeling and emotions in any capacity is to fundamentally disvalue such reactions–it is to claim that they have no benefit to the research process, and to agree that they “should not play a role in decision-making or group process” in the context of research. In this way, the interviewee’s answer illuminates the fact that objectivity is present in research by revealing that “feelings” are not included in research.
In the second segment of their response, the interviewee states that they do not discuss their feelings because it would be looked upon unfavorably in a “male-dominated field.”
- Here, the interviewee notes that their gender influences their actions and causes them to refrain from sharing feelings. In this way, they acknowledge gender-based inequality. They note the way in which individuals who are not men are pressured to regulate their behavior in male-dominated spaces and act in ways that are deemed appropriate. This sentiment is made clear when they state, “In male-dominated fields, you don’t want to do anything that would highlight things that could be perceived as being less than ideal.” Men, by contrast, do not face this same gender-based pressure in this space, and thus, this is a fundamental inequity that exists between those who are men and those who are not in “male-dominated” fields.
- In this way, men hold power and privilege in male dominated fields. They have, as the interviewee notes, power by virtue of the fact that these fields are dominated by those who share their gender identity. They have privilege in that they do not share the same burden of having to act in ways that are not looked upon as being “less than ideal,” as the interviewee does. We therefore coded power and privilege.
- Based on the interviewee’s answer, gender served as a contributing factor to the interviewee’s actions within a given space. As such, we applied the code systems, which is defined as: “a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized framework or method.” In this case, gender is the “mechanism” that influenced “the way things are done” in male-dominated fields.
Question for thought:
How do you define “feelings,” and should they have a role in research projects? If so, how should feelings be incorporated into research, and what benefit would that provide?
Do you agree with the codes we applied? Do you disagree? Are you comfortable with the thought process that took place? Let us know!
Illustration: composite with images from Pixabay.