A significant influence on postmodern interviewing comes from feminism. Research methodology in patriarchal societies is depicted by the gold anodized aluminium commemorative plaques placed on board the 1972 Pioneer 10 (the first spacecraft to travel through the asteroid belt) and in 1973 Pioneer 11 (the second mission to investigate Jupiter and the outer solar system and the first to explore Saturn and its main rings), featuring a pictorial message, in case either Pioneer 10 or 11 were intercepted by extraterrestrial beings.
Of significance, are the naked figures of a man and a woman, with the right hand of the man raised as a sign of good will, but not the woman's—as she is spoken for—similar to the traditional interviewing methodology: "woman have always already been spoken for" (Fontana 2001:167). This in no longer acceptable in ethically responsible research, but remains of sexist gender relationship may still impact on interviews:
- If males interview females, the males can be domineering
- When women interview men, women may be reluctant to control the focus of the interview
- Male participants are sometimes guilty of being dismissive of female interviewers
Equality of gender in a negotiated dialogue must be pursued. Participants should be allowed to express themselves freely. Interviewers should encourage free expression of fears, doubts and feelings.
Fontana, A. 2001. Postmodern trends in interviewing. In Gubrium, J.F. & Holstein, A. (Eds) 2001. Handbook of interview research, context and method. Thousand Oaks: Sage.