Thoughts before my first interview

Looking towards doing my first oral history interview, I feel a little nervous but I am also genuinely interested in hearing my interviewee’s experience working  as a female mathematics lecturer. I am also intrigued to find out more about how my interviewee’s social background has influenced her education and career choice. I have some general concerns about conducting my first interview: firstly, I am most worried about the interviewee only providing short answers to my questions rather than elaborating on them. I am also worried about my whether the interviewee will like my interview style. I hope that that there will not be too many awkward silences and that the interview will flow well. I am also wary of probing into areas that are potentially upsetting or uncomfortable for the interviewee to talk about, such as childhood.

My interviewee has taught mathematics at Royal Holloway for over forty years so she is clearly a very experienced lecturer. She still works at the university part time so it is possible that she may be reluctant to reflect on her experience at Royal Holloway in a negative light. As she has been at the university for so long, it will be interesting to hear how the college has changed over time, as well as changing attitudes towards female lecturers, especially in the field of mathematics. The interview will take place in the interviewee’s office which is beneficial because the setting may compliment her memories of working at Royal Holloway. My only concern with this is that the interviewee has mentioned that students may pop into her office at some point to discuss revision plans and she appears to be on a tight schedule.


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