After the Interview: reflection.Posted: April 29, 2016
Reflecting upon the two interviews I have performed for this topic in oral history, I can safely say that they were how I expected a first oral history interview to go. Definitely not a disaster, but in no way exceptionally wonderful on a professional note either. This is the task of the essay now set, to reflect on the interview’s qualities, and also how this interview relates to the subject addressed primarily with these women, that being that they are graduates in Science from Royal Holloway.
The first thing I’ll have to start off by saying is that I instantly recognised that throughout the two interviews, I was not presenting myself as a professional oral historian might. Not to say that I behaved unprofessionally in the slightest – I was however instantly taken with my interviewees relaxed attitude, and this played back to the fear I had beforehand on how to appear to the interviewee. She immediately put me at ease however, which meant that being situated in such a relaxed environment led to my interviewing style being perhaps less formal than it should have been for a first-time interview. I didn’t want to appear standoff-ish to her or distant in any way if she tried to engage with me around the interview questions in a friendly manner, and so I found myself responding to her informal conversation whilst recording. This meant that at one point during the interview she asked me personal questions about myself, to which I readily responded. My reasoning behind this was that I was a stranger coming into her home and asking such questions of her, so that even though it may have been unorthodox to the oral history interview I was happy to respond to her and answer any question she presented me with to the best of my abilities.
While the quality of the interview is necessary to reflect upon, the interview content itself is as important, especially when considering it shall now be part of the Women in Science collection that is in the Royal Holloway Archives. It was extremely interesting to find that the interview actually took a different path to the one that I expected; I had originally thought I could talk to her about her career in the sciences and the difficulty she faced in these jobs as a woman. Instead I learnt that she had left all connection to science completely after her graduation, and took on the role of a house wife. Any specific questions relating to the subject of science therefore became difficult to pursue, and so there was a lack in specific opinions connected to it. It did mean however that I could instead explore the areas in connection to her domestic life rather than her professional one, and how this was a consequence of the times and her position as a woman. However, the interview definitely lacked a feel of a ‘Woman in Science’, which is absolutely not to say that what she told me during the interview was anything but valid and interesting. Therefore the reflexive essay written about these interviews will have a focus on the topic of Science, but primarily on the differing relation to that topic that the interviewee had from original conceptions.