Methodology

Where the theory in my research was founded upon a feminist framework, the methodology used was phenomenological . This methodology allowed me to describe the meaning for several individuals of their lived experiences as females in a male-dominated field of study. Using this methodology I focused on describing what all participants have in common as they experienced this phenomenon. I felt that this methodology would best allow me to deeply analyze the experiences that women face as minorities in these fields of study as well as the underlying feelings of subordination that take place. This methodology allowed me to mainly focus on the data attained from conducting several interviews, but to also look at other forms of data collection in order to help further explain the lived experiences of these females in male-dominated fields of study. Specifically, I chose to use a hermeneutical phenomenology as my research method, which allowed me to describe and interpret the meanings behind the research that was attained. I believe this method was ideal for my research project, since the personal experiences which I am analyzing in my research are intertwined with mine; I have also had the experience of studying in a male-dominated field of study. Thus throughout my research I was able to create a process where I attained valuable data as well as added my own personal beliefs and experiences in the process of interpreting the lived experiences of my interview subjects. I believe this was appropriate only because of my lived connection with the research I was carrying out.

In using a phenomenological methodology, my primary research method was conducting interviews. I conducted a total of three interviews with different women who are all in different positions in male-dominated fields. The first interview I conducted was with a female who is graduating this year from a male dominated field of study. She will be the only female graduating in her class, this is why I will not specify her field of study or school. The interview was conducted in one of the school lounges, in the evening after classes. Sitting over a cup of coffee, we discussed her experiences. She was pretty comfortable sharing her experiences, although at times she seemed to be holding back. Since I have personally known her though, it was easy to build rapport and the interview went decently. The second interviewee was with a younger female in her third year of her degree in a male dominated field of study. We also know each other well, so rapport was easily built. We did it in a laid back setting as well in the evening after classes. She seemed unsure of my questions about her experiences at first, but after some thought she was able to give me more in depth feedback. It seemed she was thinking over her experiences and realizing the instances that I asked about. My last interviewee was a faculty member in a male-dominated field of study. She, as a female, is an extreme minority in her faculty. This interview was the best of the three. It was conducted in her office, in the afternoon, and she had a lot of knowledge about the female experience and the hardships faced in male-dominated work environments. She had also done a lot of analysis throughout her life of her own experience and was able to give me excellent, rich insights into the phenomenon I am researching. It was conducted in a pleasant and comfortable environment for the interviewee, since it was in her own office. It was also quite and ensured confidentiality, allowing rapport to be developed easily, making the interview go smoothly.

The second research method I used was photo analysis. Being a software engineering student myself, I used my knowledge of the places where software engineering students walk by every day, and hang out, to analyze these environments through photographs. I took pictures of the doors that every student must walk through to get to the lounge, cafeteria and most classes in the engineering building. On these doors were many flyers targeting the engineering demographic, a very male-dominated group. I also took a picture of the Undergraduate Engineering Society members. They are the organization that makes a majority of the decisions and plans for the undergraduate engineers. This society actively attempts to draw in a balance of males and females. Lastly I felt that the picture I used for this blog strongly related to the research project. It was analyzed in relation to the feelings of women in male dominated fields of study.

The third research method used in my hermeneutical phenomenology was an auto-ethnography. This method flowed well with the hermeneutical phenomenology since it is a self reflective recollection of my personal experiences in a male-dominated field of study. I decided to focus on two specific experiences I have had in my studies where I have felt out of place as a female, and how it has affected my views and participation in the program. The first experience was in my third year of studies, and the the second occurred this year. These experiences have certainly contributed to my expectations of the program and my contemplations in choosing to continue in male-dominated fields off study.

Overall, these three methods of data collection gave me more than enough data to conduct a thorough research study. This data also gave me further insights into the female experience in male-dominate fields of study and allowed me to attain very interesting findings.

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