Interpreting the Complexity of Women's Subjectivity Susan E. Chase and Colleen S. Bell
In discussions of how feminist principles influence conventional social science methodology, it has become axiomatic to assert that the subject-object dichotomy between researcher and researched should be challenged. Feminist researchers work at treating others not as objects of research but as subjects of their own experiences. In this chapter we explore one problem that arises in the course of practicing this commitment. We have discovered that what it means to treat interviewees as subjects becomes unclear and problematic when we ask about their experiences of being subject to various forms of inequality.1 How are we to invite women to speak as subjects when we ask questions that evoke narratives about discrimination, isolation, and exclusion? Drawing examples from our in-depth
interviews with women public school superintendents, we argue that researchers should focus on the complexity of women's subjectivity and how women narrate that complexity within the interactional context of the interview.