Just over a year ago, I interviewed thirteen Christian women about their understandings of faith, gender, and feminism for my senior thesis sociology research.
Although the research was a requirement for my undergraduate degree, it was a perfect opportunity for me to explore my own tensions surrounding faith, gender identity, and social norms through the experiences of others.
To be completely honest, I began this research wanting to further reaffirm my own beliefs about women’s full inclusion in church life and leadership. My formative years at Scripps College had forged a strong feminist identity in me, and my coursework in sociology gave me a foundational knowledge of gender construction and practice.
Although I was (and continue to be) committed to conducting my interviews in ways that limit the influence of my personal bias as much as possible, I was afraid to possibly hear women agree with traditional narratives about gender and women’s roles. What would I do if they voluntarily embraced a worldview I thought was limited and damaging? How would I interpret their stories?