Roles: sole researcher & designer of process
To better understand Colombian women’s perspectives before traveling to Huila (see Opitas del Futuro), I conducted a small participatory-action inspired research project which included 30+ virtual interviews and a focus group session with Colombian women to better understand their perceptions and attitudes towards gender and inequalities.
By involving Colombian women in the preliminary research for this project as well in the analysis of the preliminary insights, I was able to analyze some of the findings that I was already developing from the research and invoke a participatory spirit to the process.
The three lines of inquiry of this research are
1.) How do women from Colombia view gender differences and their impact on working women?
2.) What might personal empowerment mean to Colombian women?
3.) How might a woman from Colombia self-represent and identify culturally?
The term “berraca/o” surfaced in informal conversations with 2 women about the research. It is a particularly Colombian term and often used in it’s positive connotation to refer to women who want to get ahead in life and who are hard-working and resilient to hardship.
I first designed a cultural probe which I took to Jackson Heights to find Colombian women to interview in-person. The questions were five, asking how they would describe women from Colombia; work culture and changes in gender equality; the definition of “berraca/o”; and about development and empowerment as a woman.
After finding it difficult to recruit Colombian women in NYC that wanted to participate, I used an online service, Conversation Exchange, to find participants for my study. 30+ women responded from different parts of Colombia, both rural and city dwellers, and we corresponded by WhatsApp voice messages with the five questions I had prepared previously. I transcribed these audio responses and synthesized them to extract insights.
Meeting a woman through a “Colombians in New York” Facebook group who invited her friends to have snacks and conversation in our studio, I developed a set of conversations cards with quotes from the WhatsApp interviews and a book that I had read by Colombian women feminists “Mujeres: Paz, Política y Poder”.
I transferred important tidbits from both the interviews and the focus group onto post-its and grouped them by theme.