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When Doing Sensitive Interviews, Have Emergency Puppy

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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So, I haven’t had a chance to blog these last few weeks. Part of it is that I’ve been submitting papers, revising papers, teaching, and giving talks – the usual gig for a professor. Part of it, if I’m being honest, is the new workout program I’ve been on, and the extra three hours a week of physical therapy I’ve also been doing to rehab a shoulder injury. It’s hard to wake up at 5am when you have 12 hours a week of exercise as well as a full time job and childcare.

The real reason, I think, is that I’ve been mentally and emotionally sapped from the interviews I have been conducting over the last few weeks as the follow up to the Biological Anthropology Field Experiences Survey (you can still participate in the survey, and you can still do an interview). I’ve figured out that it helps to have a posse of people I can go to when sensitive topics are covered, which is why I am so glad I have fantastic collaborators. I’ve also lucked out with truly brilliant, thoughtful participants. I’m not sharing the details just yet, or my preliminary observations since the first wave of interviews are ongoing.

But I will say one thing. Many of the stories I have heard are unacceptable. And it is my mission now, mine and many other strong allies, to figure out how to change the culture and structure of field experiences so that these unacceptable things do not happen to anyone else.

In the meantime, we need some puppies.

Kate Clancy About the Author: Dr. Kate Clancy is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois. She studies the evolutionary medicine of women’s reproductive physiology, and blogs about her field, the evolution of human behavior and issues for women in science. Find her comment policy here. Follow on Twitter @KateClancy.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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  1. 1. Mythusmage 1:18 pm 03/28/2013

    Why were the stories unacceptable? How do puppies fit in?

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  2. 2. syhprum1 5:47 pm 03/28/2013

    Being a bit of a geek I assumed that when you said you needed an emergency puppy that you meant the small Linux system that you carry around on a USB dongle that enables you to get into any PC memory resident.

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  3. 3. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 6:14 pm 03/28/2013

    Hi Mythusmage, they were unacceptable because they were upsetting, and there were preventable, bad things that happened to good people. Puppies fit in simply because puppies and other adorable animals tend to ease distress in internet parlance :) .

    Syhprum1 — of course, that is what I should have meant ;) .

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