Barb Omann

I have enjoyed teaching Language Arts at ROCORI High School since 1996. I graduated from St. Cloud State University with my Bachelor of Science degree in English in 1995, and I earned my Master of Arts in Education from Saint Mary's University in 2000.

Here is the handout:

An Exploration of Gender Roles - Interview Project

Based on an assignment written by Prof. Charles Thornbury, Saint John’s University, and adapted by Jason Laker.


Your task is to draw some conclusions about the ways in which two men/women from different generations have faced the same and different issues of the male/female experience with particular attention to what it means to be a man/woman. You will do this by first selecting a set of interview questions; use this set of questions to interview a parent or grandparent. You will answer the same questions yourself. (Some suggested questions are included on the next pages.)

*Hint: To save yourself time, you could scan the list of questions to save typing them twice.


  • You should begin your Interview paper with a brief biographical sketch (date of birth, place, factual information mainly) of your subject.
  • Create a transcript of your interview (Question/Answer).
  •  Record the questions with your own answers.
  • Reflect on the interview process. What insights have you gained? Can you come to any conclusions about gender roles or experiences? Explain. (1/2 page minimum)
  • Submit to


PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW: Preparation is as important as the interview itself–in a sense, more important-- because your preparation may well determine the quality of your interview.  Taking notes when you’re covering so much material is difficult to do.  I recommend that you take some notes and tape record your interview.  Your subject might not be comfortable with taping; ask him/her beforehand, not at the moment of the interview.


Outline your plan of questioning before you interview.  You may use a chronological approach (childhood, teenager, etc.), or move from general questions to specific or vice versa.  However, as you plan your questions, remember that your outline is only a guide.  Do not force yourself or the person you are interviewing to follow your outline rigidly if it seems to limit his/her responses.  Develop a conversation; do not ask questions that invite “yes” or “no” answers.  A conversation may result in digressions, but be alert to follow‑up questions.


LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN.  Your own views are not relevant when the person being interviewed is giving the information; he/she is the star.  Do not, nevertheless, be afraid to probe into areas that seem interesting.  Limit your interviews: two hours at a time is about the limit; you can always have a second or third interview. 


FACTS: You want to record your subject’s impressions (one recalls the past emotionally), but you also need facts about him/her (date of birth, place, when an event occurred, where, etc.)



Note: Guard, tactfully, against allowing your subject to lapse into being “nice” (for example, saying what he/she thinks you want to hear) and idealizing/romanticizing people and the past. However, don’t continue with questions that make your subject uncomfortable or that he/she considers too personal. Be sure to explain the purpose of this interview – to explore gender roles and perceptions.








  • What is your first memory of your father?  What is your first memory of your mother?
  • What were your parents’ occupations/roles?
  • How much time did you spend with each parent?  What did you do together?
  • How did your father/mother outwardly express emotions?  How did your father/mother show his love and concern for you?
  • What did/do your father/mother value?  How did they show what they valued?
  • How would you describe your relationships with your parents and siblings (when you were growing up; at crucial periods in your life; now)? 
  • What is your most vivid memory of your father?  of your mother?
  • If you were a stranger observing your family for a while, what might you say about them?  What would this stranger say about your place or role in the family?




  • What are your earliest memories?  When were you first aware that you were a male? (female?)
  • What kinds of activities / work were you expected to do as a child/young adult?  Were these expectations different from those of your sisters or girls (your brothers or boys) your age?
  • Did you feel you couldn’t do certain things?  Why?
  • What naughty/rebellious thing(s) did you do?
  • What scared you? (What scares you now?)
  • Did you feel you couldn’t express certain emotions? Why? (Did you feel you can’t express certain emotions now)?
  • Who were your heroes?  Why?  Did you consciously model your behavior or ideals upon your heroes?  (Who do you admire now?  Why?)
  • Did you help support your family?
  • What conflicts did you have with your parents?
  • How did you first learn about sex?
  • When you were a teenager, were you rebellious?  If so, in what way or ways (social norms, school, parents)?
  • Describe your friendships.
  • When did you start dating?  Describe your first serious relationship with a female (male).  How is it like and different from your later relationships?
  • What was the view of sexual activity within your male (female) peer group?
  • What did/do your peers value most?
  • What were your rites of passage to manhood (womanhood)?  At what point did you consider yourself a man (woman)?
  • Were external factors important (e.g. war, economic depression, economic status of the family, death in the family, early marriage, prejudice) in becoming an adult male (female)?
  • At what age did you leave home?  Why did you leave at that time (e.g. college, marriage, military service, desire for independence, it was expected of you)?





  • What expectations did you have about having a profession?  How did you go about making a choice of careers?  Was it a conscious decision?  Was it assumed that you would pursue a particular occupation?  Have you changed occupations?
  • What were/are your views of being a father (mother)?  Are your views different from and/or similar to those of your father (mother)?
  • Did you get all the education you wanted?  If not, why not?
  • How did you meet mother (father) (or significant relationship)?  Describe your courtship.
  • Describe daily life for you during the first years of your marriage?  Where did you live when you were first married?  How did you manage economically?  How has daily life in your relationship with mother (father) and children changed? 
  • When did you decide to have children?  Was it a conscious decision?
  • What was the division of labor in the home? 
  • What was your relationship to extended family?
  • Who are your male and female friends?  How do you express friendship with them?  What do you do with your friends?  Tell about your closest friend of all time.
  • What part did religion and spirituality play in you life?  Have there been changes in your religious beliefs?




  • What personal characteristics are paramount in being successful or not successful (positive or negative‑‑i.e. intelligence and hard work; being “well-liked”; poor judgment which led to a decision which is regretted)?
  • How do you define success (which may or may not be different from “achievement”)?  Which ranks highest: opportunity to make money, security, pursuing a satisfying career, living in a good neighborhood, having a family, being respectable?  Were your youthful views of success the same as those held by your parents?  Has your conception of success changed?  If so, why?
  • What do you regret?
  • What are you proud of?
  • What is your “road not taken’?
  • What do you think about men (women) today?
  • How are men (women) different from or similar to men (women) in your youth/childhood?
  • What do you think men (women) today have forgotten?
  • What do you think men (women)–as a group or individually–are doing especially well?




______/30 Detailed transcript - minimum of 12 questions addressed - sought quality responses


______/10 Reflection - insightful - thoughtful - analytical - honest


______/10 Mechanics/Grammar - sentence variety - limited number of errors - proofread


PeriodsTerm 1Term 2Term 3Term 4Term 5Term 6
1English 10AEnglish 10AEnglish 10AEnglish 10AEnglish 10BEnglish 10B
2College Writing IICollege Writing IICollege Writing IICollege Writing IICollege Writing IICollege Writing II