Jolene D. Smyth
I have two somewhat distinctive research areas: survey methodology and gender. My primary area of research is survey methodology. The methodology research questions I pursue are largely shaped by changes occurring in the survey industry. These include the shift toward self-administered survey modes and the movement from single-mode surveys to mixed- or multiple-mode surveys. These changes have been the starting point for my current lines of research, which include questionnaire design (especially visual design), mixed-mode surveys, within-household selection, and the effectiveness of diagnostic tools for identifying sources of error in telephone surveys. I also run an eye tracking laboratory in which my colleagues and students and I are working to better understand how people of varying literacy levels process web questionnaires and how questionnaire design can be used to help those with low literacy answer web surveys. Students interested in research experience who want to work or volunteer in the lab should contact me via e-mail (email@example.com).
My secondary area of research is concerned with how gender is produced and its consequences at the individual level. This work is grounded in the “doing gender” perspective, originally proposed by West and Zimmerman. A large body of research drawing on this perspective has shown how we establish and reinforce gender through the division of domestic and paid work, through gendered bodily displays (i.e., dress, makeup, etc.), and by maintaining a separation between the home and the workplace. However, my research differs from previous research in this area in that I examine gender in a setting where these typical strategies of doing gender are challenged—the family farm. Broadly speaking, I pose the question, how do we “do gender” when the work we do challenges our achievement of gender and when we cannot easily separate our home and work lives?