Norma Barr

As Interviewed by Sarah P., March 15, 2012
"I wanted to find out, how did the women back in the late seventies, early eighties, achieve a high level within their organization when there was a clear, discrimination against them?"
Norma Barr

Introductory Profile: About Norma Barr

My interviewee was my neighbor, Norma Barr. I noticed that she stressed throughout the interview that her opinion was that it wasnít where you were from that gave you a bias on whether men were better than women, it was mostly how you were raised. She then gave an example of when she had traveled one time. Whenever Norma travels, she always has a big heavy computer case as one of her carry-ons. Because of her visible characteristics, of being a small, older woman with a heavy case, she told me that without fail, one or two men will jump up out of their seats and offer to take her bag for her. She usually views this as a courtesy, whereas some women might take it as an insult. But when she traveled to another country, she realized that there was only stairs leading her to the ground, rather than an actual airport. Since she realized and accepted that she was going to be slow taking her bags down the forty- or so stairs, she waited for everyone else to go in front of her. But one man simply picked up her bags for her, and got two or three other men, and together carried down all of her bags and their own. It was just the same as in America!

Norma Barr is a kind, white-haired woman, with glasses and who occasionally wears lipstick. I find her a very good, articulate storyteller, and I enjoyed listening to her answers in response to my questions. She is in her mid seventies and is small in stature, but enjoys wearing bright colors often and always has her hair done. She has a big personality and is fun to be around. She just loves to talk though, in an entertaining way, and she and my mom sometimes just talk for forever.

Norma lives with her daughter, Shay, and was recently visited by her nephew over spring break. She has one sibling, a brother, that was two-and-a-half years older than she is. She also explained that she had a very happy childhood, growing up in Oklahoma. She had also said that she was born to the Haney family, with a stay-at-home mom, and a dad that had a job as a businessman. She attended college to Southwestern State University in Oklahoma, receiving her masterís degree. She then did post-graduate work at Oklahoma University, and went to Texas Tech and University of Texas, and ended up getting her Phd at the University of Texas.

As the interview went on, Norma used hand motions as she talked, and she got really into telling the story. I was calm, focusing closely on the words, holding the recorder still, and tweaking and preparing my next question. Norma leaned in the front corner of her chair, paying attention but relaxed. After a little bit, it was just like a normal conversation, except for the recording, and my already-written questions.

After the interview was over, Norma made sure that I understood her whole theme; itís not where you come from that affects your bias, itís how you were raised. I mostly agree with her, your parents do have a lot to do with your behavior, but I think that your environment can have a significant effect on you too. No child is exactly like their parents, we are all different. We all have things in common, though, like our home, and it can change us.