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Women in Europe Free to Speak, but Not Always Heard

Women in Europe Free to Speak, but Not Always Heard

For this year's edition of Gallup's Conversations on International Women's Day, we focus on the experiences of three female interviewers in Europe: Mia, Lucie and Elena. We have changed their names to protect their identities.

Mia interviews in Germany, Lucie in France and Elena in Spain. All three do their interviews over the telephone.

Gallup: Aside from earning a paycheck, why do you do this type of work?

Mia: It is very interesting to speak with so many different people. In my real life, I would never be in contact with all kinds of people with such unique opinions. Especially with my shyness, it is quite hard for me, but on the phone I am much more confident, and it is easier to talk.

Lucie: I am a people person, a good listener and attentive, which serves me well as an interviewer in getting honest answers from the respondents. That's what I do it for. To bring out the best answers in them to make a difference about issues that affect us all -- present and future generations.

Elena: This job is a chance for me to learn because I am able to understand more about people's character and behavior when I talk to them and about topics that I would not have thought about dealing with, even in a dream. Being a female interviewer helps me face or anticipate certain situations in my private life, as well as get information on useful topics or issues in daily life.

Gallup: Can you tell me about one of the toughest situations you've been in as an interviewer? What happened and what did you do?

Mia: I did an interview with an elderly lady who was very sweet. She started telling me about her life and when she was a young girl during the Second World War. She became quite emotional while talking about her deceased husband and her children. It was hard to stick to the questionnaire because I did not want to interrupt her and seem rude. Being a very empathetic person did not serve me well here. But I managed to get her focus back to the questions. In the end, she thanked me for listening.

Elena: I remember a situation that was quite embarrassing for me. I was interviewing a guy in his 30s who looked for any excuse to flirt with me. I was able to control the situation perfectly, and the poise that I was able to maintain surprised me. All the guidelines given to us interviewers came to my mind and I told myself I had to put them into practice.

I treated him like any other respondent. I was a professional doing my job, and I had to achieve my goal. As a woman, I would have liked to tell him so many things and everything I thought about him.

Gallup: How do you feel when you interview women in your country? How do you think they feel to be asked questions? Do they tell you?

Mia: I actually prefer talking to women because they think about their answers more carefully.

I think in Germany we are lucky to have a voice as women, but when talking to women from different ethnic backgrounds or from older generations, I do hear small differences -- especially in regard to questions about the traditional family model.

Lucie: Interviewing my fellow countrywomen is dear to me. It is a chance for me to find out how they feel about their lives and a chance for them to speak up in a country where they can freely do so, but don't always feel they are heard.

Elena: I like to interview the women in my country. I usually empathize more with women than with men because they tend to be colder and usually convey less to me. I immediately notice if a woman is comfortable during the interview because she speaks naturally. That motivates me more to do my job.

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