Oregon State University Libraries and Press

SueAnn Bottoms Oral History Interview, February 15, 2023

Oregon State University
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00:00:00 - Oral consent

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Partial Transcript: Interviewer reads the oral consent statement.

Segment Synopsis: The narrator agrees to the oral consent.

00:00:57 - Childhood and upbringing

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Partial Transcript: Tell me a bit about your childhood and upbringing in Maine.

Segment Synopsis: The narrator grew up in rural Maine and spent her entire childhood there. She lived in a small town with a lot of poverty, and everybody knew everybody else. She found this suffocating, so when she moved to college she intentionally moved far away from Maine.

00:06:04 - College at Western Washington University

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Partial Transcript: Did you find, being first generation, that you faced any barriers once you got to college that other students who's parents had gone to college didn't face?

Segment Synopsis: People who's parents had gone to college seemed to know what they were doing and had a trajectory, while the narrator did not. She couldn't receive help from her parents because they hadn't gone to college. She also had trouble deciding on what to study because she didn't know what options were available to her and she didn't have any role models. She earned a degree in general studies with a focus on women's studies, and she earned enough credits that she was able to get a biology degree later on after getting a job at the Forest Service.

00:11:12 - U.S. Forest Service

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Partial Transcript: How did you end up working at the Forest Service after receiving a degree in general studies?

Segment Synopsis: The narrator got a job at the Forest Service as a temporary summer job, then went back the next summer and worked all year long. She faced sexism while working at the Forest Service, but had supportive male supervisors and ended up in leadership roles.

00:18:06 - Taking biology classes

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Partial Transcript: When you were in your biology classes, did you face sexism because you were a woman?

Segment Synopsis: The narrator didn't experience sexism in her biology classes. There were a lot more women in biology than in subjects like physics or engineering.

00:19:56 - Being a supervisor at the U.S. Forest Service

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Partial Transcript: What were you doing while you were working for the Forest Service?

Segment Synopsis: The narrator was offered a supervisor position after working there for three years and continued to work her way up. However, she eventually got bored and left.

00:21:40 - Teaching

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Partial Transcript: The narrator started getting invited to go into classrooms, and that is when she realized that she liked working with teachers.

Segment Synopsis: The narrator was getting invited into classrooms and liked working with teachers, so she got her teaching credential. She ended up being a teacher because she had her teaching license and was asked to teach when a teacher at a rural school quit right before the school year started. During her first year as a teacher, she worked all day as a teacher and then went to work at the Forest Service. She left the Forest Service after her first year teaching. She taught at rural schools, so she was always the only science teacher and taught all fields of science. She also went and taught in Spain. There was more gender bias in teaching than there was at the Forest Service.

00:32:24 - SMILE Program

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Partial Transcript: After teaching for a decade, why did you decide to leave teaching and come work for the SMILE program?

Segment Synopsis: The narrator left teaching and came to work at SMILE because she wanted to work with teachers, and the SMILE program gave her that opportunity.

00:38:09 - Working towards PhD

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Partial Transcript: What was it like working at SMILE while also working towards your PhD? What was the hardest part about working towards a PhD while also working full-time?

Segment Synopsis: It didn't seem odd to the narrator that she worked full-time while receiving her PhD. She never had a free moment while working toward her PhD, but her PhD also gave her many opportunities. She was able to integrate her research into her job at SMILE, which was helpful.

00:40:41 - Half marathons

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Partial Transcript: What motivated you to do half marathons and what did you learn about yourself through the experience?

Segment Synopsis: The narrator learned that she is very competitive. She started doing half marathons the year she turned 60, and while she would always try to do them with other people she would always leave them behind because she would get competitive. Her last half marathon was in the fall of 2019. During her last half marathon she decided she didn't want to do half marathons anymore and never did one again. She had proven to herself that she could do it, so she didn't feel that she had to do it anymore.

00:46:36 - Faculty in the College of Education

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Partial Transcript: Did you encounter sexism while working in the College of Education?

Segment Synopsis: There is a hierarchy in higher education, and the fact that the narrator became department chair without having tenure made people question whether she was legitimate in her job. In education, STEM faculty has higher status than language faculty and there was a tension between the two, and people who are in STEM would act as if they were superior to STEM education faculty. There are not many women in high level positions in higher education. The narrator didn't get tenure because she did not study traditional STEM education. Her community based research didn't receive grants or get published in the right journals because it was. not traditional STEM education research. The system that exists makes it difficult for women to achieve high level positions, and it is difficult to push back against the system.