DataCenter trains Domestic Workers to conduct their own national survey!

by Christina Fletes, Research Fellow and Anne Ryan, Communications Associate

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When you hear survey statistics in the news do you ever wonder: who’s out in the field asking people questions and collecting this data?

Perhaps you imagine someone in a cubicle making cold-calls or maybe a college student going door-to-door carrying a clipboard.

This may be a method for some agencies, but when you hear survey results from DataCenter this is what you can imagine: someone from a community, talking to people they know, and asking questions they’ve helped develop. As DataCenter’s National Domestic Workers Survey project continues to move forward, you can imagine a Latina, Cambodian or Trinidadian woman, who, after learning how training to conduct a survey, will be out collecting real stories so that women from this largely isolated and misunderstood workforce can use their experiences to acquire the basic labor rights they deserve. Thank you for joining with DataCenter as we gather community-based research, and currently embark on one of the key steps in any research project: training our domestic worker surveyors.

As of this post, we have conducted a Training for Trainers in New York, and are currently leading one in Los Angeles.

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Now you’re wondering, what is a “Training for Trainers”?
We have gathered together domestic workers who speak Spanish, Tagalog, Haitian Creole and 6 other languages that domestic workers speak. After a four day training, these women will then go back to their home communities, and train others to conduct the survey as well. In this way, we can efficiently train surveyors in 13 cities across the United States.

Now you’re wondering, what will they need to learn? First, the participants will learn about who they will be surveying. DataCenter is using census data to inform the demographics of those we seek to survey. Surveys will be collected according to occupation and race/ethnicity. For example, if in San Francisco 60% of the workers are housekeepers then 60% of the 150 surveys will come from housekeepers.

How will they find people to survey? DataCenter will also provide the participants with the space and the tools to create specialized outreach strategies. They will be learning tips and methods from each other as well.

In addition to generating powerful, national data about the working and living conditions of domestic workers across the country, this survey will help local organizations that support domestic workers increase their base. This is key: as domestic workers meet each other and learn each others’ stories, they can find comfort in their shared experiences, build relationships and build a groundswell of support for the rights of domestic workers from state to state and across the country. We look forward to bringing their stories to you as well, so we can work in solidarity with them for lasting social change.

Read stories of Household workers in California (2007).
Read stories of Domestic Workers in New York state (2006).