Sex, Drugs & Science

Stephenie Chaudoir

June 17, 2020 Valerie Earnshaw & Carly Hill Season 1 Episode 3
Sex, Drugs & Science
Stephenie Chaudoir
Chapters
Sex, Drugs & Science
Stephenie Chaudoir
Jun 17, 2020 Season 1 Episode 3
Valerie Earnshaw & Carly Hill

Dr. Stephenie “WD” Chaudoir is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the College of the Holy Cross. Stephenie talks with Valerie and Carly about integrating her background as a first-generation college student with her position as an academic scientist, using the power and privilege of tenure to tackle sexual misconduct on college campuses, and collaborating with an ace group of scientists to study how a brief writing intervention has “monster effects” on improving mental health among sexual minorities in rural Appalachia. Valerie and Stephenie reflect on why they haven’t focused on sexism research, despite being women who study stigma, and Valerie shares pro tips on science celebration piñatas. 

Read more about Stephenie’s work here: https://www.holycross.edu/academics/programs/psychology/faculty/stephenie-r-chaudoir

And here: http://www.stepheniechaudoir.com/

Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Stephenie “WD” Chaudoir is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the College of the Holy Cross. Stephenie talks with Valerie and Carly about integrating her background as a first-generation college student with her position as an academic scientist, using the power and privilege of tenure to tackle sexual misconduct on college campuses, and collaborating with an ace group of scientists to study how a brief writing intervention has “monster effects” on improving mental health among sexual minorities in rural Appalachia. Valerie and Stephenie reflect on why they haven’t focused on sexism research, despite being women who study stigma, and Valerie shares pro tips on science celebration piñatas. 

Read more about Stephenie’s work here: https://www.holycross.edu/academics/programs/psychology/faculty/stephenie-r-chaudoir

And here: http://www.stepheniechaudoir.com/

Valerie Earnshaw:

I'm Valerie Earnshaw, I'm Carly Hill and this is Sex Drugs, and Science today's conversation is with Stephenie WD Chaudoir who is an Associate Professor at the College of the Holy Cross.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

If I could like recreate academia and social sciences at large, like in the product, how we, how we do the science, it a lot more of it would start whole person.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Hmm. You know? How like whole scientist or whole, like, think about our participants as whole people.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

I think both, but I think like what you have control over is yourself and who you show up to the science with, and, you know, maybe this is a little bit too much on the each or Hollywood story side, but like, I guess for me as a scientist, I just, in retrospect, wish I had allowed myself more space to bring more of myself, like in strategic ways to my science, because I think early on, early on, like, I imagine many people do. I brought the, like, how do I make, how do I like square peg round hole fit myself into sort of the like distinguished white guy scientists framework. And luckily there've been some pretty bad ass, um, definitely feminist scholars and other, you know, female identified scholars before me who have kind of paved different pathways. But I do think there's not in my experience.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

I wish there were more space to explicitly bring like your own positionality into your work. Um, or I wish there had been more encouragement of that. Now. I think like the longer I do this and the more I exist in a post tenure, more secure space, I think I'm.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

more like, well, F it I'm a whole person tenure, you know? And so there's more latitude to do that. And so I'm trying to be mindful of how I bring my own positionality into my work and into who I am as a scholar. But yeah, I don't know. I wish I wish we, I wish more, whatever this vibe is of the podcast and of Seth's class and, you know, certainly there's many other examples of these types of spaces, but, um, yeah, I, my wish would be that we would do more of that.

Valerie Earnshaw:

So what parts of yourself do you feel like you left behind early on or that you didn't think that there was room for, as a scientist, or in science?

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Um, I think I fell well. I think, you know, there's lots of different ways of doing science. And I think early on, I tried to do the science that would, that in order to gain respect in authority in the space, I felt like I had to, um, like you asked, why, why don't we do sexism research anymore? I don't know. I think somewhere along the line, there was, there was a, an assessment that was made around, like what's most likely to get published or I want, you know, how do I like the goal is on some level is very utilitarian. It's like, how do I establish myself as a credible scholar in this space? And in order to do that, I think early on, um, I tried to mimic whatever I thought would be the most credible. And oftentimes that meant not asking, being selective about which questions that you ask in terms of like, you know, both of us did self objectification and sexism work at some point. And while that was really great and important, and I'm glad that we did it and that I did it. Um, I think for me, it was also very clear that that wasn't gonna be the way that I got more accepted into more of the spaces that seemed more legitimate at the time. And that's a shitty thing to say out loud.

Valerie Earnshaw:

No, but just look at like the impact factors for journals, right? Like compare the, you know, I don't know, but HIV journals, which we both publish a lot into like the, some of like the women's health or like women's journals, or look at like one of the proposals that I worked on a long time, or I worked on a long time with Lisa Rosenthal from Pace University on, was a study about discrimination experience during pregnancy. And this thing was like impossible. Like the reviewers didn't like it, they didn't understand it. Like, it was really just very challenging to try to get people excited about this work on like women's health. I think that there's definitely, yeah. Some sort of additional marginalization that comes along with studying women and studying women's wellbeing and, and sexism as well.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah, for sure. So I think, you know, to your question about like, what did you not have space for? I mean, definitely. I think for me, it was also, it was like, you know, to this point of, um, some of the questions that maybe I was really interested in answering didn't seem strategic at the time. And so you kind of let those go or you also find you go through the battle. And you're like, I really feel important that I want to publish this paper about women's reproductive health or whatever self objectification. And then you go through the gauntlet and you kind of see what it took to get to that publication or to the whatever impact you're trying have, and then maybe it's not as rewarded or as easy or sustainable for your entire career. So you kind of pivot. Um, I also think like experientially as a grad student, and even as, even as a pre tenure professor, I mean, definitely like coming from a working class, um, first-generation background.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

I felt like even though now I retrospect and I realized there were a lot more people who identify in that way, who were going through grad school. And even now in my current position, I realize like more than not, my colleagues are first gen or working class background folks, but for so long it felt like, I don't know. I like, like that wasn't something that I wanted to identify with. And so I think strategically, uh, you know, I disidentified with that for a long period of time, just to kind of move through the ranks and just focus on, you know, the parts of self that are a little bit more, I don't know, prestigious as it were yeah. That fit in. Um, so yeah, but I mean, you know, I don't know, we all have to navigate which parts of yourself you want to foreground and background and what's, what's what, what matters. And, um, and yeah, so I, but I think that, you know, folks like us on the fact that we're even having this conversation, like there are more and more cohorts and generations of scholars moving through the Academy who when they feel like they can bring more of those parts in are doing that and are paving the way for more scholars to perhaps start from a place of not feeling like they need to disidentify with those parts of their backgrounds.

Valerie Earnshaw:

It's so interesting to me because this conversation is making me reflect on, so why I also dropped it, cause my master's thesis was focused on self objectification, which is this theory that when women think about themselves from like a third person perspective. So they think about how they look to others, that they have all sorts of negative outcomes in comparison to when we're in our first person states. So when we're just thinking about what do I, what am I thinking? How am I feeling?

Valerie Earnshaw:

Um, and

Valerie Earnshaw:

So I did that project and then I think I had this idea, like the narrative, the story I tell myself about that project is like, I wasn't very good at self objectification research because it was hard to publish and like, it just like that I wasn't good at it. And it was also, it was also a very ambitious master's project to take on, like we did this round Robin study and the analyses were really challenging. So,

Valerie Earnshaw:

Um, it was a challenging project, but, you know, in retrospect it feels like, of course that was going to be harder to publish or harder to disseminate then, you know, a project that wasn't focused on. Well, how to, you know, how to college age women, you know, feel when they're thinking about themselves as a body versus as a, as a person. So, um, and then since then my narrative is, has been assesses in research, like really bums me out as a woman. So like, you know, when I, when I am studying and it's the same reason why, you know, I live with a chronic health condition and I feel really ambivalent as about, as to whether I want to study stigma associated with that specific chronic health condition, because it bums me out. Like when I reflect more on like, especially stigma at that structural level, like stigma, like it's really easy for me to spot it. And it's really easy for me that and to think about like, oh, this is how it impacts outcomes. And then when I start to kind of like narrow in from, oh, this is how it affects women too. This is how it's going to either currently affects women or sorry, could affect me really, or might affect me in the future or now like, then I start to just feel bummed out.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah. I mean, and how could you not, cause you're sitting there wondering like of this normal curve or of this linear effect, am I, where am I down over here? Am I in the high risk people who experienced a lot of stigma, but have low social supports? Like, I mean, how could you not try to like, uh, retrofit your regression line onto your lived experience? Which you know, is not the best for mental health anyway, but yeah, so I same, yeah. I relate,

Valerie Earnshaw:

I had this, um, I have this like memory from grad school and I was in a class with Dr. Diane Quinn, who is our mentor from grad school. And it's her birthday today.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah. Happy birthday if you are listening. It's Wednesday, April 29th. When we're recording this super public super terracing, birthday wishes

Valerie Earnshaw:

Yes, happy, happy birthday. But she showed us like this graph of, in her professional development class of like, this is the number of women, uh, who graduate with PhDs. It looks pretty equal to men. And then it just gets smaller and smaller as you go up the tree, you know, from assistant to associate to full. And Carly and I were talking about some of these numbers yesterday and it just, I was like, what am I doing in this career? But yeah.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Meaning like that you've achieved. And you have some survivor guilt.

Valerie Earnshaw:

No, it's a graph. A, I have not achieved. I'm a little like Assistant Professor down here, but you're like, come

Carly Hill:

Cmon now, whatever.

Valerie Earnshaw:

No, but just like, as a grad student, like looking forward and being like, oh, this is going to be hard,

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Right? Oh yeah, no. I mean, finding that sweet spot between, uh, knowing, knowing what the data say and using the data to make more strategic, to use the data, to inform your strategery is really incredible. And you want to be able to do that. And I think we both did that, you know, in different ways. So go us. But then there's also the moment where like, if you allow the data to totally drive your daily lived experiences, you like, it's not healthy. And so like, like sort of in the idea of like, if you're, if you're running, I'm not a runner, but I, I hang out with runners sometimes and they always say, right, like they say, like, when you're running up a Hill, you can't look at the end of the, of the Hill. You're trying to climb. You only have to keep your head, your, your, your, your, your, your jurisdiction, your focus point two or three feet ahead of you. Otherwise you're going to give up. Yeah. So like finding that sweet spot of like, okay, I'm running down this gauntlet where the numbers are, the odds are not in your favor, but also trying to keep motivation to just keep going. Just keep writing, just keep publishing. Uh, yeah. You have to find that sweet spot. It's tough, man.

Valerie Earnshaw:

One paper at a time. Yeah. No, that's fair. So, so since you've leveled up, since you made it to the top of, at least the tenure hill, how have you been able to feel like, like folded in some of these other aspects of yourself or integrate them in either to your science or your teaching or your service?

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah, I think, um, experientially my day to day life as a faculty member in my community is different. I mean, I think it's qualitatively. I'd like to imagine a scenario in which it wouldn't matter and you know, we'd all treat each other equally, no matter what your rank and you know,

Valerie Earnshaw:

Thank you for saying this because I've talked to so many people in their like first or second year of associate, I'm like, how is it? And they're like, Oh, it's, you know, it's the same. And I'm like, it's not,

Stephenie Chaudoir:

No, it's not, it's not. I mean, if, if by sameness, they mean it is anticlimactic. Yes. Like it's up to you, um, to, to make the sort of pomp and circumstance out of it that you want. Because I think the trends or the norms in academia are very reserved. And I mean, you know, I went like completely opposite direction and was just like, this is huge.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Yes, it is huge!

Stephenie Chaudoir:

And then we had party and all the people came and we rented a house and we just threw this. I mean, it wasn't like a rager. Like in college.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Like we had t-shirts. Oh my gosh. Yes, there were a tenure t-shirts. There was a pinata. Yeah.

Valerie Earnshaw:

I've stolen Brian's t-shirt. So now I have both t-shirts, I can like increase the rotation of my t-shirts. There was a pinata, as there always is at our celebrations?

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Oh my gosh, yeah, are you even having a party? If there's not a pinata,

Valerie Earnshaw:

No, you're not,

Carly Hill:

You're not doing it right.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Definitely not in an academic party. That's how we celebrate our milestones.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah. So, but I'm pretty sure, like, yeah, that's not the norm. What our pinata parties are not the norm, but, um, but so, yeah. So how did things change? I had a party, it had dope t-shirts and a pinata, there was lobster involved. It was, it was, it was off the hook. We did it, we did a good job on that's all credit to my husband, Joe for planning and executing it. And Val helped and lots of people chip chipped in, and it was awesome. Um, so yeah, definitely gotta celebrate the wins. So we celebrated the win, but yeah. Okay. So, but is there a difference? Yeah, of course there's a difference. I, uh, I think people want to say that there's not, but the fact that you can wake up every day, uh, particularly in this moment in time where, uh, there are hiring freezes everywhere, um, people there will be furloughs, there are, you know, a cascade of financial consequences that are unfolding from this pandemic and the quarantining that's happening.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Um, yeah. Being in a tenured, relatively financially secure position, um, is everything right now. I mean, so yeah, it completely changes. I think the calculus or can completely change the calculus that you have in terms of like your status within the Academy. Um, but also like for me personally, I, the big question that I have been trying to keep close is, um, like what do you do with the tenure? Like once you have it, cause it's like the Holy grail and, you know, from day one of grad school, it's like, you're not here to get the PhD. You're here to go get the tenure and, you know, make your mind very, very top of that Hill people drop out. Exactly. So, but you know, the question then is like, well, why, why did you do all that work? Why did you go to grad school? You know? And so for me, like, I've been really trying to be mindful of how I want to show up in my job every day and what I want to use, the tenure, the power and the privilege and the opportunity that's afforded by tenure. What do I want to use it to do? And for me, that has meant that, um, there's been more speaking truth to power.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Um, there has been more mindfulness around like, okay, so I got here and I'm at the, you know, looking around now with the tenure, how do I, how do I make it a more, a more humane process for cohorts behind me? Um, how do I pull up, you know, lift as you climb, how do I pull up other really important, um, talented scholars who might have a particularly uphill battle to pass through the gauntlet?

Stephenie Chaudoir:

And I don't know on a fun I've been, I mean, you know, I'm sure everyone thinks I'm like such a weirdo for saying this because it's definitely not the norm, but I'm just like, yeah, my tenure is like a race car. And like, when I got that paper, I was just like, what kind of race car am I driving? And where is this baby going to take me? So, you know, like in moments where around sexual misconduct, for example, I've been on the front lines, uh, saying, you know, unpopular truth, sometimes not alone, but with a small cadre of people, of people who are trying to, you know, move us forward. Um, it is, I would not be in a position to say those things or do what I do without tenure. Right. Period.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Yeah, Absolutely. It was interesting to look at your CV and I'm going to just pause here to say, Chaudoir you got to update your website.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Oh my God. I know. I know

Valerie Earnshaw:

So its like, the CV's like from 2015. You've got all these Amazing projects that aren't listed which we are going to come back to. And I was like, how are the people going to know, how are they going to know? I mean, they're going to listen to this podcast obviously and learn about

Stephenie Chaudoir:

They're going to listen. No, no totes 100% agree. Yeah. We're going to table that. Um, but yeah, especially when you look back, uh, because my picture that I have on my own page, first of all, yeah, it's on my, trust me, it's on my list. But in particular, because when I look, I can't just, I can't look at that picture anymore. Cause it's like, it's like when you saw Obama or any other president, you're like, here's their before when they like were sworn into office and then here's what they look like after they left office. And there's like a lot of aging that happens. It's like, here's Chaudoir. Like little baby Chaudoir pre-tenure, pre-child pre all the things. And then here's now. And you're just like, this is like, this person doesn't even look like.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Well I had that photo pulled up from your website. And then I found a photo of you and the, um, from the Holy Cross website where they were talking about your Wall Street Journal, when Wall Street Journal featured your work, which was amazing. But you had this, like, you looked so gorgeous in that photo. Like you had like your hair, like in a,

Valerie Earnshaw:

Your, your earlier photo, like her hair was all straightened. And so in this other photo, you'd like, let your hair do its thing. Cause your hair is curly. And then you were wearing this like fabulous statement necklace, which is one of the things that, you know, I really love about your wardrobe. So you just like looked much more, you in the other photo, like you were having a good time, like even your hair was yourself, you're like, you know? So you just, in terms of letting you be you and rock your own style and stuff, you just, you looked more like who you always were in that. Whereas in the first one, your hair was straight and you're wearing like you're wearing a button up shirt, you know, like it's

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah. That's because I was trying to fit in at Holy cross. When I first got there, I was all like, here, let me wear my, Oh God, what was that? Oh you were wearing pearls? Oh my, God I was wearing pearls!

Carly Hill:

I wasn't going to call you out, but yeah

Valerie Earnshaw:

So we're going to need a new photo updated CV. And you've got to like talk about some of your projects and resume, but we'll,

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah.That shirt had French cuffs, by the way, like, what, hey, I was just trying on a different persona that day and it's clear the one that it's not one that stuck. So anyway, so yes, duly noted check and check will ups will update website

Valerie Earnshaw:

Will update website. But what I was noticing was when I was also doing this reflection on like, why aren't we doing that leg sexism research as two women who, you know, are, are well qualified as experts in stigma research. I think we could be doing more sexism research, but we've kind of focused elsewhere. Um, but I did notice that a lot of your service work has focused like on women. At least that's what this dated website was telling me. And just from our conversations, but you know, doing work around what was the program called safer, um, sexual assault, facts, education, and response committee, and, you know, doing some work around bystander intervention as you're mentoring students and stuff. So it looks like, yeah, that some of this kind of focus has been able to be expressed within your sort of service and leadership work within academia and in, in your institution.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah, definitely. I mean, there's only so many hours in the day, so I don't know, I feel like the questions and the work that are most interesting to me and the, uh, unique expertise or skill sets that I can contribute are best matched to

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Like sexual misconduct. It's true. It, I don't know, honest to God. I tell people this all the time when I started that work, like, you know, this was seven years ago now probably I still thought title IX was like, it's so women can play sports. Like I, you know, so even though like, yeah, I came in with like some expertise from, you know, doing stigma research and are broadly, you know, our, our training. Um, I had no way was like, that is not my expertise whatsoever, even though, you know, we've done work in sexism or self objectification. Uh, so I had to like learn a ton on the uptake. And now I feel like I understand, um, you know, about title nine and sort of all of the complex context that, uh, affects what people do on, in, in their community when they are students in particular and um, at any rate. Um, but yeah, I don't know. I mean, like it's, it's an unpopular topic. I mean, sexual misconduct, sexual assault, um, gender based discrimination are not the most. They're not exactly the topics that, uh, faculty in the Academy are clamoring to work on.

Valerie Earnshaw:

And then they make a difference, I'm going to stop sexual assault.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

But I do feel like it's an area where I could have and have had, you know, an important impact. So I am proud of that, but, um, I look forward, I look forward to doing other types of, of work that don't involve that involve other, other questions.

Valerie Earnshaw:

After you saw this whole women being attacked thing, you'll move on. Fixed that, no more.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Check, and check.

Valerie Earnshaw:

What are we, I'm curious, what are we missing when we think about Title IX as just being about sports?

Stephenie Chaudoir:

What are we missing?

Valerie Earnshaw:

Yeah. You said it's about, it's about much more

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Well, fundamentally, you know, in terms of Title IX as a major, you know, landmark, federal legislation that, uh, makes sure that all educational opportunities are equal. Period. If you get federal funding, the onus is on you as leaders of your institution to ensure that there's not gender based discrimination, that's preventing your students from, uh, achieving equitable educational outcomes.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

And that's not preventing, um, your female identified or other gender min, minoritized faculty or staff from, uh, being able to just do their job, like at the end of the, you know, so I think, I, I think I had walked in with this, um, stereotype of like, Oh, it's gender and sports, but no, it's a broad based, uh, policy that at the core of it puts the responsibility on institutions to ensure that if you show up, regardless of your gender identity, you have equal opportunity to get your education to and be a badass scholar and do your job, like do your job. Um, and you know, of course with, um, within the last probably decade or so, uh, title nine has been the centerpiece for all. Well, for the majority of lawsuits and sort of like mobilizing, um, legal rationale as to why, why institutions are liable when they create environments that aren't allowing, uh, women and others to, uh, to just do, just do what they signed up to do, which is like, I came here to learn, or I came here to work as a, your job as an institution to figure out, uh, how your people in policies, uh, are creating an equitable environment period.

Valerie Earnshaw:

When we're harassing women, students and sexually assaulting them. They're not getting the best education that they could get?

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah. Apparently not. I don't know. It's, it's as shocking to me as it is to you I'm sure about, but, um, yeah. You know, uh, if I had a dollar for every time I, I heard directly and indirectly of a, um, usually male, usually a bit older, not ages, but I'm just gonna name it, throw it out there. A faculty member just be like, well, you know, it's really tough when you know, my female students are clamoring all over me for the sex like the defense in, in Title IX cases, you know? And it's just like, hey, the 80's called, like they're convenient narratives for you back, cause no 18 to 22 year old is alike. Trust me. Minds minds are a beautiful, sexy thing, but I'm sorry, if you are a faculty member, this is, this is, this is a PSA to all faculty,

Valerie Earnshaw:

Listen up.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

PSA.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Just, there are enough consenting human beings for your sexual pursuits. There are enough consenting human beings off campus that just safe space, just, don't just not on your campus. Anyone's affiliated with your campus that you're in your class or they used to be in your class. No, there's millions and millions and millions of other consenting adults of your particular, you know, physical, you know, preferences and dah, dah, dah to meet your needs period. So, and then don't that, you know, Oh, the students were at, you know, you just, you had to keep him away, bad them away, sick or whatever, you know, it's just like, come on. What? No, no.

Valerie Earnshaw:

I feel like it could be a really easy decision tree, if you meet her in your class.Yes, No. Period.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah. Well It's so funny. Cause it's like, you know how like Saturday night live did all of these skits after like the heart, like hashtag me too era, Harvey Weinstein and you know, all of these like cascade of like Louis C.K. And you know, all these people were like allegedly engaging in this behavior.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

That's like, you know, and like their, their skits are like, basically like, hey, are you at work? Yes. If you are at work, should your dick answer is no, no, it's not like, should you be talking about any of these sorts of topics? Nope. Just never like even nope, just do yourself a solid and I don't know who needs to hear it. And unfortunately, whoever self-selects and listen to this podcast like this, we're already going to be speaking to the choir, but if there's only one person that you and I, that we can help with this clarity of message. I will feel like we have, like, this was worth our time.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Well, I think what's going to happen is, you know, that eight what's the movie, that 80s movie where somebody has that boombox playing outside of a window,

Stephenie Chaudoir:

is it John Cusack like High Fidelity or something.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Oh yeah yeah yeah , exactly. That's the one. So I think what's going to happen is someone's going to take what you just said and they're just going to stand outside the window of some Professor offices, like walking around campus, just with your blurb going on repeat, I think that this is a call to action for somebody to do that.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah. Or that, that, or the other, you know, the trolls are going to splice the splice, the audio to make it, you know, some really horrible message that I didn't intend to say. And then they're going to publish it in a bunch of like conservative, Uber, conservative rag, magazines, and news outlets that are really just trying to troll faculty on campuses for doing their job.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Well, if we get trolls, that's how we'll know. We've really leveled up.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Oh yeah, that's how you know you are successful, yeah

Valerie Earnshaw:

I've had a couple people who are now looking for when I step on me, comes out maybe by a couple, I mean, like one or two, and they'll email me and be with like these rants about stigma and the Holocaust and all sorts of things. And I'm like, Oh, at first I was like, what's happening? And then I was like, does this mean that I've leveled up? Like, I don't know.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah. Yeah. Somebody with a lot of, yeah. You know, you've made it when somebody with a lot of pent up anger chooses your email account.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Yes, Totally.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Yeah. Yeah. One of the other trolling that I got was after, um, taping a lecture that was posted on the NIH national Institutes of health website, somebody emailed and said, you know, you really gotta work on your voice because, and he was basically like alluding to me, like using kind of like ups speak at the end of my sentences. And he was like, you know, when you talk like that, I think that you're asking questions the entire time. So I was like, dude, for 45 minutes for this 45 minute presentation, when I'm giving you definitions. And I'm talking through research findings, like for 45 minutes, you thought that I was personally asking you questions about like, I was like, what is wrong with you? And so he gave me some really pro tips on how to stop doing that so that he could understand that, you know, I'm not asking him questions the entire time. And it's funny. Cause like, even as I'm telling you this it's that same like sort of self objectification thing that, you know, for self objectification, it's really flipping into thinking about how you look. But even as I'm talking about this, I'm like flipping into thinking about, well, how do I sound? And, Oh my gosh, I really am doing that up speak. And it's like, you can't get away from sounding like a woman.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Right. I mean, basically.

Valerie Earnshaw:

But what's wrong with that?

Stephenie Chaudoir:

he was basically his comments while, while well-intended

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Maybe, you know, could have.

Valerie Earnshaw:

I don't think It's, I really read it as like be quiet little girl. Is how I experienced that.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Right. And while in his heart, perhaps it was well-intended functionally the message that he gave. It sounds like he gave you, at least from what you've shared is, um, stopping being a woman. Yes. Like, Oh, I heard your presentation. And I would like you to try to not be a woman because you've been socialized to, well, A, first of all, it's your voice. Like, whatever your voice is your voice, your pattern of speech and syntax is you? Um, but like, yeah. I mean, what, what, I, I would be curious if, if we were having a conversation with this gentleman, like what did he imagine you would do with that feedback? Huh? You're right. Thank you. Thank you kind, sir, for bringing to my attention that I have a unique pattern of speech, uh, that is mostly uncontrollable and it is who I is. And so now you've given me feedback that you basically hate to hear my voice.

Carly Hill:

So my favorite thing in those situations is to just keep acting like you have no idea what they're talking about. So it doesn't work in email as well. Like, but in person just being like, what do you, what do you mean? Oh no, I don't get it. Like explain it again. And eventually they'll get caught up and they'll, they'll say exactly what they mean. Like he would have said like, I really just wish you would just be quiet and you're like, Oh, there it is. Okay. Do you hear it when you say it? No. Alright, cool. Thanks.

Valerie Earnshaw:

You know, like towards the beginning of the conversation, we were talking a little bit about what does it look like? You know, to be a scientist and it just, this type of trolling and this type of pushback is just feels like the same thing. Like you don't, you sound like a woman, you don't sound like a scientist to me, you know, was sort of my

Valerie Earnshaw:

Take home from that trolling.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah. Well, I'm sorry that that happened. But obviously, I mean, you know, you know that, um, you can't be a woman in and a bad ass scientist. Uh, yeah.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Well, pretty much the next week I decided to start a podcast so clearly wasn't too. You know, I somehow fodder through that. Maybe good social support from you. Yeah,

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Well speaking of pretty intense environments, we wanted to pick your brain about your work in Appalachia. And I did have to Google how to correctly pronounce Appalachia before talking. Did I get it?

Stephenie Chaudoir:

You did. And it's so funny that you say that because, um, so on that project, uh, which we had an amazing team of Stacy Williams and her team at East Tennessee state where like our home, our home crew in Appalachia, and then it was John Pachankis at Yale and then myself and when John and I first traveled, well, let's see, I had been there once before we officially started this project, uh, to East Tennessee to Johnson city. And, um, on our first trip that John and I made as part of the project where we were having our first focus group session, it was very sweet Stacy and her team set us down. Cause we had had the, had lots of calls before that point and whatever. But when we sat down to like finalize the, the focus group scripts and, you know, kinda like whatever set things up, they're like, so here's the thing it's Appalachia not Appalachia or any of the other like random ways that we had said it.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

They're like, it's like Apple, like an Apple, you're eating an Apple and atcha like, I'm going to throw it at you. And I am so glad. Well, first of all, I mean to establish more culture, you know, part of the reason that we had the focus groups was so that these Yankees, um, although I should say John is a native of Louisiana, so he at least has some southern cred to him. Um, yeah. To, to sort of train us Yankees as to how to like, basically try our best to blend in and not like out ourselves, you know, completely, um, when we were doing these focus groups. So they were very Stacy and her team were very sweet to sit us down and be like, no, look before you even embarrass yourself further in front of other humans from Tennessee, you need to know that you're saying it wrong. So that's amazing, but Appalachia, you, you, you see you Googled it or you did whatever.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Yeah. I watched the watch, the video, the YouTube video.

Valerie Earnshaw:

And so how did you even get hooked up with Stacy? How did you meet, how did you, how did you choose this area of Appalachia for this project?

Stephenie Chaudoir:

So if you're willing to listen to the origin story,

Valerie Earnshaw:

Heck yeah.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

The origin story of this study, um, is yeah. The origin story of how this project came to be is it's a combination of both, um, what can happen when you cold call somebody who you have a research crush on or, you know, have like a major respect for, um, and start a dialogue, but basically cold call, uh, actually, yeah, both of these threads are cold calls. So the first cold call was, um, Stacy had a grant and this might've been, this was probably like 2014. Maybe she was finishing up, um, an unrelated grant project and she had some extra funds leftover. And so she wanted, she, she reached out to a bunch of stigma scholars and asked them to come give talks.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

And I was one of them I had never met Stacy. I mean, to be honest, I don't know that I had read much of her work prior to this point, but she had reached out and she was like, Hey, come on. You know, um, I, you know, I have, I'd love to have you down and give a talk and you could come and talk to my grad seminar and yada yada yada. So I'm like, sure, what the heck? So I go down to Johnson city and, um, I have a lovely time meeting with her grad students and, um, and we just have like a really great visit. And, um, and she does all of this really great work, um, um, LGBT, um, minority stress in Appalachia and other areas of stigma. And so it was just like a really cool kind of connection. And then I went home and didn't really think much about it.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

And at the same time I had had this question that had been kind of percolating for years around burden and burden and stigma. And one of the things that's always sort of just stuck out to me in, you know, throughout the years and, you know, lots of other people I'm sure is, um, just that when you move from margin to center, right, even within marginalized communities, it's always, the trend seems to be that the, the more marginalization that you're experiencing, right? Like even within those communities, power moves people out to the edges. And so when we're doing our research, for example, right, there's been all this work in HIV intervention work in particular and other areas saying like, yeah, when we do our work with RCTs, we're getting, you could make an argument that we're getting a particular, um, facet of the community, um, based on maybe economic access or based on literacy access or based on, you know, other characteristics.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

And so, I don't know, I just always had this question about burden and, um, none of my work had really, I think, taken that on explicitly. And so I just sort of had like imagined, like, you know, we have all these like interventions that are pretty easy to deploy, like these writing interventions, like expressive writing the Jamie Pennebaker paradigm where you sit down and you write for 20 minutes for three days. So you basically journal, you do the equivalent of journaling for an hour about your most stressful or traumatic life experience. And, you know, study after study shows these psychological benefits, you know, three, six months out. And so I just sort of like had this curiosity around, like I see so much burden, particularly in the LGBTQ community. Um, and I wonder, and I don't, and I hadn't been familiar with a lot of work, um, focusing on LGBTQ health in rural areas of the U S although it certainly has been going on in pockets, you know, um, um, before this, but I just started to just wonder like, huh, has anyone tried to take the Jamie Pennebaker?

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Like these online writing interventions that don't require a lot of, um, personnel or they're low cost they're easily portable? Has anyone tried to use these as a mental health support to help reduce minority stress and, you know, pretty persistent, um, mental health disparities among LGBTQ young adults in Appalachia, for example, or though I wasn't raised in Appalachia. I was raised in the Midwest and definitely, you know, having lived in different parts of the Midwest, I could say, like, although I don't identify in the LGBTQ community, I definitely like vicariously saw a lot of prejudice, um, you know, towards folks, um, who were, and anyway, just, it was like a curiosity. So I just cold cold did the equivalent of cold call, uh, John Pachankis cause he had published in this area and I was just like, Hey John, you know, love your work, read your stuff.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

I know you've, you know, you had a trial where you did, you know, the expressive writing intervention with gay men. Do you know if anybody's done this in, um, in a rural area of the U S or just in a community where there are, um, significantly fewer, um, role models, social supports, brick and mortar, um, you know, sort of healthcare, mental healthcare support, um, because you know, his, you know, a lot of work has been done in like metropolitan areas of the U S looking at minority stress in particular, where you could argue, um, you have some of the best supports

Valerie Earnshaw:

And also some of your work, which, you know, some of the work that you and Diane and you have continued to do that I think is like, some of the most interesting is looking at this idea of cultural stigma, right? So you have more supports. And then also, right, as you were saying, you have more people in your communities maybe who are, who score higher on these measures of prejudice. And you've shown that when you're, when you're living with an identity, that there's more that the people around you have more prejudice towards, or more stigma towards that you yourself have kind of worse health effects. Right?

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Right. Yeah. I mean, it's, so it's scaled in terms of like each individual within their social ecology has a certain sort of like amount of stress exposure that they're experiencing because of their stigma or their social location. Um, but you know, social ecology is, and communities vary so widely and the amount of prejudice broadly and, uh, stress, stressors that they are creating for people who identify as a member of the LGBTQ community or, you know, any other marginalized status. Um, and so, yeah, I mean, like basically, what can this be a support if, um, if we go to a community where stigma and stress is extremely, extremely high, uh, and you know, is this a tool that will work?

Valerie Earnshaw:

And that's actually, so that's really interesting too, because, you know, it's this little baby writing intervention. I mean, sure that this has, this has shown good effects among college students, or sure. This shows maybe positive effects among people who are living, you know, LGBT folks for living in cities where they might overall have less prejudice in their environments or have greater support networks. So who knows actually, if this little baby I'm calling it little baby, because it seems so like it's short, it's like a really, it's not like eight weeks coming in for counseling. Like it's a small thing that people can do. So this question of can this kind of brief exercise impact people's mental health outcomes positively in this different environment is a, is a really good question. And I think we could hypothesize that if the environment or environmental stressors are like too great that maybe it wouldn't. So anyway.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah, totally. Yeah, no, you could make competing hypotheses and definitely, you know, also from like a basics, like I guess statistical power, uh, scenario, like one of the, like one of the strongest ways to test your hypothesis is to put it kind of in context where it's under the most strain in a sense. So like, um, you know, so scientifically we argued, um, in the grant and elsewhere that like, this is a really important extension, like you were saying of, of expressive writing. And we also had, uh, another, we did a self-affirmation writing condition, um, modeled after the work, um, that, uh, Cohen and Walton and others have done, um, to reduce, uh, academic achievement disparities among African Americans or other racial minorities. And so like, um, so yeah, I mean, really the question we were trying to get at was if you take these writing interventions self-affirmation and expressive writing that have been shown to work elsewhere, uh, mostly in different populations and we adapt them.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

So we did a ton of formative work, um, around, we had two rounds of focus group interviews with, um, emerging adults and community stakeholders living in East Tennessee to make sure, you know, that everything was culturally resonant that we came up with, um, that we came up with writing, you know, scenarios and prompts that you literally use the language of our participants. And, you know, so we really did a lot of rich formative work to make this feel as organic and, um, you know, culturally resonant as we could. And so we found these pretty monster main effects of, um, both the expressive writing and the self-affirmation conditions. So unlike previous, there were two previous trials of expressive writing, uh, one by John Pachankis and one by Robin Lewis at Old Dominion. And both of them had found that expressive writing was beneficial, but they were moderated effects.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

So it was the people who were basically the most closeted that benefited the most. So there was a moderated effect, not really main effects, but we found these pretty, I mean, monster, that's not a scientific term, but like Cohen met with his effect size is actually he met baby. Yeah. And mop up to monster monster being the largest. Yeah. Um, and, uh, yeah, so we found, we found that at a three, three month followup that expressive writing significantly reduced depression, um, and distress psychological distress. And we found that self affirmation condition at a three month followup, um, relative to control significantly reduce suicidality, which that's the first time to our knowledge, anyone's shown actually of any intervention targeting, um, LGBTQ like minority stress. Um, one of, if not the first intervention to show that we can reduce suicidality at a three month followup. Um, and there were also some benefits for substance use behaviors as well, um, with self-affirmation. So, and again, those were main effects and then they were moderated by, um, such that those who experienced the most sort of discrimination, you know, sort of bear more of the burden of minority stressors in their community, that the intervention had even better effects for them,

Valerie Earnshaw:

Which is amazing.

Carly Hill:

Yeah.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Which is totally amazing. And, um, yeah, so it's, you know, it's honest to God, you know, so like when I, so the data are great and you can read about them in, um, JCCP,

Valerie Earnshaw:

Whenever you update your website, continue. We can find them out. We can read about them online and about them online.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Um, yeah. And so it's like really, you know, it was a fantastic project. Uh, we, you know, as hypothesized found these really great effects, um, that there were significant benefits, you know, in, in different ways, but for both of these online writing interventions. And, but honestly like from a personal level, um, I just keep getting blown away. Like, it's sort of like when you, when you look at the data and you're like, you imagine in your mind that it's going to be different, but then you just keep coming back. Like the data keeps like hitting you over the face. Like, it's amazing to me that one hour of writing 20 minutes a day for three different days, and we gave people up to two weeks.

Valerie Earnshaw:

So they only wrote for 60 minutes total autonomy on these topics. Okay. Yeah.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Remind me what the prompts were.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Oh, sure. So the expressive writing prompts were, um, like, you know, life in, um, you know, life in this area can be kind of difficult, um, lots of stressors and there might be discrimination, you know, basically what's your most traumatic or stressful, um, event or experience related to your sexual identity and just right. You know, unstructured, just bright, free flow, free association about that experience. Don't worry about your grammar or punctuation or spelling or anything, but just write, just write for 20 minutes. And we sent them an online, you know, like a link to come with that sort of prompt and, um, ask them to write for 20 minutes. And so there was like a timer and people write.

Valerie Earnshaw:

And just sounds awful. You know, like if you asked me to like, write about some of the worst things that have ever happened to me, I'd be like, really, but I mean, as you are aware, I'm a little bit of an avoidant type probably, but, um, but that's incredible though, that, so, so was it the same prompt over the for the three? So this was like what you're focused on writing for the three time points for that condition?

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah. So in the, my recollection is that the expressive writing condition we had, um, you know, this preamble section about like contextualizing it to sexual identity, but then that prompt was the same for each of the three days. Um, and for day two and then day three, it was like, you know, continue writing about that, you know, um, just kind of where you left off, but for the self-affirmation condition each day, the writing prompts were slightly different and they were based, we picked three examples of, um, minority stressors that came up in our focus groups. Uh, and my recollection I'm going to like blur them together. But the gist of them were that, um, people experienced a experience of, in that scenarios, um, that the person experienced basically being kicked out of their home after they came out to their parent, that they were gay, that they, um, that in their religious community, somebody found out that they were gay and, um, basically socially ostracize them.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

And then there was a scenario where basically like a friend, um, like in a, in a high school kind of context, like somebody finds out that you're gay and know turns on you essentially bullies you, et cetera. And so, um, the prompt there was to, you know, based on your experience, give this person, um, uh, who is gender and sexual identity was matched to the participants, give this person your best advice.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Oh, I love that. That's really neat.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Which is, yeah. Which is, I mean, it, it puts people in the role of being sort of in a position of relative power of like you were the expert. And so using your own life experience, like it's asking people to recall, um, from their own lived experience, but to use it in a way to kinda to help up here who is going through the same situation and really to help them.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Um, what we found that it did is to help, um, from the narratives that we read, at least to help people generate a sense of themselves as like, wow, I'm bad ass. Like I got through that. Like I remember when I was kicked out or I remember when, you know, when this person said that shitty thing to me. And so it's both sort of a recall and an appreciation of like your own life story and where you've been, but also to use it in the service of helping somebody else. So, um, it ended up being a big, also a boon for behavioral health.

Valerie Earnshaw:

That's amazing.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

But yeah, again, I know I'm like, I'm like a broken record, but it's an hour. And yet you would think, you would think research is me search. You would think like I used to have a really good journaling product, practice and throughout college, every single night before I went to bed, I would journal.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

I don't do that now.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

And my research keeps telling me like, Chaudoir.

Valerie Earnshaw:

So yeah, on Monday of this week, 800 of self isolation, quarantine times, I was like, this is awful. Like I had like a Groundhog day moment when I was like, it's just starting over again. And it's Monday, I'm going to write and I'm going to work and that'll be the week. I'll take a day off. And I just had this, like, it's starting over again. And then I was like, why, why am I totally off the rails today? Like I have I am off the rails. And then by the end of the day, I realized, Oh, I haven't opened my journal in a week and I'm not, I haven't done yoga in days. And I was like, Oh, those are the two things that are keeping me on the rails. And like, I opened it up and it had been like, since the previous, like Tuesday, it was just blank.

Valerie Earnshaw:

And I was like, yep, that's the problem. And so, yeah, I got back into it, but it is amazing. Cause it doesn't feel like it doesn't feel like writing 20 minutes, you know, in a day or, or I just do these like little again, little baby gratitude prompts every morning. And like, you know, I write about what am I grateful for and what am I going to do that day to make my make my day great is the actual prompt. And, um, just those like sending three minutes to write down those things, it does, like, it makes my day different, at least within this like within person, um, completely biased observation.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah. This is N of one,

Valerie Earnshaw:

I mean, it was a monster effect size because that was really off the rails after a week of nothing

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Right. Right. And so, yeah, I mean, so definitely like, you know, you're using the science. I mean, I like, I remember you telling me that you're starting your, for that you have been doing your gratitude journal,

Valerie Earnshaw:

You know, I'm telling everybody about it and like have you heard of journaling?

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Yeah. You know, and yet, like, it's good to have the reminder cause it's easy to fall out and, you know, especially when you're doing well, you know, and you got life, you know, you're living your best life. It's easy to be like, I don't need the journal or I don't need the yoga. And then before, you know, it you're like sobbing in the corner, like, you know, trying to figure out where your life went wrong. And then you're like, no it's cause I didn't journal at all,

Stephenie Chaudoir:

But yeah, no. So, you know, the science, the science keeps, uh, keeps pulling,

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Pulling us back and I guess it was the project itself was really fantastic. And we're continuing to, um, write up some of the results. Like I'm currently working on a paper, looking at mediation effects as to why the interventions worked some more on that soon. Um, and, uh, and yeah, and I'm excited about potential next steps. I mean, one of the really, you know, clear, easy implications of this work is that, um, I think there are ways to embed some of these writing or reflection opportunities into curricula or, you know, maybe you're gay straight Alliance or your affinity group on campus, or, you know, there are ways that I think, um, community based organizations can, can leverage some of these practices to just, you know, if that's something that they want to do, like particularly in an area where maybe don't have a lot of LGBTQ affirming mental health care providers or, you know, and there were other restrictions like here is a way of, it costs you essentially nothing other than your time, um, you know, to assemble the space for people to write and, you know, whatever way you, you communicate with them, but it's an easy and effective mental and behavioral health support that, you know, those of us who work in marginalized communities can leverage pretty easily.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

And so I'm really excited about the scalability and the transferability of, uh, what we found. Um, particularly as I said, you know, like in, um, high, high stigma, low resource areas where, um, you know, where there's an amazing, an amazing community and the strength of the LGBTQ community is like, I mean, it was humbling, like brings you to tears to see the sort of compassion and love. Um, like we heard stories of people. Um, so as, especially from our community stakeholders, but basically they conveyed the sense that like, yup. When our, when our LGBTQ young adults come out to their families, like getting kicked out, living in your car is a, is a repercussion for a lot of people. And that there was this network of slightly older, more seasoned, um, folks in the community who were like creating this invisible web of support. So like that they would call and text each other and be like, Hey, you know, so-and-so just came out and now they're on the streets.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Like, do you know of somebody who could take them in or, you know, and, Oh God, it's giving me chills. Just like telling that story again. But we heard, you know, all of these, like on the one hand, intense, um, stories of victimization and, um, mistreatment and bullying and, you know, especially from within the religious community, the people who are supposed to like the places that are supposed to love and support you the most being the biggest perpetrators of discrimination and prejudice. And so being humbled by the scope of those minority stressors, um, in the environment and yet also just being completely humbled by, um, like the community and the strength of the community to come together and to support each other. It was just, I mean, it was, it was very beautiful and, um, yeah, and, and you, you would be so lucky on some level to, you know, have people like that who have your back, you know, like it was really great, really beautiful to hear. Um, so yeah, some good science, also John and Stacy, just a shout out to them. Like I've told them this to their face many times, but, um, really one of the best research collaborations I've ever had in terms of really great science and just really great humans and, you know, really passionate, super competent, incredible people to work with. And it was a reminder of, um, you know, like I've had these experiences working with you Val

Valerie Earnshaw:

Of course,

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Of course and, and, and others as well. But, um, you know, like there's really something magical. I know scientists, you know, we're not supposed to talk about magical thinking as much, but, um, there's really something, um, emergent and like magical that happens when you get like really good people together.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Oh for sure.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

Um, so I was really glad to have that experience.

Valerie Earnshaw:

That's the additional benefit, right? Leveling up into tenure. I mean, not only do you get to probably stop worrying a little bit about what impact factor journal do I need to publish in, or what kind of science do I need to do to get into that impact, big impact factor journal, or very fancy journal, but I can, you can also kind of chill and reassess and think about who do I want to be working with and what do I want those collaborations to look like? And, you know, nobody's got time, nobody's got bandwidth to work with, you know, on collaborations and move teams that aren't uplifting and lovely and wonderful. Yeah, absolutely.

Stephenie Chaudoir:

I think you've summed it up by saying like tenure and, you know, progress in your field. It gives you a lot of degrees of freedom. Otherwise, for those in the audience who like a good stats pun,

Valerie Earnshaw:

I think all of them.

Carly Hill:

All of them

Stephenie Chaudoir:

If you don't like a good stats pun, please stop listening. Yes.

Valerie Earnshaw:

So that was Chaudoir

Carly Hill:

WD Chaudoir

Valerie Earnshaw:

WD Chaudoir, yeah. So her middle name is definitely R for Renee. So, but I have gotten her a WD necklace. She's actually also gotten me a WD necklace. She did at first I copied her. Um, and she was the originator of world domination back in grad school, which is now the tagline for our lab and most other, you know, sciencing that we do.

Carly Hill:

As it should be.

Valerie Earnshaw:

So, um, so she's amazing.

Carly Hill:

Totally.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Yeah. So we talked about using, um, pinatas for science celebrations for this episode, and I thought it might be really important to give like a good breakdown to folks about how to best use a pinata when celebrating science.

Carly Hill:

For sure. I have many questions myself. Like what was, what did you feel the pinata with?

Valerie Earnshaw:

Oh yeah. Okay. All right. Well we should back up.

Valerie Earnshaw:

So first step one to pinata science celebrations is to achieve some sort of science related milestone, like defend a dissertation, get yourself tenured, publish a paper, do something sciency, that's your step one step two is to acquire your pinata. And I recommend actually kind of specific kind of pinata for this. You want the kind that has a blank side so that you can decorate it.

Carly Hill:

Oh, okay.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Yeah. Which leads us into step three, which is to decorate your pinata with momentos and you know, that are somewhat related to the milestone. Like, so around a dissertation time, or if you're celebrating your dissertation, you can print out the dissertation and you can paste it all over. I think for Steph's promotion, we, and by we, I mean her lovely husband, Joe, uh, printed out like documents from her promotion and tenure materials. Cause you have to write up all of this stuff about yourself.

Valerie Earnshaw:

So he printed that up and we pasted it on and I think maybe some papers. And then I'm just going to put this out there. You can also bedazzle it a little bit if you'd like,

Carly Hill:

Wow. I think this is, I think we've officially mentioned bedazzling on every podcast episode that we've recorded here for it.

Valerie Earnshaw:

That'll be our bit, it'll keep coming up. It'll be like the bedazzling section for science. So you can add stickers. You can do jewels. You can really go all out, make your pinata shine.

Carly Hill:

Wow.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Next you want to fill your pinata. This is step four. So get creative. So depending on your crowd, you want to know your crowd. You can do candy, you can do mini libations. Um, my favorite is those like light up rings because usually you're, you're knocking down your pinata around evening time. So if you have like anything that lights up, I think that is a good time.

Carly Hill:

That's true. That's something I did not consider.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Yeah. Alright. Step number five. Smash the pinata. Here I would recommend channeling all of your background practice of smashing the patriarchy. If you're not practiced in smashing the patriarchy, I'm afraid that you might not do as well at this part, but you know, practice makes perfect.

Carly Hill:

You also probably don't deserve to smash the opinion if that's the case too. So,

Valerie Earnshaw:

Yeah, if you're, you know, if the thing that you're celebrating has nothing to do with smashing the patriarchy, then maybe you shouldn't be doing the pinata celebration and then step six, you just want to like enjoy the spoils of your pinata.

Carly Hill:

Well, hang on. We'll go back. So how, what do you use? Do you just use a baseball bat to hit?

Valerie Earnshaw:

Yeah. Good question. We have used baseball bats in the past. So Steph is also on a softball team.

Valerie Earnshaw:

I think that they're the best softball team in Massachusetts from what I hear. Totally championship winning. Really excellent. Well, you heard it here first. They are the best softball team in Massachusetts and in the state of Massachusetts. And so she had a softball bat ready to go is a softball bat that are different than a baseball bat. I don't know. I believe so. Yeah. It's probably a little bit wider. I think so. Yeah. Well, well incidentally, I think that might be better. For pinata and patriarchy smashing.

Carly Hill:

Do you have to make the person spin around, like before what's the protocol? Yeah. Great question. So we blindfolded her. I don't remember if we spun her, but there was definitely blindfolding involved. Yeah.

Carly Hill:

We're shaping up for a good time.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Yes. Yeah. And although I'm giving you these instructions, like most things that, you know, I learned this from Steph, Steph I think was the originator of pinata science celebrations. So, but I have now decorated, including bedazzling to science celebration pinatas, for Chaudoir. So my time's coming,

Carly Hill:

I love that, the theme here is that a shut door opens up a whole new world of things for you all the time. Like pinata, guacamole, yoga, all of these things. And I've always known you as a pinata, guacamole, loving yoga doing person.

Valerie Earnshaw:

So yeah, no, it'd be like really weird. I mean, who even knows who I would be if it wouldn't, if it wasn't for seriously. I know. Yeah. Other than the whole PhD thing, stress, probably the best thing about grad school that came out of grad school.

Carly Hill:

I believe that I can see, I can see why.

Valerie Earnshaw:

For sure. Yeah. So huge. Thanks to her for joining us for this episode.

Carly Hill:

Absolutely.

Valerie Earnshaw:

Thanks to the Stigma and Health Inequities lab at the University of Delaware for their help with the podcast, including Natalie Brousseau, Kristina Holsapple, and Saray Lopez. A very special thanks to Alissa Leung who researched this episode for us and thanks to city girl for the music for the podcast. And thanks to all for listening. We'll see you next week.

Speaker 4:

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