Through the whole process of our survey of 20,000 women, we’ve been committed to doing this to academic standards.
We don’t want to just be another book that speaks about our opinion; we wanted to take our survey and do it right, and then submit it to peer review so that it gets in journals.
We want to raise the bar about what counts as research in the Christian realm, so that it’s assumed that you can no longer just make claims without having data to support it.
Well, our dataset has now been all tidied up and submitted to the Association of Religious Data Archives–the ARDA!
I’m going to let Joanna, our data person and co-author of The Great Sex Rescue, explain this:
I feel like our data set is going to be a debutante at a coming out ball.
I realize it’s ridiculous to imagine what amounts to a very intense excel spreadsheet wearing white gloves and walking down a spiral staircase to the applause of her social sphere (other spreadsheets? Computer code?) but I have become very fond of this data set.
Because it isn’t a simple spreadsheet; it’s the aggregate data from over 20,000 women. Each data point is a woman’s story and running statistics has allowed me to get glimpses into the broader narratives we can learn from this dataset.
Of course, we wrote up a lot of results in The Great Sex Rescue. And more stats from the data set are in all of the books that are ongoing from Sheila, Keith, Rebecca, and me. I’m working hard on getting our data published in peer review journals and Sheila and I will be presenting our findings at a physiotherapy conference early next year.
I continue to learn so much from running stats from this data set and I feel so profoundly honored to have been trusted with so many stories from so many women.
But there’s only so much I can do. I’ve got limited time and limited knowledge. Plus I can’t be in contact with everyone who would like to use our data set. There are so many more insights that can be gleaned from the data and I’d love to let some other researchers “run with the football.”
That’s why we were so excited when Professor Andrew Whitehead at Indiana University (Purdue) asked us to put our dataset on the database he runs, the Association of Religious Data Archive. We’re posting a de-identified dataset using the US subset of respondents (that means all information that could possibly identify any participant, including the open-ended responses, were not included). I’ve spent a lot of the summer getting some coding done to make the dataset ready for other researchers to use it and I’ve finally hit submit to the team at the ARDA.
Having our dataset at the ARDA means that any researcher will be able to freely download the dataset for their research purposes. Additionally, frequency stats will be available at the ARDA website for journalists and lay people to use if they need to access information about the role of religion in American life.
We are so excited about this opportunity, and I am so excited for other researchers to use my beloved dataset.
Having our dataset at the ARDA means other researchers can use it.
We barely scratched the surface of all the things we can learn from our set when we ran The Great Sex Rescue, because we were only asking very specific questions. But here’s other things that people could learn using our data, just as examples:
- How does Christian schooling/homeschooling affect marital satisfaction/sexual satisfaction later in life?
- How does your mother’s/caregiver’s handling of puberty affect you long term?
- How does level of education affect marital satisfaction?
- How does division of labor affect marital and sexual satisfaction?
- If she is the main breadwinner, how does that affect marital and sexual satisfaction?
- How does self-identifying as an evangelical affect higher education? Marital and sexual satisfaction? Homeschooling?
And so on, and so on.
We don’t have time to ask all these questions or to develop more, but other people might. And because our dataset was one of the largest that’s ever been done (Andrew Whitehead who runs the ARDA was so excited about it), lots of people are likely to use our dataset for their own academic journal articles.
We’re currently working (and by “we”, I mean “Joanna”) on a paper collaborating with Andrew Whitehead to introduce our dataset to the world, where we’ll have five big picture findings. We’re also working closely with a physiotherapy department from the University of Central Arkansas. We have a graduate student who is helping us do qualitative analysis of some of our long-form answers, and we’ll be presenting at the American Physiotherapist Convention in February on our findings on vaginismus. We’re also working on a paper on vaginismus, since after we finished The Great Sex Rescue we ran some more numbers, and found even more interesting things!
This is a huge deal, and I’m so proud–especially of Joanna.
You all don’t hear a lot about Joanna, since she’s up in the Arctic and she’s the mom of two toddlers, and so it’s hard to get her on the podcast. She doesn’t have childcare, and trying to time things with her naps is difficult (though if you join our Patreon, Joanna is often on the unfiltered podcast and runs all the book club podcasts!).
But Joanna is a brainiac. Seriously. She’s scary smart. I tend to let Joanna decide what podcasts I start listening to and what books I start reading because she just is very intellectually curious and fun.
I’ve told this story before, but it’s worth telling again how we met up.
A long time ago, in a land far, far away (well, Pennsylvania) lived Joanna. She participated in something called “Bible quizzing” with the Alliance Church, where every year you basically memorize a different book of the Bible and compete on remembering tiny facts about everything. She was very good, and made it to “internationals” (which was really just the best quizzers from Canada and the United States, so more “Northern North America” rather than internationals, but internationals sounds better).
There she met a boy from another land far, far away (Saskatchewan), named Josiah. He was competing for Canada MidWest. They started talking, and love bloomed.
Around this time my daughters started quizzing with Eastern Canada. They both did well, and made internationals, too.
My biggest memory of Internationals 2010, our first year there, was actually Josiah in the final round. I just rememeber one particular answer he gave, and was quite impressed with him, though I didn’t know his name at the time.
My youngest daughter Katie got to be quite good friends with Joanna’s younger sister Gracie, and when Joanna and Josiah married, Katie and Rebecca were invited down to help do the hair for the wedding (Katie’s seriously good at wedding hair). So even though I barely knew them, I was actually at Joanna and Josiah’s wedding.
Fast forward many years, and Josiah is looking for a law school clerkship position, but they’re all filled up in Saskatchewan, so they started looking in Ontario, and didn’t have much luck. Joanna messaged Rebecca out of the blue and asked if we may have any contacts, because they were just going through everyone they knew trying to find a job.
I wrote to a lawyer that I do know quite well, and Josiah got a job.
When they arrived in Ontario, Joanna was pregnant. She did some work finishing up her Master’s degree in the fall, but by the time Mari arrived (3 days after Katie’s wedding, and, yes, Joanna was there), she had finished academia and was looking for something to do from home.
So she started helping me out on the blog a bit, with writing posts and researching things. Nothing major.
Then, when we started writing about Love & Respect, and we began to be inundated by women telling us stories about how the book enabled abuse in their marriage, Joanna said to me, “Sheila, just let me run a mixed methods analysis of the comments and prepare it into a report.” I didn’t really know what she was talking about, but I let her run with it (though, to be honest, I was kind of a pain to her because she wanted to do it right and I wanted to get it done, and I kept making her hurry up and she kept saying, “no, it has to be right.”)
That’s what we sent in to Focus on the Family that they ignored.
A few months later, in the spring of 2019, Joanna and I were talking and she said, “It’s too bad I can’t just go back and get my Ph.D., because then I could look at the public health effects of evangelical teachings on women’s marital and sexual satisfaction.” And I said, “we could get a book contract to do that!”
And that’s what we did.
But the thing is–I could never have written The Great Sex Rescue alone.
Never in a million years. I don’t have the skill set.
When we decided to do the survey, I had two people with unique skill sets working for me who could do things I couldn’t do. Rebecca had taken multiple courses on psychometrics (or study and survey design–here’s a post where she helps me explain what’s wrong with a survey question in For Young Women Only), and Joanna actually knows how to run complex statistical analyses.
I can write, but that’s about it. Without Joanna and Rebecca I couldn’t have done this.
So when I think back to us starting Bible quizzing,
I never could have dreamed how important that ultimately would be in my life, for very strange reasons.
And now our dataset is live–or about to be.
And it can be used in academic studies. And we really can change the conversation about sex and marriage in the evangelical world, and raise the bar. And I’m grateful.
By the way–you may all be wondering–“But how did Joanna end up in the Arctic?”
Well, Josiah lost his job in Belleville (where we live) because of COVID, but then he got a job with the government of Nunavut (one of our Canadian arctic territories). He loves his job, and it’s been a great change for him, even if they’re so far away.
He likes to say that even though it looked like they were moving to Belleville for HIS job, God had other plans. If they hadn’t ended up here, I would never have partnered with Joanna (I didn’t really know her that well).
So often things aren’t what they seem–and you don’t understand God’s leading until after the fact!
Want to Support Our Research?
Have any questions about our dataset? Or have you ever seen God work in mysterious ways–that could only be understood afterward? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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