What Our Research and the Thalidomide Campaign Have in Common

by | May 23, 2023 | Libido, Research | 40 comments

The Thalidomide public health campaign and our research into evangelical sex and marriage teachings

Why do people hate our research for The Great Sex Rescue so much?

Well, really hate our research for everything, including our new book She Deserves Better!

Last week, a Twitter storm broke out with me at the center of it. Podcast host Patrick Miller invited Josh Butler, author of a really bad book about sex, on to defend his book. While on the podcast, Butler quoted Shaunti Feldhahn saying that our research for The Great Sex Rescue was flawed–implying my critiques of his book were unfounded.

I asked Patrick if I could defend our research on his podcast, since he allowed an unfounded accusation from one of his friends on his Truth Over Tribe podcast, but Patrick refused, and the internet got pretty enraged at him (I was actually quite humbled at all the support).

Somehow our research was front and center again, and I thought I’d take the time today to answer some common questions about our research–and why our approach matters.

The most common criticism is this:

“But you just surveyed people who agreed with you.”

When people say this, it means two things:

  1. They don’t know a thing about our research
  2. They don’t know a thing about basic statistics

Let me explain: Our primary findings are based on odds ratios–seeing how a particular belief changes the likelihood of a particular outcome. So, for instance, how does belief in the obligation sex message affect vaginismus rates? Orgasm rates? A woman’s libido?

We could only perform odds ratio analyses if we had respondents in our survey who believed different things. If everyone believed the same things, we would have nothing to compare!

We had to have people who believed the obligation sex message and people who didn’t believe it.

Perhaps Shaunti Feldhahn, whose critique has gone far and wide, doesn’t understand this, because all of her surveys that I have examined merely use frequency stats. She doesn’t do the higher level statistical analysis we do. She also admits in the first edition of For Women Only that she doesn’t understand stats.

In actuality, we had far more conservative/complementarian women in our respondent set than we did women who agree with us. In fact, we had to start promoting our survey link in egalitarian spaces to have something to compare them to.

Thus, the bulk of the people in our survey did not agree with my theology of marriage or sex. 

And more importantly, if they had, we wouldn’t have been able to do our research.

How did you get your respondents?

For The Great Sex Rescue, we used a surveying method called “snowballing”, where we recruit some people, but then we ask them to recruit others, and so on. That way as many people as possible aren’t actually recruited by me, and our outside our circles.

We had over 200 collector links, or unique URLs, that we could trace when we did our survey, so over 200 people were recruiting for us (interestingly, Shaunti Feldhahn, who has been most vocal questioning our methodology, was originally one of these).

This was not a random sample, no, but it didn’t need to be. We weren’t looking at the general population. We wanted to find information about evangelical married women, so we had to focus on recruiting them.

How did you limit bias?

We used, when possible, “previously validated question sets”, or questions that had already been used in other studies to measure something and were found to be a good measure of that thing. So we used previously validated questions for marital satisfaction; sexual satisfaction; self-esteem, etc.

We never asked people if they thought something harmed them. We merely asked if they had believed it, and then we measured the harm based on marital and sexual satisfaction and other outcome variables.

When we measured common evangelical teachings that we thought could do harm, we never said that they were harmful. We shared both beliefs we thought were healthy and those we thought were harmful, and mixed them up so people wouldn’t be able to see what we were trying to measure.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly:

Academic circles have accepted our methodology and findings.

We have Health Science Research Ethics Board approval (the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. IRB) from Queen’s University.

Our sampling methodology and survey content were deemed worthy of inclusion at the Association of Religion Data Archives, run by major U.S. universities.

And we had such ground-breaking findings on the roots of sexual pain among evangelical women that we were asked to present at the American Physical Therapy Convention last year.

No methodology is perfect, and there is certainly always something to critique. But the broad critiques that are being made are not accurate or fair, especially when you look at our dataset size. Most peer reviewed papers are based on a respondent set of 250-1000. We had 20,000 for The Great Sex Rescue, and 7000 for She Deserves Better. That’s almost unheard of except in big government surveys, so this was actually a big deal.

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What, exactly, do people disagree with about our research?

When people say that they disagree with our research from The Great Sex Rescue in particular, though, I’m always curious as to what, exactly, they disagree with. We had 6 huge big picture findings. Which ones do they not like?

    Our 6 Big Picture Findings from The Great Sex Rescue

    1. We found a 47 point orgasm gap between evangelical men and women, with 95% of men almost always or always reaching orgasm in a given encounter, compared with just 48% of women, which is in line with other studies.
    2. We found an incidence rate of vaginismus, or sexual pain, of 22.7% among evangelical women, with 7% finding penetration impossible.
    3. We found that the obligation sex message–the idea that a woman must give her husband sex when he wants it–is one of the biggest predictors of vaginismus. It also lowers orgasm rates and marital satisfaction.
    4. We found that the belief that “all men struggle with lust; it’s every man’s battle” lowers a woman’s libido and orgasm rates; lowers trust in her husband; lowers marital satisfaction. Some effects hold true even if she was merely taught it but never believed it.
    5. We found that the belief that “a woman should have frequent sex with her husband to keep him from watching porn” lowers orgasm rates and marital satisfaction and increases rates of sexual pain.
    6. We found that the belief that “boys will push your sexual boundaries, so girls need to be the gatekeeper” has effects long-term, making it harder for women to get aroused and making orgasm more challenging.

    The Great Sex Rescue

    When people say they don’t like our research, what are they upset about?

    Do they want to keep the obligation sex message? Do they see women as sin management tools for men, “methadone” for their porn habits? Do they think the orgasm gap & vaginismus rates aren’t a big deal?

    Or are they just upset because we’re holding people accountable for teaching stuff we now know is harmful?

    I think when people say we did our survey wrong, they’re not actually upset about our findings. They’re upset that we’re pointing out where harm has been done. So next time you hear someone criticize our research, ask them: What finding do you not like?

    "A groundbreaking look into what true, sacred biblical sexuality is intended to be. A must-read." - Rachael Denhollander

    What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?

    What if the messages that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these toxic teachings?

    It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.

    Great Sex Rescue

    Is our critique of evangelical marriage & sex books merely outrage, or could it be better classified as a public health initiative?

    We’ve also been accused over the last week of merely making money out of outrage. Is that what this is about?

    Let me tell you about the drug Thalidomide.

    Thalidomide was on sale between 1957-1963, largely as a miracle cure for morning sickness. It was developed as a sedative, but people found it helped with nausea–as well as the cold and flu. They tested it on mice and found no side effects, so it was declared completely safe. The German manufacturer licensed it to be used by many different companies, and so the ingredient was marketed under 37 different brand names.

    When doctors started to see problems, there was no central regulating body to report to. Individuals were saying, “there’s something wrong here.”

    However, it took several years, and more than 10,000 babies born with severe congenital anomalies (most commonly missing or deformed limbs) before governments realized there was an issue.

    Part of the problem was that not everyone who took it was harmed; many benefited greatly! Convincing people it did harm took time because that harm wasn’t universal–and many thought the drug was amazing.

    The UK took it off the market but then went the extra mile. Because so many people had it in their medicine cabinets and were handing it out to sisters and friends without thinking about it, the UK government started an ad campaign asking people to get rid of it. They also started the Yellow Flag system, where doctors could report previously unknown side effects to a central place. Drug regulation began in earnest, requiring companies to show that the drug was safe before the drug could be sold.

    There’s a parallel with marriage and sex advice in the evangelical world.

    It has been prematurely declared safe because it didn’t hurt some, but the powers that be didn’t look at how it affected those who were most vulnerable or ask, “is this advice good for women?”

    Yet evangelicalism’s sex teachings are actually causing harm.

    When I critique books or authors, we can think of it like a Thalidomide campaign.

    I can see the harm being done, and I want to prevent it. The only way to do that is to warn people away from the toxic teachings, and the source of those teachings.

    When people get upset about that, I picture them like doctors refusing to heed the warnings about Thalidomide. And, yes, that makes me angry, because we should all care when people are being hurt. Many would rather I just be nice & only teach what’s healthy, rather than calling out the unhealthy. But just as the UK had to rid the country of Thalidomide–including that which was in medicine cabinets—so we also have to root out the unhealthy teachings for the church to be safe.

    If harmful evangelical teachings about sex are still spread and internalized, people will still be hurt. When harm is being done, it must be stopped, even if doing so is messy and doesn’t seem “nice.”

    Download Our Marriage Survey

    Join 40,00 others and let's change the evangelical conversation about sex

    Our research is like the Thalidomide public health campaign

    What do you think? Why are people so quick to criticize our methodology? Do you have any other questions? Let me know in the comments!

    Our Response to Common Accusations Against Us

    Accusations about how we should treat other authors

    Accusations that we're just being mean and need to be nicer

    Accusations that we're too picky

    Written by

    Sheila Wray Gregoire


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    Sheila Wray Gregoire

    Author at Bare Marriage

    Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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    1. Mara R

      “Why do people hate our research… so much?”

      Those in power want to keep their power and prestige, misunderstanding that Godliness is not for financial and social gain. Your research shows how those in power are NOT reflecting Jesus, His Two Greatest Commandments, the Golden Rule, and a myriad of other important things He said that opposed the patriarchy of His day.
      The patriarchy of the present day wants to have their cake and eat it too. They want all the things that the Scribes and Pharisees had but they want to be thought of as holy and loving like Jesus and His apostles and disciples. They don’t want to face the facts that THEY are now the Scribes and Pharisees who lay up heavy burdens on women in order to keep and maintain power. It hurts their heads to have the mirror held up to their faces to see that do NOT represent Jesus in this. It hurts their heads to see that maybe that they are the bad guys in this. And they simply can’t stand for it. How dare you point out that they live in a fantasy, a house of cards, a pseudo Christianity.

      That is why they hate your research. Because they like their self-delusion and they want to keep it, just like their fathers before them.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        This is exactly the way I think of it too.

    2. Angharad

      If your methodology is wrong then they can ignore you. Simple.

      Actually, I don’t think that many people really do think your research is poor – they wouldn’t need to get so mad at you if it were. All they would have to do would be to point out the flaws. People tend to start hurling abuse and fake accusations when they realise their own argument is weak!

      I suspect some men get angry because they feel threatened. Guys who have enjoyed being able to act any way they like toward women without needing to be accountable because ‘men are made that way’ are likely to get mad when someone tells them that actually, yes they can do something about their behaviour and they should because that’s not the way God intended them to be.

      As for the women who oppose you, it’s well documented that those who have been abused often turn into abusers. I wonder if that is the root cause behind the behaviour of some of these women. They have been abused by these teachings over so many years, and now they are mad at the thought that other women won’t have to suffer the same way.

      I don’t comment on your Facebook page because I have a lot of non Christian friends I’m linked up to there, and I don’t want to make them aware of the kind of stuff you are challenging as I worry it will put them off finding out more about my faith! But I do follow and read, and I often find the comments very enlightening – some of the women who comment negatively come across as hysterical and borderline unbalanced, they are so outraged by your writings. Sadly, I suspect those are the women who most need to hear what you are saying. But they won’t listen, because acknowledging you are right means that all the pain they have gone through was for nothing – they weren’t suffering because it was what God wanted for them, they were suffering because human beings had given them false teaching.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I think you’re right that many of these outraged women have actually been hurt themselves.

        It’s like the phenomenon of what happens when a daughter decides to get divorced because of abuse, and the mother often pushes back the most. And when you get down to it, it can be because if the daughter is justified in leaving, then the mother would have been justified to have left 30 years ago. But she didn’t. And she endured 30 years of misery that she didn’t need to. That’s a hard thing to admit to yourself, so it’s easier to blame the daughter.

    3. Jen

      Spot on, Sheila. It takes great humility to admit we’ve done harm, and surely that’s where many of your critics are right now – struggling against pride to really hear you. The pain from processing unintentional harm is big, and if confession needs to happen in a public space (because the teachings were public) it’s going to take double – or triple – the humility and stamina.

      The truth is also trying to push through a decades long mindset; it’s almost like your initiative is kicking off mass, community -wide CBT. Cutting new thinking routes is always laborious. You are creating change – what incredibly important work. Standing up for the oppressed is never easy. Thank you! 💕

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Thanks, Jen!

    4. Mara R

      And on question two, I love how you reframe it away from their dismissive narrative.

      They want to control the conversation with the same-o same-o tropes that have worked for generations to get women to sit down, shut up, and accept the oppression of men.
      Thank goodness, those days are coming to an end.

      As far as the female promoters, yes, they may have been abused and so they now abuse.

      Also, there is the “token female” political structure at work.
      At certain churches and similar spaces that actually allow the female voice, they have to control it. So they choose their token females that will follow the party line. This could be a pastors wife or and women’s ministry coordinator. These women are allowed a seat at the table because they will eat the food given, even if toxic, in order to hold onto their unstable position.

      Spaces like this that are mostly female except for our few BILs (brothers in love) really upset the apple cart and have to be minimized and dismissed at all costs. Doesn’t matter how superior your research, knowledge, ethics, and integrity are.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, that’s what I’ve seen too. Joshua Butler, for instance, says that a lot of women reviewed his manuscript (and I have no reason to doubt this is true). But he is in an entirely male dominant environment. Any women there would have to have internalized these ideas to rise to the top.

        • CMT

          “Any women there would have to have internalized these ideas to rise to the top.”

          I recently heard a new-to-me term that describes this so well: the “patriarchal bargain.” As I heard it explained, it means that in male-dominated spaces, women often find the only way to gain any influence or acceptance at all (or sometimes just protect themselves or their families) is to buy into the system.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yes, that’s a great term for it! If women buy in, they can actually amass quite a lot of power and prestige themselves, in their own circles.

      • Sam

        I want to thank you for not being nice. Niceness allows predators to go unchecked. It’s evil what some of these authors and pastors are promoting and I don’t remember ever reading a passage that exhorts us to to be nice in the face of evil.

    5. CMT

      I wonder if part of the pushback is that people are uncomfortable applying scientific reasoning to what they see as tenets of faith? I know it seemed really novel, in a refreshing way, to me when I first encountered your work. But some people might have a different reaction to that.

      • Nathan

        That might be part of it. In other words, they’re saying that their beliefs are directly from God and the Bible, so any “scientific” research to the contrary is meaningless. I think that some of their attitude is no doubt linked to this, although I also believe that most of it is rooted in their desire to keep their power and income flow by promoting the same stuff and stopping any voices in opposition.

        • Kay

          This has been my experience. When I tried to point out teachings that cause harm, the church’s elders responded with “It doesn’t matter how it makes you feel; it’s just the Truth.”

          I believe they have different moral foundations. My primary moral framework is care (versus harm), but theirs is authority and “purity,” (aka adherence to their authority). My driving questions are: does this lead to flourishing or harm? Theirs is “Does this uphold our authority or undermine it?” And that is how they define good and evil, mistaking their authority for God’s. Sheila’s findings about harm undermine the authority of their teachings, therefore the findings must be labeled bad/evil.

          • CMT

            “I believe they have different moral foundations. My primary moral framework is care (versus harm), but theirs is authority and “purity,” (aka adherence to their authority).”

            Spot on. I get very wary when pastors or teachers emphasize deference to authority as a primary virtue. It makes me think of that meme of Cartman from South Park yelling, “You will respect mah authoriteh!”

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            That’s really insightful, Kay!

          • Bernadette

            “It doesn’t matter how it makes you feel; it’s just the Truth.”

            And what is this “it” they are talking about? Their opinion!

          • SHH

            Kate, that is such a profound observation! I literally just heard that in a sermon on Sunday: it doesn’t matter if it makes you feel uncomfortable; it’s Truth! God doesn’t want you to be happy; he wants you to follow Truth.
            (It threw me into existential crisis for the next three days, but that’s another story.)
            But honestly, even with the Bible in common, we have different ways of deciding what Truth is, like you said.
            And if following God’s truth means purity and submitting to authority, then you can’t question that. Any pain you feel must just be the “crucifying of the flesh.”
            But if your standard of Truth is what causes harm (or loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself), then you CAN question these teachings.

        • CMT

          “they’re saying that their beliefs are directly from God and the Bible, so any “scientific” research to the contrary is meaningless”

          Yes. Some interpretations of the Bible fail to recognize that they are, in fact, interpretations. Which is where you end up getting slapped with “well, you just don’t believe the Bible then.”

          And yes, the power and money angle complicates things just a tiny bit.

    6. Phil


      First off let me say I am sorry for your rough time. I find the argument that has been used for GSR and SDB interesting. Why? Because it is just OPINION. They have no proof. Nor do they do the work to prove it. I recall even my own issues with not really wanting to investigate research but instead take it at face value or totally disregard it. I can’t recall the author who’s stuff you were showing about a year ago, but I threw out the data and didn’t understand what I was looking at and so I came up with the idea that the author was just trying to confuse the reader with a bunch of data to make their point. In fact, if I recall correctly the author had some bad data but some of it was correct and or at least semi valid info. I did zero work to come up with my opinion other than throw it out because I was too lazy to do any work. That I think is part of the issue. The other part? Ego. People like to be right. People do not like to eat their hat. So, you will have to defend your work just like any other scientist. I always think about the planet thing. How we grew up thinking there were only 9 planets. Science even had the backing for it (BASED ON THE METHODS THEY HAD) – All that aside Sheila – here are my thoughts. Harm is the key word. If I take an action that harms just 1 person, then I need to make a correction so that does not happen again. These authors do not NEED ANY THING EXCEPT 1 PERSON TO SAY THEY WERE HARMED BY WHAT THEY HAVE WRITTEN (whether they intended to harm or not) I am sure these authors have received such an email at this point. Regardless, I am called to go after the ONE – Leave the 99 to get the ONE. My question is why don’t these authors prove their work? Why don’t they spend time showing how their work has been helpful and has not harmed anyone? Seems The Bare Marriage Team vrs the rest of the folks all want to double down. Who is right? Well….God will judge. The Fruit is the answer, Sheila. Sometimes it takes a long time for the Fruit to be revealed to be bad/a fake. That is unfortunate but is reality. I say keep up the fight as this is what we should also do. STAND UP FOR JESUS. Stand up for those who have been harmed. Carry other’s burdens. No, it is not easy Sheila. There are many behind you including me. The key to knowing if you are correct, is the Fruit. I don’t know about you, but I have witnessed it. No not money. Screw that. It’s the joy of others thanking you for your work. Its those who read and recognize they have been harmed and there is hope. It is those who are HEALING and TELLING OTHERS. IT IS THE PRESENCE OF JESUS> (PERIOD) For this is I KNOW IS TRUE. HE IS PRESENT HERE.

    7. Estelle

      I took part in the survey after seeing it promoted on social media and then became a regular reader of your blog.

    8. Nathan

      > > Because it is just OPINION. They have no proof. Nor do they do the work to prove it

      They are the direct voice of God and the Bible. They don’t NEED proof. (pause to roll eyes here).

    9. Lisa Johns

      “Flawed research?” Hahaha!
      Here’s some interesting material from the ACA Code of Ethics, by which all professional counselors are required to operate (I believe this applies to researchers as well, and I think you guys meet the criteria nicely):
      “If counselors [and researchers] discover significant errors in their published research, they take reasonable steps to correct such errors in a correction erratum or through other appropriate publication means.” … such as withdrawing books from publication and publicly stating that you were wrong, as well as working to correct misinformation. (Thank you, Sheila!) There are several authors out there who might benefit by following your example instead of criticizing you.
      “Counselors [and researchers] practice only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, state and national professional credentials, and appropriate professional experience.” In other words, if you have a degree in economics, don’t represent yourself as a trained researcher and publish a book that basically falls in the category of sociology.
      I think there is a lot of overweening pride amongst a few of your critics, when they could reasonably be accused of acting both unprofessionally AND unethically.
      And it is a bad reflection on churches and organizations that platform them.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire


    10. Jennifer

      I think all the commenters thus far have touched on accurate reasons for the strong pushback against the GSR and now SDB research within the evangelical community.
      I am in academia (although in the humanities, not the sciences), and I think there is such a strong distrust within conservative evangelicalism of academic research in general.
      When I tried to share SDB with a woman in my small group, she read the free preview online and was very wary. The scientific findings didn’t matter. “What’s their view of the gospel?” She countered (& I think by implication whom do y’all follow/whose tribe are you in?) This was all she seemed interested in knowing.
      Yes, I think strong distrust (& complete lack of understanding) of scholarly methods and research is a big reason for the pushback (although, as others have pointed out, not the only reason).

      • Lisa Johns

        This is so true! And I have seen where people will dismiss actual research if it does not agree with what they *think* “thuh Bible says.” It’s sadly ridiculous.

    11. Laura

      “They’re upset that we’re pointing out where harm has been done.”

      Exactly, and just because they (mostly men and the women who blindly support complementarianism) have not been harmed by those teachings does not mean they are not harmful. I have been harmed by complementarianism teachings and as a new Christian nearly 30 years ago, I came away from a service thinking that God favored men more than women because the pastor claimed the Bible said that husbands should be in charge of the entire household. The only time women should be in charge is if they are single mothers or single and alone. So sexist and turned me off from organized religion for several years. In the last few years, American politics is what has turned me off from organized religion, but I am choosing to follow Jesus, not a specific church’s doctrine.

      • Bernadette

        Or do some people not realize when they are being harmed by Complementarian teachings?

        Like how someone might suffer migraines because of environmental toxins, without even realizing the toxins are there?

    12. ALM

      “ When harm is being done, it must be stopped, even if doing so is messy and doesn’t seem “nice.”’

      You know what? Jesus wasn’t nice. He was righteous. He was compassionate. But He wasn’t nice. He called out the arrogant leaders of his people very publicly and told them exactly how harmful their teachings were. He blasted them for their abuse of God’s children. He called them rude names (spawn of snakes, sons of Satan, fancy filthy tombs). He told those who misled children to tie a millstone around their necks and take a long walk off a short fishing boat. He not only overturned the tables of those profiting off the vulnerable, he made a whip and used it on their backs to drive them from the temple! Today we would call that assault. But apparently it still wasn’t a sin. He was absolutely harsh and very public in his call outs. Because arrogance and a willful refusal to acknowledge the harm done to the children of God by false teachers is a foul stench in his nostrils.

    13. exwifeofasexaddict

      “When people say they don’t like our research, what are they upset about?

      Do they want to keep the obligation sex message? Do they see women as sin management tools for men, “methadone” for their porn habits? Do they think the orgasm gap & vaginismus rates aren’t a big deal?”

      I think quite a lot of people do believe the obligation sex and sin management tools messages. My ex married me as a sin management tool. Doug Wilson has overtly said that. The books say that. And people really do believe the books are “biblical”. It’s really sad that people can’t separate these messages from the Bible.

      Another important thing is that studies and data really can be manipulated to make them say things they don’t say, and people don’t know where to go for trustworthy information. Casting doubt on the accuracy of your research is an easy way to discredit you and make people stop listening to you. But the people who put up this accusation need to be challenged to offer proof that this is happening here. Because they’re calling you a liar, and that’s a pretty serious charge.

    14. Michelle

      This issue of the haters reminds me of the rabbi Gamaliel’s speech in Acts 5 when he addresses the Sanhedrin about John and Peter being on trial. And he says, “In the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God”. Your ministry is flourishing. Women are finding their voices, restoring their relationship with Jesus (who treated all equally and called us to do the same) and are also finding healing for themselves and their marriages in the process. The haters will always find something to hate, but if God is behind it it can’t be stopped. So thankful for all that you guys do.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes! That’s a great analogy.

    15. Hannah

      I love your TGSR website which lays out your methods so clearly. Is there a similar one for SDB? Or would you be able to post the equivalent here? Appreciate a lot of people criticising you probably don’t really care about the results but for me it’s been great to be able to point people I know to your methods.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I love the story of Semmelweis! And how the other doctors didn’t care about women’s mortality, because their reputations were more important. And besides, God said that women would have a hard time in childbirth.

        (And, yes, I will definitely not follow in Semmelweis’ footsteps at the end!)

    16. Willow

      I believe the complaints about methodology are a red herring. The real issue is, they don’t want women challenging their authority in this space. [I don’t believe it’s any version of Christianity. I call their religion the Great White Penis Worship.]

      I have spent most of my career working in heavily male-dominated industries (90-95%+ male). At one point, I led a business unit that was all male, except me. I kept getting feedback from a few people that I was “not communicating well enough.” Being early in my career, I took this to heart and bent over backwards trying to ensure I used all available means and methods to communicate with my team. I posted information. I emailed information. I texted information. We had morning alignment meetings with leaders and afternoon all-hands meetings. I carefully explained my reasoning when I made decisions. I constantly kept my boss in the loop and invited him to visit my team to see us at work. Etc. And I STILL kept hearing, “I never know what she’s thinking.” “She’s so unpredictable.” “She’s such a poor communicator.” “We’re always in the dark.” This ended up in my performance reviews as a critique.

      Years later, I finally realized that there was NOTHING I COULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY to fix this issue. The problem wasn’t how I was communicating. The problem was that many of these people had never had a female leader before, and a handful were ardently opposed to having one. My very existence as their boss was disruptive and interrupted their mental model of what to expect. Therefore, anything I said or did was going to be “unpredictable” or “in the dark.” Because they were so thrown off every time by seeing a woman as their boss that their brains shut down and didn’t even hear what I said.

      Sheila, please don’t twist yourself in knots when these folks attack your “methodology” or “beliefs”, etc. I’m glad you’re forthright about your careful methodology, but you could not do anything different to change their responses except perhaps to be a man. Your very existence in this space is disruptive to their mental models. [Thank you for being in this space!!]

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Thank you, Willow! That’s really helpful.

    17. Randall

      For findings 3-6, how did you distinguish between correlation and causation?

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        We asked specifically about beliefs prior to marriage as well so that we could see what preceded what, which is a good indication.

        But what we do know is that these beliefs are associated with much worse marriages and much worse sex.

        • Randall

          Maybe I’m just misunderstanding your reply but that doesn’t seem to answer my question.

          How do you know that belief A caused outcome B and that belief A and outcome B aren’t just correlated vs one causing the other. It’s a very hard thing to distinguish so I’m curious how you can be so confident this is clear causation vs just correlation.

          Especially since it seems there was no control group to compare against.

          What am I missing?


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