Lite version - for full, un-cut, ad-free access, visit http://patreon.com/peaceofpersistence. Seriously, this interview is so full - her thoughts on writing and cooking and wellbeing alone are worth the subscription. Anyway...
Rachel Leventhal-Weiner, PhD, is the Data Engagement Specialist at the Connecticut Data Collaborative, a public-private partnership advancing the use of open data to drive program and policy decisions. An educator, advocate and researcher, Rachel runs the CT Data Academy, a public education initiative designed to increase data literacy and expand data capacity in nonprofit organizations, state agencies and community groups. Before joining the Data Collaborative, she worked for nearly a decade in higher education as an administrator, professor, and advisor. Rachel earned her PhD from the Department of Sociology at the University of Connecticut and her Master’s degree in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. She writes about faculty and family life for the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Vitae, blogs at www.roguecheerios.com, and co-hosts a weekly podcast on gender and gender stereotypes, Boy vs. Girl. She is the proud (if not overjoyed) mother of two exuberant little girls who keep her on my toes. Rachel loves to cook most things from scratch, wishes she had more time to crochet, and is never going to give up on her dream of running a (half) marathon. She loves a good hike, a great cocktail, and time with her incredible husband (of over a decade), David.
Ok. You're clearly a big fan of data. What kind of data do you deal with, and is it really so hard to convince people that we should use facts to inform policy?
-Rachel works to encourage everyone she works with to consider the people behind the data and uses that in the non-profit industry which is increasingly having to use data in their work. "Data are people, and the more we use data to inform our work, the better impact we have on people's lives."
I love your podcast, Boy vs Girl. You and your co-host Matt have a great rapport, and I love your honest look at gender issues and stereotypes. What message or messages are you hoping to convey on your show?
-Consciousness raising. She says they don't have any specific message, but her goal is to push back against gender stereotypes and figure out how and why we harbor them and why they persist. She credits Matt to a lot of the consciousness raising. She loves receiving feedback from listeners that something they discussed on the show made them think or made them uncomfortable with the status quo. Disruption and a lack of contentment about the inequality between men and women in our society is necessary. She wants to encourage people to question the norms in society, the way we act, why we don't push back against unfair treatment, etc.
It also sounds like you appreciate activity as a source of well-being, between your love of hiking and your desire to run a half-marathon... How do you make time, in your busy routine while raising a family?
-It took her a really long time to make time for it. She really needed a way to de-stress while working in a toxic environment. As a researcher, she researched all of the things she could do, made a list and looked to see which would fit in her schedule. The one that made the most sense was a 5:30am bootcamp class. As a result, she's more disciplined with how she uses her time, she enjoys the company of the dozen people she sees twice a week, and she's finding physical strength in ways she never had. She's a better person because of it, with more energy, and she sleeps better.
Personally, I struggle sometimes with the stress of maintaining and furthering my career while producing this show and trying to make a living in the city... You keep a lot of plates spinning, so I'm wondering if you have any time management tips for me and the rest of our audience?
-Informally, Rachel likes to keep about 2 weeks in advance of her schedule in her head at any given time. It helps her to know what to change or push back, and it keeps her from getting too overwhelmed by not looking too far in advance. Saying no is also another way to manage time. She also recommends being intentional about side hustles and whether they're paid or at least going to produce dividends in some way down the road, and being honest about your physical needs, especially sleep and rest. On a long-term goal setting basis, she plans out, even for a year, how she wants to prioritize her time. Although she's kind to herself when things sometimes don't get done, it really helps to make time for important things, like spending time alone with her husband.
What does success look like to you, at this point in your life?
-For the first time, they have flexibility and autonomy in their schedules and are all able to come home at the same time each night to be with their family. They have their health and peace, and Rachel sees success so differently from the status-based and tenure-track life she once wanted to lead.
If there were one thing you'd like the world to see differently (as if through your eyes), what would it be?
-Racism. To even try to see something from someone else's perspective can inform so many future interactions.
How do we start?
-"Engaging honestly with our history." If we can play violent video games, we can discuss the violent nature of slavery. She recommends reading narrative histories and really facing uncomfortable truths about the underlying causes of so many biases and hatred.
Do you have any other advice for us?
-Be kind to yourself. A lot of our goals require transformation, and it's important to be patient and see all of the good things happening along the way.