How do you stay resilient? From learning to cope with the stress of being an immigrant and mom to dealing with the exclusivity of academia, Anne-Sophie Bohrer has been learning how to build resilience since the beginning of her career. She gives us a glimpse into what that journey looked like from her time at the bench to finding her way to another calling, science support. She shares how she was able to find her power, what she’s learned engaging in DEI work and her work helping pave others' paths in STEM as the Training Coordinator at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.
Michelle Chung | Host
Michelle first joined the Wisconsin Energy Institute in 2020 as a student intern. She has since graduated and joined the communications team full time and continues to find creative ways to tell the stories behind the people and research here at WEI and GLBRC.
Mary (Meg) Riker | Host
Science Writer Intern
Meg is an undergraduate civil and environmental engineering student who seeks to learn about the career experiences of a range of women in STEM.
Edited by: Michelle Chung
Produced by: Michelle Chung, Mary Riker, and Meg Riker
Music written and performed by: Mark E. Griffin
Meg Riker: Welcome to season two of Propelling Women in Power. I’m Meg Riker, one of your co-hosts and a UW–Madison senior undergraduate student studying civil and environmental engineering. I loved hearing from so many women this season on topics of institutional power, diversity, equity and inclusion and balancing work and life.
Michelle Chung: Hi, I'm Michelle Chung your other co-host and communications specialist and former intern at the Wisconsin Energy Institute and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. I'm excited for people listening in to hear about the awesome, sometimes winding, sometimes difficult paths of the women on this season. We'll hear wisdom about how to engage faculty in DEI initiatives and new perspectives on resilience and mentorship.
Hey Meg, what does resilience mean to you?
Meg Riker: Strength. Fight. To me, resilience means to never give up. But this is such a literal interpretation of the word. What does resilience mean to you, Michelle?
Michelle Chung: I thought of resilience a lot like you do. It's the willpower to keep going and persevere. And for today's guest Anne-Sophie Bohrer, her resilience was something that she cultivated as she navigated her career path. From research in plant science to now science support and administration as the training coordinator for the GLBRC.
Meg Riker: The more I listened to Anne-Sophie speak during this interview, the more my definition of resilience changed. To her, it's about adjustability and patience. And this is such a peaceful definition of resilience to me.
Michelle Chung: And this resilience is something that she hopes to build and other trainees in the jersey. Anne-Sophie shares what she's learned from her winding journey and her thoughts on the value of investing in diversity, equity and inclusion. Let's dive in.
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: So my name is Anne-Sophie Bohrer, my pronouns are she, her, hers and I now work at the GLBRC as the training coordinator. So basically my job is a two part type of responsibility is one is to help the center with their recruitment effort, mostly trying to increase diversity and, you know, working a lot on all these DIY components.
The other aspect of my job is to focus on everything related to professional development for our trainees. So from career exploration to skill development, anything that our trainees might need to transition into the career of their choosing.
Michelle Chung: What excites you most about that work?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: It's been a long time coming, so I guess that's really what's exciting right now. I would say what's exciting is really to realize that with this huge DEI component in my work, it's really to realize how important it is beyond the numbers and beyond the etiquette, I would say. And it's really the understanding that the more effort we put into diversity equity and inclusion, the more likely we are to succeed as a group. Because more diversity means more innovation. There is more diversity in backgrounds, which means we have a better vision of the global city of what we can do. Having people from different countries means they have a different understanding of bioenergy related issues from their own experience, and I think that's really exciting. It's also exciting to me that GLBRC has made this effort creating this position to adapt to the needs of the trainees, Everything related to professional development, I feel like has been up and coming for the past five ten years in the U.S., I would say, and I feel like they're working with what people need, which is a really good testimony to how they want everyone within GLBRC to succeed where ever, you know, their career leads them. So that's exciting for me.
Michelle Chung: Before becoming the training coordinator, you were a postdoc with the GLBRC doing research for many years. How did you find your way to doing this professional development DEI work?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: Yeah. So it's something that I didn't mention before. So like you said, I graduated with my Ph.D. in plant biochemistry in France and came in 2013 to the US and started a postdoc at Michigan State University. It was supposed to be for a few years. And then, you know, going back to France, becoming a faculty, and I had my plan, and then after probably two years at MSU, I realized that I had the opportunity to stay longer and staying longer meant probably staying forever. And so this is where having this in mind I really had to think about what I wanted to do. And it was hard. I was aware that first not being American, it would be harder and it would take longer for me to get wherever I wanted to go.
What was hard actually, was that I realized first that I did not want to be a faculty if I was staying in the U.S. And so from there, this was the hard work, you know, the heavy lifting of figuring out what I wanted to do. And for a very long time, I really meant to stay in science. I really meant to stay in research. Being at the bench is what I really liked, but I felt that a lot of things happened at the same time. And so I was still doing my research and I joined the Postdoc Association at MSU, which started to make me aware of a lot of other careers that are open to PhDs. It's not something that we discuss a lot in France. And so it was really all new to me and then from there I had an opportunity to join an NIH funded program called Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training. And so the idea of this program is that for two years you meet with people who have PhDs but did not follow the faculty route in academia and the great advantage of this program was that we could actually do internships and basically, you know, try careers we could be interested in. And so when I joined this program very soon, I realized that a career I could be interested in was the one of the program coordinator of BEST because she was, you know, networking with a lot of scientists. She was helping trainees figure out what they wanted to do. And she was also organizing a bunch of events and all these things that I was like, I like that.
And when I realized that this is the type of jobs I wanted to do, then I really had to mourn my Ph.D. because I realized that having a Ph.D. in plant biochemistry was not what I was going to be using actually in my job. And it's actually really hard to be like, Oh no, did I do all of this for nothing? But then, no, it's not for nothing, because I would not have been in the U.S. and I would not have discovered this career and I would not have had all the opportunities that I've had at MSU and with in GLBRC when I started working as a postdoc for GLBRC in 2017 for the new cycle.
And I think these opportunities for me are a big reflection of what the U.S. is, which means if you want to do something, try it out and if you like it, you can probably succeed in doing this if you want to. So I was really happy to be able to shift from a scientist at the bench to more of a academic administrator. I would say that's the category I'm in–to really help. Now, Ph.D. students and even postdoc realized that there is time to figure out what they want to do. The sooner the better. But it doesn't have to be all set in stone as soon as you graduate. Right. And I'm the prime example of that. I did nine years of postdocs and it was really not the plan to start with, but eventually I found what I wanted to do and I found a job and now I'm doing what I dreamt of doing for six years. So I guess, you know, anyone can do it.
Michelle Chung: So you realize the faculty path wasn't for you. How did you come to that realization?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: So the way a faculty is in the U.S. is very different than what it is in France. In France, you can be a faculty hired through your university or through a national research entity. If you are hired through of a university, which is the route I wanted to go into, you're basically paid mostly to teach. So in France, usually faculty teach about 200, 200 hours a year.
I was very surprised when my PI at MSU once told me, “Oh, I'm going to be very busy because I have a class to teach this semester” because for me it was really this disconnect of being like, but it's only a few hours a week. And so really I was very into teaching. I really love that. I love the research, which obviously faculty do a lot of also in France. But the other difference is that when you are a faculty in a lab in France, it's not just you, you're not the only faculty. It's usually a group of multiple faculties. So smaller labs might have a couple bigger labs, might have five, six, ten faculty, and then every faculty is going to work on their own project. And every project obviously is integrated in this overall mission of the lab.
And so coming to the U.S. and realizing that faculty is a very isolated thing to be there is added to that. This pressure of funding. I was not aware of that pressure back in France because once again, I think the system is very different than what it is here. But all of this, the idea for me that I would be the one that everyone would be relying on in the lab to basically work and have a salary and have a job, I was not something that I was into. I was like, Nope, it's it's not the type of pressure that I want to have when doing my job. And to be very honest, being a PI in the U.S. is a lot of writing, a lot of grant writing, paper writing, and it's not my favorite. So it was fairly easy to be like, not what I'm going to do, so I'd rather be at the bench.
It's funny because I just came back from a conference and it was a biomedical research conference for minoritized scientists, and I was talking with someone who said that 7% of grad students are going to become faculty. And so it's not their route.
Michelle Chung: It's not as popular, right?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: Yeah. And it's funny because up until a few years ago, people were organizing workshops and seminars to explore alternative careers to academia. And then you're like, But is it alternative? You know, is it really the odd thing to not be in academia anymore? And so, yeah, I was not aware of these numbers and all of a sudden you're like, okay, that's and it's not because there's a lack of openings.
I think it's really because people are not interested in this route and. You have to have a Ph.D. if you want to be a faculty, Right? But then a lot of people do this without really actually sitting down with themselves and be like, What is it that I really want? And those are the questions that I had to ask myself.
And it was really hard to find the right question to answer. And then once I had it, to actually be honest with myself of being like, What do I need? What do I want? What do I value? At the end of the day, what what did I accomplish that I can say that I'm proud of? Right? Being a faculty is not something that at the end of the day, people want to do, and that's fine. And I feel like more power to the ones who actually do it. And because regardless, it's a success that they actually do it.
Michelle Chung: They went through it, right?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: Yeah. And they do it because, then it's because we have faculty that we have great PhD students and great PhDs and great people. Doing postdocs is because they had someone to host them and guide them, but also let them be independent enough to figure out what they wanted to do. Which I think is more power to them.
Michelle Chung: You're training to be a mentor.
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: Again, also not forcing what you've done that worked for you on to people because then you... In my opinion it's really then that it becomes harder to be a good scientist regardless of the stage you're in. So if we were forcing you to be something that you're not convinced you can do or you want to do, then you kind of lose this will to work and to put all you have in it right?
Because all you can think of is what's coming. And you know what's coming is not what you want to do. So it's really hard then I think, to put the effort now for something that is not something that you chose to do, if it makes sense.
Michelle Chung: Yeah. I feel like if if that is forced upon you, they're like the great part about being a scientist is that creative freedom that you get. But yeah, someone's forcing like what they think of a project onto you, then they're taking that away from you. And then it's like, Are you really doing your job?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: Yeah, yeah.
Michelle Chung: There is a part in there where you said you had to sit down with yourself and really just reckon with like, what are my values and how does that align with what I'm going to do next. You mentioned to us you have this podcast called Propelling Women in Power with your career shift. You found that that decision was a really integral part in you finding your power. What did you mean by that?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: I mean that when I looked back on my education, it was go, go, go, go, go for 26 years in the sense that especially after high school where, you know, you're 16 and you're asked, what is it that you want to do for the rest of your life? And truly, I don't know, but you still have to choose, you know, where are you going to go? What major are you going to choose? And once again, the way the system is in France is that you choose a major. My major was biology, so I decided to go to the university to learn about biology. But unlike the U.S., where if after a year you realize that it's maybe not the major you want to go into, you can transfer and do something else. In France, you're in it. And if you want to change, you can. But you start over. You start back to your one in something different. And so I did five years of college in France. It's three years for The Bachelor and then two years of Masters. And I had a plan after my bachelor to go to a school.I didn't get in so then I had to shift quickly, got into my masters.
I was very into plant biology since my first year, so it was an easy choice for me to specialize in plant biology. And then in my first year of Masters, I had an internship that went really well. I was really excited about it and at the end of it my mentors were like, Yeah, you sure you're really good at this? You should do a Ph.D.? And I was like, Okay, because I didn't know what to do. And so again, and so then my second year of Masters, I specialize in research and I did a six months internship. I applied for a Ph.D. position and I got it. Okay. And then I did my three years of Ph.D. and I graduated and I applied to one postdoc and I got it. And I moved to the U.S.. Okay. Everything went well to the point where I never had this thing of like, having the time to sit down and weigh my options. And so when eventually I realized being here, I did not want to be a faculty, it's the first time in a long time that I had to sit down and figure out what I was going to do.
And this is really hard because when your brain doesn't stop, when you're invested in one thing for so many years and I was successful at it. So all of a sudden you're like, Is it worth stopping that or is it worth actually thinking about what I want? But then all of a sudden it's like, Well, what do I want? What do I need? And this is where I started, you know, taking like professional development workshops and I learned about the values and I was like, What are my values? What is it that I want from my job? And even though my values apply to being a faculty, I think the first value I have is making an impact.
And obviously when you do research and you publish your research, you have an impact on the entire world. But to me, I was at the point where I was choosing to have maybe an lesser impact on less people, but that were more relevant to me. I'd rather help a couple PhD student or postdocs realize the path they want to go into and help them develop skills they don't necessarily have than publish a paper that 500 people are going to read and ultimately is going to help in their research. So it was not even about the numbers for me, it was more about how long is it going to impact them versus how many people is it going to impact? It's also this idea that your values at work are your values in life, right?
You're not going to change who you are when you come to work, right? So if one of your top values is respect, you're gonna want to respect people outside of work, but also at work. And you are going to want to be respected outside of work and at work. You're not going to change what you value because all of a sudden you're in a different environment.
Reflecting on all of this, all of a sudden it was not What do I value at work, but what do I value? Period?
But those are also the questions that once again, when it's a very linear path.
Michelle Chung: You don't ask...
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: You don't ask yourself this ever.
Michelle Chung: You went through all this thinking to end up to the spot where you are now. You found this position where you can support the scientists. Do you ever still question like, is this the right job for you?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: I completely changed careers and it was this huge challenge and now I'm in it and I'm like, I did it.
Michelle Chung: What's next?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: Yeah, right. And it's not a good place to be in my brain because then all of a sudden it's like, what? Am I satisfied? Can I, can I do more? Can I have more? So I don't know. For now, I'm just so happy to be doing it that, you know, for the foreseeable future. It is definitely what I'm going to be doing and it might actually evolve.
Right now my focus is mostly on trainees, right? Undergrads, students, postdocs. But I think I would be very interested in seeing my role evolve to include a lot more work with faculty. There's a lot of pressure on them, right? And I talked about this like the writing, the grants, the the money, the hiring people, all of this making sure your lab works, making sure everyone gets along.
And I feel like that's just the research part. And then they have to teach and then they have to mentor and then they have to do some service and then they have to do this and that. And it's always more and more and more without necessarily giving them the tools they need to actually do more. I would say staying in this career, I see myself in this evolution of working maybe more into faculty development and faculty support. Who knows, right?
Michelle Chung: So a lot of your job is support. This podcast is a lot about advice we can give to young women in STEM. So along your journey, what can you say now would be the support you would give for young women in STEM going into these academic roles?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: Just being here, answering questions. I think one thing that I learned growing older is looking back on me when I was in school, always afraid to ask a question because obviously I'm the only one who does not understand. So I'm the one who's dumb. And if I ask the question, people are going to realize that I'm dumb.
And then all of a sudden you're like, Oh gee, everyone had the question, just no one asks. And so the way I see my support is really just being here to answer questions, if they have any. But also just listen. And I think the support comes from listening because I think there is a lot of pressure for everyone but women and minoritized scientists especially.
And in my opinion, what they lack is spaces, safe spaces where they can just talk about what's not going good, also talk about what's great, but just listening and if they want me to help them more, then really helping them figure out what they can do, where they can go, is there a resource they can, you know, benefit from to help them, to support them and can be an anything I think that's how I want to do it.
If there is no space for people to be able to just talk about what is really holding them back, because that's what stress and doubt is about, because you go at it, you do it because you have to. But are you doing it at full capacity? Probably not. So if they can find in me someone who will listen, not judge and just help them, just even get it off your chest, feel lighter, your brain is a bit cluttered and it's not even having the support. It's knowing you can actually go. The safe space. The safe space. Right? And there are so many resources on our campuses that are free, confidential. You just go, you talk to someone and no one has to know about and you talk about whatever you want. So employee assistance programs are underrated. Yeah, they exist and everyone should benefit from them.
Michelle Chung: So what does that look like for you? Now? Those support networks or like coping strategies?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: For me I think I find a lot of comfort in knowing resources are there for me if I want to now, right now what I'm struggling with is that I just moved to Madison and so I need to kind of start over again. I know people because through job, see, obviously I already knew a lot of people here, but it's just me, my husband and my kid right now, right. And so we have zero family, but we also have very little social life outside of work. And so I think that's the challenge for me right now. And so what I try to do is really just take it one day at a time and just be like, you cannot be the way you were. After nine years in East Lansing.
I'm only after six months in Madison. So I think just knowing that I can ask for help, the harder is actually to ask for help, obviously. But yeah, no, I think it's just a matter of knowing it's going to get resolved, knowing it's going to be okay. It might take a while, but it's going to be okay. Anyway, that's really something that I try to do. A lot of intentional breathing too. When I feel very overwhelmed, I just deep breath. It kind of calms down the nervous system.
Michelle Chung: Taking that slow moment, taking that breath. You've mentioned in the past the fast paced hustle culture that is academia, that is the workplace. How do you think that has put women specifically at a disadvantage?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: I am now a mom. My son is 19 months old, and I was aware that women in general have a mental load that is way bigger than what men have. But I feel like as women we wake up and it's like work. What do I have to do? Also, there's a laundry. I need to empty the dishwasher. What do we eat tonight? Oh, yeah, I need to go buy this and now I have this added thing of being a mom, which is not just about me anymore. It's also about a tiny human that I have to keep alive every day. And I think that's something that can be very heavy on a woman because it's invisible. It's in our head. It's just a list we keep making, hoping to scratch everything off the list. And I'm not saying that men don't have that as well, but I think it's way more likely that a woman will have all this emotional and mental load. And I think in science, when there is so many and so much expectation to publish and to get money and to do all the things to be successful as a faculty, it can be extremely difficult as a woman because your work is every day.
But I think it's very important to recognize that women might have responsibilities that are inherently put on them because they are women.
Michelle Chung: Yeah, this kind of reminds me of something that came up in one of the past episodes. Like there's this myth of having it all and that being an extra expectation where like, you have that that thing in your head where you're like, I have to be able to do all these things and still excel at work. So that's when like work goes into blending into home. Yeah, there's like no boundary there.
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: There is very little boundary. Now it's also the boundaries you put yourself, right? That's also something that I'm learning which is really hard. It's like, actually, No. Mm hmm. Oh, I said it. You know what I mean? Like, Yeah. Because the thing is that there's always opportunities. The problem is, if you say yes to everything, you will have less time to do it all. So it comes to a point. And it was true, actually, for me, transitioning into this new career, I was eager to learn. I was eager to have experience. I was eager to prove that I could do it. So it was. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes to everything. And then after a couple of like, yeah, three or four years like this, it was like once again, sit down with myself.
What is it going to bring to me? Is there going to be a new experience that will be valuable for me in the long run? Am I going to learn something new? And if all these questions that I was asking myself, any of them was a no. Yeah. Then no, I'm sorry, I can do it. I don't have the time right now.
Michelle Chung: Yeah.
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: And it's not even the time. I don't have the capacity to do it. So no.
Michelle Chung: It's good having those questions to set the boundaries you need. Do you see discrimination against women in academia?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: I don't think I've seen it in the sense that I'm not in a situation where I could have seen someone not getting the job because they were a woman. Right. But I've heard stories. One of them that I think was just amazing to me is a woman who went to a conference and was asked, who's taking care of your kids, their dad, you know, or hearing, oh, dad is going to be babysitting because I'm going to a conference.
And I'm like, actually, it's his job, right? And you would never say that a man going to a conference, no one is going to ask him, Oh, who is taking care of your kids? And I think that's the issue that I have of this idea that because you're a woman, you have to be everything. But then when you are in your work, in your role as whatever it is, and you are doing something for your job, people are going to basically tell you, Oh, but you're not doing all the other things for your family.
But then if I do the things for my family, I very likely will be told you're selecting a little bit. We are really good at juggling it all, and if we ever don't perform as good as usual, then people will notice and then people will tell you they noticed. There's this strength women have that is very underrated is that we know how to juggle a lot.
Like I said, all the mental load right that it's there constantly let people have the time to breathe a little, maybe allow people to make mistake and not judge them because they make mistakes. I think once again, it all comes down to the support supporting each other, knowing that it's not a competition. Even though society feels like everything is a competition now, but it's not a competition.
And finding the ones you can vent to, finding the ones who will listen, not judge, finding the community you need so that the day you are finally willing to say, I need help, you know they're going to help you. Mm hmm. It's hard to ask for help. Maybe women need extra support, but it's not because we're not as good as just that. It's a little more to juggle overall.
Michelle Chung: What are those steps to making that support easier to access?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: First, make them known. Also, people taking ownership that if you want help, there are people like me willing to help. But first you need to ask for it. You need to make time for it. But then you also need to realize that you can look for it And you might not be in a headspace where you can look for it by yourself.
You really don't know what to look for. You don't know where to start. So once again, lean on the people whose job it is to help you with all these things. Right? The way we play it is often seen that if I ask for help, I'm weak. Or if I ask for help, it means I don't know it myself.
And I don't think it's a good thing. It's like, No, you don't know what you don't know.
Michelle Chung: So yeah, I feel like that's one of the biggest soft that is so important. But like, no one teaches you the importance of asking for help professionally or like, especially in your personal life, to not normalize it in society, that that's like what you should do.
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: I was this person for a very long time. It's like, if I ask for help, then people are going to take time out of their day to help me, and I don't want that. And I feel so bad about I'll figure it out.
Michelle Chung: Yeah, just feeling like a burden.
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: You feel like a burden, but then you figure out I was figuring out whatever it was, but it was taking me, what, a full day, a week, a month, a year. If I ask someone, in worst case, they say, No, sorry, I cannot help you. Okay, At least I asked. But what happens to is that that person can say Sorry, I cannot help you right now, but I know someone again. Or you should visit this website and find the information. And so something that would take me a full day to figure out by myself. Maybe if I ask someone it will take me an hour and not only I gain all that time back, but all the time, the energy, the emotional load, because then you have to recover from all of this right?
Michelle Chung: I know the realizations almost worst.
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: Right? Then you're like, Oh, okay, yeah. So just ask for help.
Michelle Chung: I'm going to let one of our producers, Arushi Gupta, ask a few questions.
Arushi Gupta: Okay, So I have a lot of questions. I'm an international student and I feel like when you are an international student, there is just a certain expectation that you have to try harder than your peers, and especially since you shared that you were a post-doc for nine years, there's definitely a certain work ethic that comes with being an immigrant or having immigrant parents or immigrant family. Did you feel that you had to work harder than your peers to get to where you are now?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: I would say yes. And more specifically, it's because being an international scholar, which was what was on my visa, me being here was because of a visa, right? So it means that if I don't perform good enough, it's not just that I lose funding is that I lose a visa and I have to leave the U.S., which is also why I was a postdoc for nine years. When you have a visa is to work at a specific university, in a specific lab, on a specific project. So if the project goes, if the lab goes, everything goes and then you go home. And I'm lucky I'm from France, so there's no danger of me going back to France. But for people who are from countries that it's not as safe or they don't have the opportunity to even do the job that they are trained for, that's a whole lot of pressure.
Arushi Gupta: That's a lot. Thank you for sharing. And also going a little bit back to when you were talking about a lot of your recruitment efforts, especially with your job and my experience, at least like diversity, equity inclusion work is often compartmental life in terms of like, here's a little brownie point because you're doing this work and not necessarily people centering it. So it can be very emotionally, intellectually taxing to actually engage in that work. And I know you mentioned a little bit about some coping strategies that you do just going out for a walk. You know, simple things. What are some things that you tap into specifically when it comes to doing this work?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: Accepting that I'm still learning. I think the overall issue with all the DEI work happening right now, and it's not just in academia, it's everywhere, is that it relies on people volunteering to doing it. It's not people that have extensive training in all these issues. Right? A lot of my work relies on the I and I did a lot of trainings, I did certifications. I'm not an expert, but it allowed me to become aware of things that I was literally going through life before without even asking myself like, Oh, I am a woman. Was I ever discriminated against? I am an international. Do I feel this? All these things? I was just let's go, let's go. I just do my thing. And so I think that's really the issue is that once again, it's adding something more to a faculty, a post-doc, a grad student, anyone, to become exceptional at everything related to DEI without necessarily having the tools, the time to learn about these things and the emotional capacity to have conversations that are so hard to have.
And it's not having the conversation that is hard is having the conversations with people that have very different views than yours very different opinions, and not punching them in the face because every opinion is valid. It's just then your own experience will tell you that person is wrong, but in their mind, you're the one who's wrong, right? So I think it's really this idea of like continuously knowing that I will have to learn a lot, but also making it like then being like, take a deep breath once again, valuable tool to understand where people come from when they have an opinion that is very different than yours.
I think there's so many opportunities and resources now that people can do better because they will learn a little more. Yeah.
Arushi Gupta: I think especially in times like these, it's really important to think like your own personal piece is important because we always talk about protect women, support women, and sometimes it's okay if that woman is you.
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: Yeah. And sometimes it's also okay to say I'm a woman, but I really don't want to support a woman right now because I need to protect my peace. That's what you said, right? You cannot do it all because you are a part of that group. It's not our responsibility to do it all. And once again, it comes back to the questioning of how can I help, but how is it going to support me as well?
It's very selfish, but it's also this idea that if you pour a lot of time and energy into something, it has to also come back to you in some way. So it's okay also to say no sometimes. And it's not because you're a woman and there is something whatever they need a woman that it has to be. You can be someone else.
You don't have to be the face of it every time, which is also the issue. So that's why it's important to do the work so that we stop asking always the same people. And so they have the opportunity to say no because there's someone else who can do it.
Michelle Chung: What a great interview. There are a couple of things that Anne-Sophie talked about that I wanted point out. She mentioned it many times in the interview, but her biggest piece of advice to herself and to other people is asking questions because it just makes life easier and leaning on other people. It really brought up an idea that I've heard of before, and it's this framework that is placed upon girls growing up. I've heard it called nice girl programing or good girl conditioning. And it's the fact that they were raised to seem perfect and not be a burden, to be polite and to not ask questions. And there's a differential there between how boys are raised and girls are raised. And when she mentioned, like her fear of asking questions and like how she had to learn that that was an okay to do, really brought up the fact that a lot of women going through their careers have to unlearn this conditioning and be okay with asking questions and have that not be seen as a weakness.
Meg Riker: I relate to that a lot because I always think when I ask questions like I'm bothering someone, you know, and I'm always like, afraid, you know, I know I shouldn't be too, like, ask questions when I start a new job or start a new system or something, you know? Yeah, I really to that right.
Michelle Chung: The perfectionist mindset is a big part of that.
Meg Riker: Yeah.This sort of relates to that. But I saw this thing online or like on Instagram or something, so I've never known a relaxed woman and I was like, I tried to think of like a relaxed woman in my life. I was thinking I was thinking I was like, Oh no, I can't really think of someone in my close personal life, or at least my extended personal life that I know that is truly relaxed and lives like a peaceful, serene, calm lifestyle.
But I can think of men. And and so the description of like when she became a mother, but also like the lists she makes every day and how they're ongoing and stuff like that really connected that idea to me. And it's like, maybe I need to move away from that good girl conditioned idea that questions idea that this idea to become more relaxed and more at ease with the world.
Michelle Chung: Yeah. When we typically see like the family structure, you know nuclear heterosexual family structure that is what we see is, you know, women being the household decision makers and there being like so much pressure on that.
Meg Riker: Yeah, because it's such an emotional burden to be a household decision maker. I mean, I've seen it before where women take the emotional in quotation marks, blame for all the decisions that are made in the household.
Michelle Chung: But then they don't get the credit for it.
Meg Riker: Right, like when they do something right, which is probably more of the time than they do something wrong, you know?
Michelle Chung: Exactly.
Meg: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Michelle Chung: She– she says that it's way more important to invest in DEI because like, yeah, different perspectives matter. They make innovation happen faster and better and that we should be doing it not just for the numbers.
Meg Riker: You need to take the overall perspective on whose life is improved by doing this. Whose stories are getting told.
Michelle Chung: Yeah, who are we listening to that has been excluded before?
Meg Riker: And that's our show for today.
Michelle Chung: Thank you to Dr. Anne-Sophie Bohrer, training coordinator at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. And thank you to all of you listening in today. Please subscribe, rate review and share this podcast with friends.
Meg Riker: You can find the Wisconsin Energy Institute at Energy Dot wisc dot Edu and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center at G L B R C dot O R G.
Michelle Chung: This episode was produced by Michelle Chung, Meg Riker and Arushi Gupta. We'll see you next time on Propelling Women in Power.
What is your superpower?
Anne-Sophie Bohrer: I think it's resilience. When I say I think my superpower is resilience is that I am more likely now to know the tools that I need to bounce back from whatever issue I'm facing. And I think that's the key to resilience. Once again, asking for help. You don't have to have all the answers, and accepting this allows me to be more free. It's not because it happens to me that I have to figure it out on my own