This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2021 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.
This entry is by Melina Lopez, NUR ’22
My summer as a Research Assistant in the Flores Family Health Studies Lab could not have been more fruitful. Considering this was my first research gig despite being at Penn for four years, I was nervous stepping into the role when so many of my classmates have been doing research for years, but I am grateful that this was not the case.
Dr. Flores welcomed me into his lab with open arms and was patient as I got accustomed to my role. The job was entirely virtual and consisted of me coding interviews with lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) cisgender daughters who spoke on their experiences of talking about sex with their parents. Each interview was rich and descriptive, and I was able to ask any content analysis questions I had about the interviews during my weekly meetings with Dr. Flores. These meetings were our way of performing quality checks on the work since the raw data I am producing will be used to inform future health initiatives intended to reduce negative health outcomes for LBQ female adolescents.
Speaking of negative health outcomes, part of my experience also involved me conducting a literature review about what information already exists in regards to the health issues that LBQ female adolescents face. I was not surprised when I found little to no information on this population. Most literature discusses health outcomes for older lesbian women or young gay, bisexual, and queer (GBQ) male adolescents, but not for LBQ female adolescents. In fact, research highlighted how little information exists in this field and implied the need for future research to focus on these problems.
In the same vein, I also conducted another literature review that looked at parent-child sex communication between parents and LBQ daughters, which yielded even fewer results. The literature I found called for the need to investigate the nature of sex conversations that occur between a daughter and her parents, (i.e., do they even happen? what topics were discussed? are they inclusive?, etc.) which is what the work I accomplished this summer does.
As a senior in the School of Nursing minoring in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, this work aligns very closely with the content I am learning in school, while also informing the type of work that I want to do in the future. Gender-affirming care is a field that is rapidly gaining popularity yet is still largely overlooked and underfunded. Doing work like this gives me hope that we are moving in the right direction towards sexual and gender-related health justice, and I am beyond appreciative to finally be a part of it.