CIHR Chair in Gender, Work and Health

In February 2013 Partnership Co-Lead Mieke Koehoorn was named a CIHR Research Chair in Gender, Work and Health. Her Chair supports Partnership projects investigating gender and sex differences in work injury and illness rates in BC, and gender and sex differences in work disability outcomes across compensation systems in Canada and internationally.

PhD and Masters research opportunities are available under Mieke’s supervision in this area. Interested students should contact Mieke with a CV and statement of interest. For example, PhD students Andrea Jones and Cheryl Peters are currently investigating the role of gender, sex, and mental health on disability duration, and occupational exposure to ultra violet light among male workers, respectively.

Gender/sex differences in workers’ compensation and work disability is an important and growing issue in Canada (and other jurisdictions) for many reasons, including:

  • The entry of women into a wider variety of high risk occupations and industries;
  • The steady increase in the rate of workforce participation for women aged 55 and older compared to men;
  • Emerging evidence that women have higher rates of injury/illness compared to men in the same jobs;
  • An aging workforce in Canada, coupled with a shift in retirement age and eligibility criteria for pensions;
  • Emerging evidence that older workers have more severe or disabling injuries/illnesses, that work-related injury/illness risk for women do not decline with age compared to men, and that women and men have different work disability experiences.

Program of research

We are conducting several population-based studies using administrative health databases (i.e. workers’ compensation claims) to investigate gender/sex differences in work injury and illness rates, and work disability or return-to-work outcomes, within the same occupation/industry groups by type of injury illness, over time, and by age groups. We also include comparisons across jurisdictions to identify system- or policy-level characteristics that may influence gender/sex differences.

This research program builds on prior Partnership work examining gender/sex differences in areas including shift work, sleep problems, and serious injuries.

What do we mean by gender/sex?

As described in the CIHR Gender, Sex and Health Research Guide, there are no definitive, universally accepted definitions of ‘gender’ or ‘sex’, but gender is usually associated with social constructs (roles, relationships, behaviours) for women and men; and sex is typically understood to refer to physical constructs (biology, physiology) for females and males. As stated by Nancy Kreiger (2003), individuals live both, simultaneously (a ‘gendered’ person and a ‘sexed’ organism), and both matter for health outcomes as part of an ‘ecosocial epidemiological perspective’.

Links

Related Partnership publications

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