CIHR Research Chairs in Gender, Work and Health

CIHR has awarded nine new research chairs in Gender, Work and Health. The Gender, Work and Health Chair opportunity was launched by the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health in partnership with the CIHR Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis, the CIHR Institute of Population and Public Health, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail.

The specific objectives of the Gender, Work and Health Chair Program are:

  • To support leading researchers to develop their programs of research in gender, work and health.
  • To build capacity for research on work and health that accounts for gender and sex.
  • To foster the translation of that research into gender- and sex-sensitive policies and interventions that improve workers' health.

The overall value of this investment is $7.2 million, with each chair valued at $800,000 over five years. A unique feature of this Chair Program is a knowledge translation (KT) partnership with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), a not-for-profit federal department corporation mandated to promote the total well-being of working Canadians. CCOHS will be the official KT Partner for the Gender, Work and Health Chairs. Using web-based technology and their extensive network, CCOHS will expand the reach and impact of the Chairs’ work.

Read full list of awardees and their project abstracts

A research chair program in gender, work and health human resources

Photo: Dr. Ivy L. Bourgeault, University of Ottawa (Ottawa, ON)
(Photo credit: Ivy L. Bourgeault)

“There has been an overall neglect of the important influence that gender and quality of work plays on the tasks undertaken by various health care professionals. This neglect has important consequences for the sustainability of the health workforce, both in terms of recruiting new workers and retaining existing workers. My research program will address this knowledge gap by better understanding how gender influences quality of work, the types of task that are assigned to different health workers, and the movement of health professionals both within Canada and internationally.”

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Gender, work and traumatic brain injury: Addressing the gap in OHS research, policy, and practice

Photo: Dr. Angela Colantonio, University of Toronto (Toronto, ON)
Saunderson Family Chair in Acquired Brain Injury Research
Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-UHN

(Photo credit: University Health Network)

“Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. It is a very costly and devastating occupational injury, yet there is very little evidence that takes differences between men and women into account. My research program will improve what we know about brain injury at work for both men and women, including how to prevent injury and how to successfully return men and women to work post-injury using both individual and environmental interventions. Our program will also include investments in trainees and the development of educational resources and techniques to teach more people about traumatic brain injury at work.”

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Better understanding for better prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders: A concerted, sex/gender sensitive approach

CIHR-IRSST Research Chair in Gender, Work and Health

Photo: Dr. Julie Côté, McGill University (Montreal, QC)
(Photo credit: Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital)

“Work-related musculoskeletal disorders involving the neck and shoulder represent an important burden to Canadian society. My research program will lead to better sex- and gender-sensitive identification of the mechanisms of neck and shoulder musculoskeletal disorders. This knowledge will improve our understanding and ability to predict the effectiveness of intervention strategies, and in turn lead to the creation of more effective programs to prevent the development of neck and shoulder injuries in both men and women. This program will be accomplished in interdisciplinary collaboration with world-renown investigators from Canada and European countries and lead to the formation of a new generation of investigators exposed to international training opportunities.”

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Working well: Understanding how gender influences working conditions and health in long term care settings across Canada and internationally

Photo: Dr. Tamara Daly, York University (Toronto, ON)
(Photo credit: Norm Ullock)

“Women account for the majority of workers and residents within Canada’s long-term care system, though our legislation and public policies tend to ignore its gendered nature. My program of research, training and knowledge translation will contribute to our understandings of the links between the gendered organization of long-term care work and health outcomes for workers. Using surveys, interviews and observations, my research will contribute to the practice environment by offering tools to support worker's health and safety, and to the policy environment by contributing gender-sensitive indicators of quality working conditions in long-term care.”

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Gender and sex differences in workers' compensation outcomes

Photo: Dr. Mieke Koehoorn, University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)
(Photo credit: University of British Columbia)

“My program of research, training and integrated knowledge translation will focus on gender and sex differences in workers' compensation, work injury and illness rates, and work disability outcomes - including inter-organizational, inter-jurisdictional and inter-sector comparisons. Knowledge translation and exchange activities will be an integral component of this work via ongoing and emerging partnerships with workers' compensation and work disability organizations to implement best practices and reduce inequities based on evidence of gender and sex differences. Through collaborative research partnerships in British Columbia, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, this program will take a leadership role on accounting for gender and sex differences in work and health research internationally.”

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Effects of occupational radiation exposure on men and women in nuclear industry - from biomarkers to prevention strategies

Photo: Dr. Olga Kovalchuk, University of Lethbridge (Lethbridge, AB)
(Photo credit: University of Lethbridge)

“Occupational exposure to ionizing radiation (IR) is very common - the nuclear industry currently employs approximately 800 000 workers worldwide, including nearly 40 000 people in Canada. Research focused on the health effects of occupational exposure to radiation is therefore of crucial importance. Current radiation protection guidelines are based on males, yet women now constitute a major part of nuclear industry workforce. Are they equally protected? My research program aims to analyze the health effects of occupational radiation on males and females and develop novel sex-specific protection guidelines.”

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Gender in measurement and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal work disability

Photo: Dr. Joy MacDermid, McMaster University (Hamilton, ON)
(Photo credit: CIHR)

“Problems with bones, muscles, joints and other tissues that make up our musculoskeletal system can make work difficult and affect our overall health. These problems manifest themselves differently in women and men, and we are not sure if this is because of biological or social differences – or a combination of these factors. My research program will answer questions about how men and women differ in the development of and recovery from musculoskeletal health problems. In addition to training a new generation of researchers, I will develop new research teams and tools for measuring symptoms and work problems, determine how differences in work tasks and environments affect men and women, and develop strategies for care to be more sensitive to these differences.”

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Examining gender/sex differences in the relationships between work stress and disease, work injury risk, and the consequences of work injury

Photo: Dr. Peter Smith, Institute of Work and Health (Toronto, ON)
(Photo credit: Monash University)

“Women make up nearly half of labour force participants, yet much of what we know about the relationship between working conditions and health is based on measures developed on men and frameworks tested in male-dominated workplaces. My research program will lead to a more nuanced understanding of how sex and gender shape injury risk, the relationship between the work environment and chronic illnesses, and time off work after a work-related injury. By engaging with leading occupational health and safety stakeholders throughout the research process, this new research knowledge will in turn help shape the development of gender- and sex-sensitive policies and practices to improve the health of all working Canadians.”

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Gender, health and caregiver friendly workplaces

Photo: Dr. Allison M. Williams, McMaster University (Hamilton, ON)
(Photo credit: McMaster University)

“Canadian workplaces are faced with the challenge of managing a workforce which is, due to health care restructuring, increasingly expected to provide unpaid caregiving to family members. My research program will examine how sex and gender is manifested in the interface between unpaid caregiving work and paid labour, recognizing that the role strain across these two entities causes ill-health for caregiver employees. In addition to building capacity for research on work and health that accounts for sex and gender, I will work with a range of knowledge users and non-academic collaborators to simultaneously foster the translation of that research into sex and gender sensitive policies and interventions that improve workers' health.”

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Archived funding opportunity

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