Work can make you sick
Does our sex/gender affect our health?
By Meaghan Whelan
How does our gender shape the work we do? How does our gender influence the impact of our work on our health? These questions and others will be discussed at a Cafe Scientifique on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. at Bitters Pub in Feild Hall.
The café will feature two films that delve into interaction between gender and work and the broader implications for family and community health and well being.
The first film, El Contrato, follows Teodoro Bello Martinez, a father of four living in Central Mexico, and several of his countrymen as they make an annual migration to southern Ontario for eight months to pick tomatoes. Both the work and accommodation pose health risks and challenges. The workers negotiate these risks and discomforts with the economic benefits the employment provides.
The second film, A Second Wind, has a Memorial connection. It was produced by SafetyNet and features a daughter contemplating work in the same crab processing plant as her mother, while also trying to convince her mother to see a doctor about her cough.
The mother, while concerned about her respiratory problems from the plant, is more concerned about the economic hardship her family may face if her sickness is diagnosed.
The films will be followed by a lively café-style discussion with three expert panelists. Katherine Lippel is the Canada Research Chair in occupational health and safety law at the University of Ottawa; Barb Neis is a senior research associate with SafetyNet, a Memorial University initiative; and Nicole Power, associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Memorial University.
Program organizer Kristen Lowitt says the café will be of interest to anyone concerned about occupational health issues and health and environmental issues more broadly.
“You don't need any prior knowledge about science to participate. It’s not a lecture,” Ms. Lowitt explained. “It’s a place for group discussion and we welcome audience involvement.”
Ms. Lowitt and co-organizers Christine Knott and Kathleen Fitzpatrick are PhD students at Memorial. The three each received fellowships from the CIHR Gender Environment and Health Team to support their research into the integration of sex and gender in environmental and occupational health research.
“We learned a great deal through our association with the CIHR team and we were inspired to host this café on campus to raise awareness about sex and gender and environmental health issues,” Ms. Lowitt said.
Café Scientifiques are informal events that feature experts in a variety of fields speaking to the general public on issues of popular interest. The Café Scientifique program is funded by the Canada Institutes of Health Research.
Sponsors for this café also include the CIHR Team in Gender, Environment and Health, SafetyNet and the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research. Memorial has previously hosted Café Scientifiques on topics such as health aging, chronic pain and genetic research.