Older moms tend to be more educated, says StatsCan study

The ranks of older mothers with preschool children have swelled in the last 20 years, with the rise in later-in-life motherhood apparently linked to the pursuit of higher education, according to a new report from Statistics Canada, wrote The Canadian Press Sept. 18.

The report found that occupations with the highest proportion of older moms with young kids were those that required a high level of skill and education, including physicians and lawyers – positions that involve years of intensive preparation.

“To be a lawyer or professor or doctor, it’s years of training and then establishing yourself in your career,” said Andrea O’Reilly, founder and director of the Association for Research on Mothering and a professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. “Before you say ‘I feel OK where I am and I’ve established myself’ you are in your late 30s by that time. Then they say ‘Now it’s the time for motherhood,’ so they haven’t excluded that possibility of doing both.”

But O’Reilly, who is also a professor in York’s School of Women’s Studies, said the trend towards later-in-life motherhood is a shift that is happening primarily among middle- to upper-class women rather than across the board.

O’Reilly, 48, who had her first child at 23, said she is an anomaly among many of her peers. The majority of women in her profession have kids after age 35, she noted.

She said she is troubled by comments that cast doubts on whether older women will live to see their children mark milestones later in life, like attending university. “I’m not saying that’s not a concern but I think it’s really not the issue. We can’t organize our life by when we think we’re going to die,” she said.

“Having said that, I do think there’s other issues that will arise as the child ages. What does it mean to be 60 and dealing with a teenager? What happens when you’re about to retire and you have kids starting university?” she added.

“It’s all new and different. It doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s something we haven’t thought through yet. But older mothers are good mothers, and so are young mothers, but we really have this view that there’s this optimum and only time to be a mother and I think that’s false.”

What the pill bottle doesn’t tell you

Women in Canada learned to be wary of the drug industry long ago, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 18.

One trend that particularly worries Anne Rochon Ford, co-director of the National Network on Environments & Women’s Health at York University, who spearheaded the publication of the group’s first book, The Push to Prescribe, is the increase in drugs for dubious ailments such as social anxiety, restless legs, overactive bladder, premenstrual irritability and hot flashes. Not only are these medications a waste of money, they can do long-term harm, wrote the Star.

See the hutongs of Beijing before they’re gone at multimedia art exhibit

An exhibit celebrating a rapidly disappearing way of life is on display now in Centretown, wrote the Ottawa East EMC Sept. 18 in a story about the work of Yam K. Lau, visual arts professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

“Some people call this a kind of memorial to the hutongs,” said Lau of his exhibit, Unfolding Evanescences: Hutong House and Room. “This kind of courtyard architecture is very old in China, nearly 2,000 years old,” he explained of the style of Chinese dwellings, with “four houses built around a communal space,” usually a courtyard. While hutongs are not specific only to the Chinese capital city, “when you speak of hutong houses, Beijing comes to mind. The incorporation of an inner-courtyard is quite common [there.]”

While Lau’s work celebrates one of the most recognizable aspects of China’s architectural past, it also looks at the cultural impact such living arrangements had on the world’s most populous country. “My work is always about types of architecture and ways of life,” he says of the exhibit, and the hutongs themselves, which have “sustained Chinese ways of living and life.”

While the pace of change in China has been remarkable, Lau wanted to preserve the feelings of the oasis of calm to be found in the midst of a major city of more than 15 million people.

“That way of life is very beautiful. Your heartbeat slows down,” he says of his experiences relaxing in a hutong. Looking around, it would not be unusual to see people playing chess, practising tai chi or having tea. “That kind of neighbourhood supports that way of life. [It is] a different rhythm. The energy is very hard to describe…. If you are stuck in a highrise, you don’t have the chance to live that communal aspect of living.”

Graduate student is president of writers’ association

Tanya Gulliver grew up in Bridgenorth and attended Chemong Public School and Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School before going to York’s Glendon College, wrote The Peterborough Examiner Sept. 18 in a profile of the graduate student.

Gulliver is a freelance writer, university instructor and consultant living in North York. She is also a PhD student in environmental studies at York and her research will explore how Hurricane Katrina affected different communities in New Orleans.

Gulliver is in her second term as president of the Professional Writers Association of Canada, which represents more than 600 non-fiction freelance writers across the country.

She is a co-author, along with Nate Hendley and Karen Lloyd, of the newly published Toronto Book of Everything: Everything You Wanted to Know About Toronto and Were Going to Ask Anyway.

FES graduate student chairs first Food Policy Council meeting

The Toronto Youth Food Policy Council is now recruiting members who are interested in food policy, food security, urban agriculture, farming and related topics, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 18 in a story about the group’s first meeting.

“For the first time, youth are being given a voice in the food policy discussion,” says acting Chair Tracy Phillippi, a York University graduate student working on a master’s degree in environmental studies. She’s one of seven members and one consultant on the council.

Immediate plans include creating a newsletter to connect members with food issues and happenings, joining a World Food Day conference with FoodShare on Oct. 16, and planning a winter solstice celebration. The council meets again Oct. 5 at 5:30pm at City Hall.

York student to teach at Studio III Dance

Award-winning choreographer and York student Julia Cosentino, will be bringing her training from Coffey’s Danc’n Place Ltd., York University and the National Ballet School to ballet, jazz and contemporary students at Studio III Dance, wrote the Orangeville Banner , Sept. 17.

Consentino has held various dance titles including Senior Miss award winner at the CanDance competition in 2008 and has choreographed pieces that have won her students Junior Miss Dance 2008, Chapter 43, and Teen Miss Dance 2008, Chapter 43.

On air

  • Leo Panitch, Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science and Senior Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about global market capitalism on AM640 Radio Sept. 17.
  • Ashwin Joshi, marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the place of social networking in business on BNN TV Sept. 17.