York students publish research on workplace gender discrimination

Pregnant office worker shutterstock

A paper by undergraduate students in York University’s School of Human Resource Management, titled “Discrimination against women in the workplace: Review and recommendations for more inclusive organizations,” was published in the esteemed International Journal of Employment Studies. It examines the pervasive issue of discrimination against women in the workplace, addressing key areas such as gender bias, motherhood and pregnancy discrimination, and the gender pay gap.

Students Nicki Nguyen, Nishana Ganesh and Sarah Versteeg initially began their work in Professor Duygu Biricik Gulseren’s Occupational Health and Safety class, where one of their assignments was to review 10 recent research articles on a workplace health and safety topic of their interest. Gulseren was so impressed with their work, she invited the students to expand their review and collaborate with her.

Together, the team conducted a larger literature review on workplace discrimination against women, focusing on three common types: gender bias, pregnancy and motherhood discrimination, and pay gap. Investigating why, how and when discrimination against women occurs in the workplace, they found that the discrimination is directly related to factors like gender, pregnancy or motherhood status, and compensation in the workplace.

“This paper aims to provide a research synthesis and evidence-based recommendations for [human resources] leaders wishing to prevent gender discrimination demonstrated through gender bias, motherhood and pregnancy discrimination, and the gender pay gap,” says Gulseren. “It also serves as an up-to-date review for researchers interested in this topic.”

Drawing upon the latest evidence available, the paper offers practical recommendations for organizations striving to bolster their gender diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. It serves as a valuable resource for businesses aiming to foster a more inclusive and equitable work environment.

Under their professor’s guidance, the students have made a significant contribution to the field of workplace diversity and inclusion, an accomplishment most undergraduate students can’t claim. Gulseren is proud of her students’ impact.

“The paper is published in a peer-reviewed journal listed in the selective Australian Business Deans Council journal list along with papers from other, mostly PhD-level, researchers,” she explains. “This is a tremendous achievement for undergraduate students. They pushed the field forward by making a novel and meaningful contribution to the academic discourse on gender diversity in organizations.”

Grant funds York-led household energy insecurity study

Bogota, Colombia historic centre

Godfred Boateng, an assistant professor in York University’s School of Global Health and Canada Research Chair in Global Health and Humanitarianism, has been awarded a grant by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development for a two-year project on household energy insecurity in Colombia.

Godfred Boateng
Godfred Boateng

Valued at $136,899, the grant will support the implementation of Boateng’s Household Energy Insecurity, Health and Sustainable Livelihoods in Colombia (HEINS) project – co-led by Diego Iván Lucumí Cuesta from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia – between March 2024 and February 2026.

The HEINS study is a continuation of Boateng’s leading work in comprehensively measuring and understanding resource insecurity across the Global South, undertaken at the Global & Environmental Health Lab at York’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research as part of his mandate as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair.

In deciding to study this topic, the York professor observed that measurement of energy insecurity has historically been limited to the macro level – representing a country or region – and has not been widely extended to the household level, particularly outside the Global North. He also noticed there has been little assessment of the relationship between household energy insecurity and health outcomes among women and children in the Global South. As a result, it is difficult to determine how inadequate access to clean and safe energy sources impacts women and children differently in the household. It also becomes difficult to propose strategies to ensure clean energy transitions that effectively target the needs of that demographic.  

Boateng’s HEINS project, which will be conducted in three municipalities in the Choco province of Colombia, will address these issues. It will use a mixed-methods approach to find out whether or not household energy insecurity uniquely impacts disease, socioeconomic and psychosocial outcomes. The project will also produce and validate a scale – one of the first of its kind in Latin America – that can be used to comprehensively assess the impact of household energy insecurity on women, infants and children.

“With this grant, my team and I will advance current scholarship on the adverse effects of household energy insecurity in Latin America,” said Boateng. “It will produce a novel instrument for identifying energy insecurity hotspots, which will serve as recruiting points for a longitudinal study that examines the effect of energy insecurity and indoor air pollution from conception through the first two years of life.”

Ultimately, the goal of the project is to generate scientific evidence to develop sound, scalable technologies and strategies to ensure equitable clean energy transitions across the Global South. Through this study, Boateng and the Global & Environmental Health Lab, in partnership with Lucumí Cuesta, will advance research that promotes equitable access, good health, human development and environmental sustainability.  

Teaching Commons helps navigate difficult classroom conversations

Teacher speaking too students in class

To help instructors navigate sensitive issues and challenging classroom dynamics, the Teaching Commons has launched a new toolkit and series of professional development sessions focused on difficult moments and conversations in the classroom.

Nona Robinson
Nona Robinson

On March 14, the Teaching Commons will host the second of a series of workshops in partnership with Nona Robinson, vice-provost students. Titled “Effective Classroom Facilitation: Managing disruptions, addressing controversial topics and supporting equity-deserving students,” this virtual session will offer concrete tools, strategies and resources for facilitating productive conversations in the classroom.

“I’m always happy to work with faculty members on student support, inclusion, and preventing and managing conflict” says Robinson. “I know this can be a source of stress for many of us, and this is a great opportunity for colleagues to share experiences and helpful ideas.” 

The session accompanies a new Facilitating Dialogue and Challenging Conversations in the Classroom resource site, also referred to as a toolkit, housed on the Teaching Commons website. and led by educational developer Shani Kipang.

“One of the goals has been to help members of the University community revisit commonly used terms like ‘safety’ and ‘comfort,’ and to think critically and collaboratively about what it means and looks like to build accountable spaces,” says Kipang, who has worked with the Teaching Commons over the past year to support initiatives in decolonizing, equity, diversity and inclusion (DEDI).

The toolkit provides a range of resources to support productive dialogue and collaborative learning in the classroom. Included in it are topic-specific resources such as strategies for facilitating discussion, addressing harm and creating community guidelines.

Shani Kipang
Shani Kipang

“Our hope is to help instructors walk into the classroom with clear goals and responsive strategies, so students can be motivated to engage and have the sense that it will be worthwhile,” she explains. “We want to help instructors address unanticipated situations with intention, and to support meaningful and carefully guided opportunities for learners to engage with critical issues in ways that shape how they learn and work and interact in the world.”

Ameera Ali
Ameera Ali

In addition to the March 14 workshop, the Teaching Commons offers a variety of other opportunities to explore strategies for teaching in times of crisis and integrating DEDI-informed pedagogies. Among these are a workshop series on trauma-informed pedagogies and a DEDI community of practice – a space where teachers can come together to learn, share, and question a wide array of topics related to DEDI in teaching and learning.

In partnership with York’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion and faculty co-facilitators, these initiatives are led by Ameera Ali, an educational developer in the Teaching Commons with a portfolio focused on equity, diversity and inclusion.

“These offerings invite folks to come together to collectively reflect on and discuss various aspects of trauma, race, disability, gender, wellness, belonging and more,” she says. “And through this work, building understanding in these areas, we can better support meaningful dialogue and connection within the classroom.”

For more information on resources and upcoming sessions, visit the Teaching Commons website or contact them via email at teaching@yorku.ca.

Teaching Commons seeks presenters for upcoming TiF conference in May

Speaker giving a talk in conference hall at business event. Audience at the conference hall.

By Elaine Smith

With a new vice-provost teaching and learning and an interim director of the Teaching Commons in place, York University’s annual Teaching in Focus (TiF) conference this May will have a slightly different look and feel, and a theme reflective of the times.

Mandy Frake-Mistak, the Teaching Commons’ interim director, and her team are seeking presenters for the two-day conference, which will be held in person this year on May 8 and 9. The theme for this year’s conference is Engaged Teaching in Times of Crisis and proposals are due on Feb. 29.

In addition to crisis-related presentations, there are opportunities for presentations about Academic Innovation Fund projects and experiential education/work-integrated learning. Presenters may speak individually, in teams or as panel members, and all faculty and graduate students are encouraged to consider taking part.

“Based on feedback from the Task Force on the Future of Pedagogy, we know that faculty members want more opportunities to communicate about what they’re doing in the classroom, and TiF will continue to be a great place for that to happen,” says Chloë Brushwood Rose, vice-provost teaching learning. “However, we also want to offer opportunities for conversations around philosophical and critical issues in teaching and learning, not only about practices. We want to highlight people who are thinking in interesting ways and from a range of perspectives about teaching and learning, especially in complex times.”

People are grappling with conflicts in the classroom and conflicts in the world simultaneously, explains Brushwood Rose. The role of the University, she believes, should be to provide a space to talk about pedagogy more broadly.

Frake-Mistak shares that view.

“When we see crisis on a global scale, we can’t help but bring it home, and it shapes how we process information and our dealings with our peers,” she says. “We are trying to support people through this. It’s one thing to share resources, but what about what happens in the classroom?”

And that is where TiF comes in.

The conference will also feature TiF Reads, a panel reminiscent of the popular Canada Reads competition on CBC Radio. Presenters can champion a teaching- or learning-related book, journal article or other resource that inspired them during the past year and attendees will vote for a winner.

“TiF has been a mainstay on our calendar since 2013 and we want to champion it so it is continually growing and getting better,” says Frake-Mistak. “We want to recognize the community who have dedicated their livelihoods to teaching and learning; there are so many unsung heroes. It’s an opportunity to bring people together to champion teaching and learning and propel it forward.”

Brushwood Rose agrees.

“We look forward to TiF being as well attended and energizing as ever.”

Take this opportunity to fill out a presenter’s application form.

Prof’s new book reveals communicative capacities of textile

Peruvian Andes weaving patterns

Long before the invention of the typewriter or the telephone, and even before humankind had a functioning alphabet, communication was taking place through textile craft. Ganaele Langlois, a professor in York University’s Department of Communication & Media Studies, has published a new book exploring just that – the often-ignored transformative communicative capacities of traditional textiles.

A Shipibo-Conibo (Peruvian Amazon) design being drawn on textile using natural pigments. Photo by Ganaele Langlois.
Ganaele Langlois
Ganaele Langlois

How Textile Communicates: from Codes to Cosmotechnics (Bloomsbury, 2024) is a thought-provoking contribution to the fields of both fashion and communication studies, challenging readers’ preconceptions and shining new light on the profound impact of textiles on human communication.

Textile, Langlois explains, has been used as a medium of communication since the prehistoric period. Up until the 19th century, civilizations throughout the world manipulated thread and fabric to communicate in a way that she believes would astound many of us now.

“We often think of the digital as something that is brand new and contemporary, but the fact is that digital modes of communication such as textile weaving, knitting, lace-making, and so on have existed and been used as means of communication and information storage long before the invention of the alphabet,” says Langlois.

In the book, she dissects textile’s unique capacity for communication through a range of global case studies, before examining the profound impact of colonialism on textile practice and the appropriation of the medium by capitalist systems.

“I was intrigued as to why in my own field, communication and media studies, textile has never received the same in-depth treatment as other media,” she says. “I explain the reasons for this in this book – mostly related to colonialism and capitalist appropriation – and explore how traditional textile practices continue their important and unique work of communication today.”

York profs, alumni help expand UNESCO’s history of Africa

africa map in brown color

In 1964, the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) began a project aiming to rewrite the history of the entire African continent, from the first appearance of humans through to modern-day Africa and its diasporas.

Cover of "General History of Africa, X: Africa and its Diasporas"

To accomplish that feat, the organization called upon more than 230 leading experts in the field of African studies, whose work was overseen by an International Scientific Committee. The finished product, the General History of Africa, was completed in 1999 and included eight richly illustrated volumes.

A lot has changed since 1999, however, so UNESCO continued its work and recently published three new volumes reflecting the latest social, political, and archaeological developments on the continent and beyond.

One of those volumes, General history of Africa, X: Africa and its diasporas, edited by University of Pennsylvania Professor Vanicléia Silva Santos, includes contributions from many York University community members – both faculty and alumni – signifying their trusted expertise in the field.

Michele Johnson
Michele Johnson

The York-affiliated contributors are: Professor Michele A. Johnson, associate dean of students in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies; Paul E. Lovejoy, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus and Canada Research Chair in the Department of History; Nielson Rosa Bezerra, former Banting Fellow (2012-14) at York’s Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa & its Diasporas; and alumni Mohammed Bashir Salau (PhD), Olatunji Ojo (PhD), Vanessa S. Oliveira (PhD) and Behnaz Mirzai (PhD).

Paul Lovejoy
Paul Lovejoy

“The three new volumes are important because they break with the former continental approach to Africa to address ‘global Africa,’ where people went into diaspora,” explains Lovejoy, a member of the project’s International Scientific Committee whose role it was to organize one-third of Volume X.

His major contribution involved assembling over 200 pages of essays, which he then edited and composed an introduction for.

“The whole series,” Lovejoy says, “is a monumental achievement and important reference that targets not only current scholarship but also schools, libraries and a public that does not easily have access to scholarly analysis – not only in Africa but throughout the world.”

With editions now available in English, Portuguese and French, he says the publication will eventually be translated into many more languages to maximize its reach and impact.

For more information about the project and publications, visit General History of Africa | UNESCO.

New lecture series to spotlight York’s research leadership

innovation image

York University’s Organized Research Units (ORU) are launching the Big Thinking Lecture Series, which will feature researchers, artists and activists taking up some of the world’s most pressing issues and ideas in their fields, from water research and aging to digital literacy and more.

As a leader in research and innovative thinking, York has a lot to show in the ways its faculty and students are helping right the future with big ideas. The new lecture series, which will consist of various talks and artistic events held throughout the calendar year, will see expert York speakers present research and creative works that span their respective fields, which include muscle health, Indigenous knowledges and languages, youth and aging, Canadian studies, technoscience and society, feminist activism, and Jewish social and political thought.

John Tsotsos
John Tsotsos

“This bold new series will showcase the depth and breadth of research excellence generated by York’s Organized Research Units and their commitment to fostering critical thought and dialogue on today’s global challenges,” said Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation. “The Big Thinking Lecture Series builds on York’s proud tradition of interdisciplinary scholarship and participatory research. I applaud the ORU directors for bringing this series forward.”

The inaugural lecture of the series, titled “Vision Beyond a Glance,” is presented by the Centre for Vision Research and will feature John Tsotsos, a Distinguished Research Professor in the Lassonde School of Engineering. He will explore the meaning of vision and explain how we effortlessly perform visual tasks many times a day. The in-person event will take place on Jan. 26 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in 519 Kaneff Tower.

For more details about the inaugural event and the series itself, visit yorku.ca/research/bigthinking.

LA&PS prof publishes three books in one month

colorful book shelf banner

A busy 2023 has led to Hassan Qudrat-Ullah, a professor in York University’s School of Administrative Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), publishing three new books in short succession this past November, covering topics as diverse as systems thinking, supply chain management and sustainable development.

Hassan Qudrat-Ullah
Hassan Qudrat-Ullah

The first of the three, Managing Complex Tasks with Systems Thinking (Springer, 2023), is about improving human decision making and performance in complex tasks. Using a systems thinking approach, it presents innovative and insightful solutions to various managerial issues in various domains, including agriculture, education, climate change, digital transformation, health care, supply chains and sustainability.

Qudrat-Ullah’s second recently published work, a co-edited volume with York University Research Fellow Syed Imran Ali called Advanced Technologies and the Management of Disruptive Supply Chains: The Post-COVID Era (Springer, 2023), explores the cost-effective and efficient supply chain management strategies required to achieve resilience in the post-COVID environment.

“The book follows a didactic approach through which it informs global researchers and practitioners to deal with the most significant insights on future supply chains with a more in-depth analysis of post-COVID opportunities and challenges,” said Qudrat-Ullah. “In particular, it provides an in-depth assessment of disruptive supply chain management in certain industrial contexts and explores various industry 4.0 and industry 5.0 technologies to achieve resilience.”

The final book of the bunch, Exploring the Dynamics of Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development in Africa: A Cross-Country and Interdisciplinary Approach (Springer, 2023), explores the potential of renewable energy sources to promote sustainable development in Africa, with a specific focus on Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa and Algeria. It delves into the challenges and opportunities presented by various renewable and clean energy technologies, including nuclear power, liquefied petroleum gas, bamboo biomass gasification and geothermal energy in addressing the energy needs of African nations. Additionally, it assesses the socio-economic and environmental impacts of renewable energy projects and evaluates their alignment with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“The book’s interdisciplinary and cross-country approach, as well as its incorporation of innovative concepts like social innovation and bamboo-based development, makes it a unique resource,” said the author.

Two profs earn awards for postdoctoral mentorship excellence

Audience clapping

York University’s Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) honoured two exceptional professors, Alison Crosby and Amro Zayed, with the Postdoctoral Supervisor Award during an FGS council meeting on Dec. 7. The award is presented annually to a faculty member in any department and program at York who demonstrates exemplary support for postdoctoral scholars.

This award serves to applaud Crosby and Zayed for exceeding general supervisory expectations to their postdoctoral Fellows while acknowledging the important work performed by both the professors and Fellows. Alice MacLachlan, vice-provost and dean of graduate studies, said the two recipients embody the award’s spirit of mentorship creativity, excellence and dedication. “You serve as a role model for all of us to follow,” she added.

“This is the kind of work that places York in the top 40 globally in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, through our work as a progressive, research-intensive institution,” said Lisa Philipps, provost and vice-president academic.

Alison Crosby

Alison Crosby
Alison Crosby

Crosby is an associate professor and interim Chair of the School of Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies. Her research projects and publications use an anti-racist, anti-colonial and transnational feminist lens and participatory methodologies to support protagonists’ multifaceted struggles to redress and memorialize harm in the aftermath of political violence, with a particular focus on Guatemala, where she has worked for over 30 years.

Crosby is currently working on the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council-funded project “Remembering and Memorializing Violence: Transnational Feminist Dialogues,” which brings together feminist scholars, artists, activists and community practitioners from a wide range of contexts and disciplinary perspectives to explore the transnational dimensions of how we collectively remember and memorialize colonial, militarized and state violence. The project also provided Crosby’s postdoctoral Fellow, Ruth Murambadoro, with a space to house her research and become part of this digital community.

“Professor Crosby embodies Ubuntu principles of communitarianism, humility, mutual respect, hospitality and so much more, which have enabled me to integrate and chart a new pathway for my career in Canada,” noted Murambadoro in her nomination letter. “She remains a key player in my life and role model, who taught me fundamental lessons on collegiality, humanness and effective mentorship. I value the contributions that Prof. Crosby has made in my research, scholarly and personal development over the time we have worked together.”

In response to the award win, Crosby said, “It’s my pleasure, privilege and honour to work with postdoc Fellows.” Of her nominator, she said, “I look forward to my collaborations with her for many years to come.”

Amro Zayed

Amro Zayed
Amro Zayed

Zayed, a professor in the Department of Biology and York Research Chair in Genomics, is currently the inaugural director of York’s Centre for Bee Ecology, Evolution & Conservation, leading a research program on the genetics, genomics and behaviour of social insects, using the honey bee as a model organism. 

Zayed’s lab provides opportunities to conduct research and network with academics and industry partners worldwide. Since 2009, Zayed has supervised eight postdoctoral Fellows who have collectively produced a total of 28 peer-reviewed publications and 71 conference presentations. He aims to equip postdoctoral Fellows with the skills necessary to successfully navigate the increasingly competitive job market.

“His approach to leadership has inspired us to seek creative solutions in research and to collaborate with diverse groups of stakeholders,” stated Sydney Wizenberg and Sarah French in their letter of nomination. “To this end, Amro exemplifies all of the characteristics one would expect of an intellectual leader and role model. He provides a unilateral environment of support to his research group. He is personally invested in our success and well-being, going above and beyond to help with professional skill development. He is actively involved in our career development, prioritizing our long-term success over our short-term role in his group.”

Zayed was caught off-guard by the award. “I was really surprised by this,” he admitted. “When I started my career, I never appreciated the joy of having postdocs.”

The Postdoctoral Supervisor of the Year Award accepts nominations annually by no later than June 1 of each year. Nomination letters should provide evidence that the nominee meets the following criteria: is a role model for intellectual leadership and professionalism in research; fosters an environment of support for professional skill development; promotes a climate of respect and collegiality; and offers advocacy and guidance in long-term personal and professional developments.

For more information, visit gradstudies.yorku.ca/postdoctoral-fellows/supervisor-award.

York collaborates on new app to help women experiencing abuse 

Woman with two children, holding smartphone

A new app developed by a collaborative research team that includes York University Assistant Professor Karen Campbell aims to help Canadian women experiencing partner violence and abuse.

Karen Campbell
Karen Campbell

The iHEAL app was designed as a free, secure, bilingual resource for the more than 40 per cent of Canadian women who are victims of abuse, says Campbell, a registered nurse in York’s School of Nursing. 

According to the iHEAL team – which includes researchers and experts from Western University, the University of British Columbia, the University of New Brunswick and York University – only 20 per cent of women who experience intimate partner violence access formal support. 

“There are many barriers to receiving services, including shame, stigma, fears over privacy and anonymity, fear of the abuser finding out, or just not knowing where to start or what to expect,” says Campbell. “Furthermore, services can be hard to access with long waitlists, costs to women who require transportation or time off work, and some services do not meet women’s cultural needs.” 

To address these barriers, the team developed the private, secure and free app iHEAL, which is backed by two decades of research and was developed and tested with women and service providers. 

“The iHEAL app is intended to help women across Canada, who have experienced violence from a current or past partner, find personalized ways to stay safe and healthy while getting their basic needs met and reclaiming their power,” says Campbell. “Through an interactive platform, it offers users help with safe housing, food, health and well-being, child care, finances, legal options and builds a network of support.”

Features of the iHEAL app include risk and health assessments, grounding exercises and safety features to attend to women’s physical, spiritual, and emotional safety and well-being. The app also provides information about services that women may find helpful, with links to more than 400 of these resources across Canada, personalized to the woman’s province or territory.

iHeal app screenshot
A screenshot from the iHeal app.

“iHEAL is what we call trauma- and violence-informed: it’s designed to work with women where they’re at, to recognize the many types of stressors and traumas, including partner violence but also other potential violence and barriers that can be affecting their ability to plan their next steps,” says Campbell. “It emphasizes their strength and their successes in keeping safe, as well as looking for ways to build on those. It also takes into account complexity – of their life, and their options – and gives her control over what’s next.”

The app is designed for women but is also useful for friends and family supporting women. Women can use the app to help explain to others the health, social and financial effects of the violence. Those supporting women who are victims of abuse might use the app to find a way to approach a conversation about abuse. 

The iHEAL app is available in English and French online and can be accessed on a computer or downloaded to a mobile device. Other resources, including printable posters and stickers, are also available. 

The development of iHEAL is supported by funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, with contributions from Women and Gender Equality Canada.

Watch a video on iHEAL to learn more: