Vol 49 No 3 (2019): 49(3)

Gender and the Faculty Care Gap: “The Obvious Go-To Person” for Canadian University Students’ Personal Problems

Tracey Peter
University of Manitoba
Annemieke Farenhorst
University of Manitoba
Published December 10, 2019


A mixed methods analysis of Canadian natural sciences and engineering faculty’s workplace experiences revealed a gendered care gap with women reporting greater responsibility for students’ personal and mental health problems, including suicidal thoughts and behaviour, and sexual assault. Statistical results demonstrated that women were approached by a significantly greater number of students to discuss serious non-academic issues and experienced more stress as a result. A comparative qualitative analysis found faculty’s responses to students’ problems were informed by gendered cultural care expectations that
require women to be more supportive than men. However, female and male faculty’s care burden may also be exacerbated by institutional factors, including senior administrative positions, undergraduate class loads, and teaching courses with mental health-related content. As such, the care gap is relevant to understanding the extent to which gender inequality is embedded within the structure of universities.


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