Gender, Work-Family Conflict & Depressive Symptoms During the COVID Pandemic among Graduate Students

Monday, November 29, 2021 13:00to14:00
Zoom. Register for link.

Professor Amélie Quesnel-Vallée is our second McGill Research Group on Health and Law seminar speaker. She will speak on research work done with Jaunathan Bilodeau, Nancy Beauregard, and Marie-Christine Brault.

Registration required: kindly RSVP via our Google Form. A Zoom link will be sent to you ahead of the talk.

This event is eligible for 1 hour of CLE as reported by members of the Bar and the Chambre des notaires.


Increasing gender differences in mental health following the COVID-19 crisis represent a major public health concern. Pandemic mitigation public health measures could severely impact populations with a high prevalence of mental health problems such as graduate students.

We document the gendered experience of the lockdown and its association with depressive symptoms among graduate students in Quebec. We examine whether inequalities in depressive symptoms between women and men are linked to their differential exposure or their vulnerability to work, family and study conditions, and what is the mediating role of work-to-family interference (WIF) and family-to-work interference (FIW).

This observational study used path analysis to test our hypotheses using a cross-sectional data collected from 1,790 graduate students from three universities in Quebec. The exposure hypothesis received more support. Women reported more stress regarding new teaching methods, which was associated directly with more depressive symptoms, and indirectly through WIF. Women were more worried about COVID-19, which was associated with more depressive symptoms, and indirectly through WIF and FIW. However, women reported less FIW and more emotional support, both respectively associated with less depressive symptoms. The policy measures taken after the COVID-19 were not gender-neutral. This study demonstrates the importance of taking the potentially gendered effects of policies into consideration, and points to mitigating actions that can forestall the exacerbation of gendered inequalities in mental health.

The speaker

Professor Amélie Quesnel-Vallée holds the Canada Research Chair in Policies and Health Inequalities at McGill University, where she is jointly appointed across the faculties of Arts (Sociology) and Medicine (Epidemiology). She is the founding Director of the McGill Observatory on Health and Social Services Reforms. Her research examines the contribution of policies to social inequalities in health over the life course. It appeared in journals such as The Lancet, the International Journal of Epidemiology, and Social Science & Medicine and was recognized through several international professional associations’ awards, including from the American Sociological Association, the Population Association of America, and the American Public Health Association. Committed to furthering public understanding of science, she is frequently sought by the media such as National Public Radio, the New York Times, and Business Week.

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