Symposium on Global Community Engagement

Theme: Contested Spaces, Contested Impact
2022 Symposium on Global Community Engagement 
Hosted by the Office of Regional and International Community Engagement (ORICE), UBC
March 10, 2022
Cheryl-lee Madden Presentation

I explored the question of gendered labour as a contested space in meaningful, impactful ways.  How are these gendered spaces impacted—for whom? By whom? In what ways? Gendered work spaces during COVID-19 became contested spaces of safety and power, disproportionately affecting women in traditional service-orientated care-giving roles. I engaged attendees in dialogue, learning together about “Contested Spaces, Contested Impact” and posed questions to the audience on how to become “potential” policy makers during my presentation in this symposium.

We explored the impact of the spatial mismatch research and my work on the topic of gender inequality disproportionately affecting women during COVID-19 job loss. Retail food service workers in precarious low-wage jobs became “essential” overnight—the majority of whom were women in traditional caregiving roles—yet were the first to find themselves unemployed with lockdown measures, experienced when a coffee shop closed, for example. This means women will be permanently left behind, as many of those jobs will not return post-pandemic.

We examined the V6K postal code census area for Kitsilano, Vancouver and became our own GIS Open Street map makers collecting data envisioning where these “essential” workers live, their transportation commute times to work, and where they potentially would be able to afford to live.

The intended impact of this research is to write a policy brief to social analysts in Vancouver City Hall to create affordable housing strategies in the most expensive city in which to rent in Canada.

I opened up a Google map and helped attendees work out the problem of finding affordable housing, short commute times to work (journey to work), and employment, either a café or restaurant or food retail job with less educational demands (most of which are precarious, unstable and low-wage employment) for those women who have just immigrated to Canada and lack many of the social support services Canadians enjoy.,+BC+V6K/@49.2655872,-123.1831411,14z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x548673ada1fa40c1:0xaa577963b257abc9!8m2!3d49.2652639!4d-123.1676483

The group then discussed where these single-parent-family women-led households could find work, housing, and low transportation trip times to their work.

We also discussed how spatial mismatch (the idea that those with less education find longer commute times to work and work in low-wage jobs) might shed a light on the labour force post-pandemic. Have we ever thought of those who serve us our coffee? Where do they live, and how long is their work day? Do they experience precarious, unstable work? How could they gain meaningful employment and find entrance into higher post-secondary education or gain their high school diploma (GED)? Then, what if they are single mothers on social assistance? Without child care help because they can’t afford day care costs? Could they learn English as a second language (ESL) to get their high school equivalency by registering to take General Educational Development (GED) tests? GED tests cover five different subject areas, and a person must pass all five to get their GED certification (certified Canadian high school equivalency). Would these women be able to find the time while child rearing and working?

The hour ended with the group being asked to consider potential policy recommendations for the Vancouver City Hall social planners.

Cheryl-lee Madden (she/her/hers)

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