Karen Messing

Karen Messing
Université du Québec à Montréal | UQAM · Department of Biological Sciences

Ph.D.

About

218
Publications
33,311
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Introduction
Karen Messing currently works at the Department of Biological Sciences, U. du Québec à Montréal. Her research is on gender, ergonomics and occupational health. Current projects: atypical schedules and work; gender and data analysis;gender-conscious participatory action-oriented research. New book: Bent out of Shape: Shame, Solidarity and Women’s Bodies at Work. En français, Korean. Also Pain and Prejudice: What Scientists can learn about work from the people who do it.In French, Korean, German.
Additional affiliations
August 1976 - present
Université du Québec à Montréal
Position
  • Professor Emeritus
Education
September 1970 - May 1975
McGill University
Field of study
  • Biology

Publications

Publications (218)
Article
Since the establishment of the Gender and Work Technical Committee (TC) of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) in 2006, many researchers have addressed the role of sex and gender in ergonomics, producing a great deal of new information. This special issue aims to present new ways of viewing women's work and gender differences in work-rel...
Article
Background: The International Ergonomics Association (IEA) is an international federation of associations created in 1959, whose mission is to extend the scope of ergonomics research and intervention to all spheres of society in order to improve human well-being. Objective: This article presents an overview of the main research papers that were...
Article
Ergonomists intervene to improve work for all workers and adapt jobs to a range of worker characteristics. But their mandate rarely includes explicit attention to the distribution of worker demographics, to divisions among workers, or to discrimination on the basis of sex/gender or racialization. A decades-long collaboration between ergonomists and...
Article
This article aims to analyze the integration of sex and gender (s/g) by ergonomics students during their internship at the master's degree level, following training sessions on s/g issues in the workplace. This exploratory research used a descriptive mixed-methods design, encompassing evaluation of students' intention to use the content from the tr...
Chapter
When trying to take sex and gender into account in participatory research, the challenges of knowledge users and researchers can be quite different. This communication aims to present perspectives of both stakeholders and researchers involved in occupational health intervention research (IR) studies about the facilitators and obstacles to consideri...
Chapter
Many workplaces segregate jobs, tasks, and responsibilities by gender, with negative effects on workers’ health. Ergonomists can play a visible or a more subtle role in transforming these situations. Our experiences lead us to ask how to approach gender issues in interventions, how to deal with resistance from employers and employees, and how ergon...
Chapter
The purpose of this study is to review the methods used to integrate sex and gender (s/g) in intervention research (RI) projects. The findings are based on a retrospective analysis of twelve IR projects. A thematic content analysis of the twelve in-depth interviews conducted with the researchers involved in the IRs was carried out. The results show...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We trained M.Sc. students learning a work activity-centered approach to ergonomics to use a sex- and gender-sensitive lens. Such a lens is useful for ergonomic analysis because gender can affect exposure to some workplace health determinants. Sex and gender training was given in two sessions during students' final year, as part of an intervention i...
Book
Table of Contents at https://btlbooks.com/book/bent-out-of-shape Award-winning ergonomist Karen Messing is talking with women—women who wire circuit boards, sew clothes, clean toilets, drive forklifts, care for children, serve food, run labs. What she finds is a workforce in harm’s way, choked into silence, whose physical and mental health invaria...
Article
Full-text available
Work activity ergonomics (sometimes called francophone ergonomics) draws heavily on observation in order to support transformation of work to arrive at better health without interfering with productivity. Recently, ergonomists have attempted to integrate gender into their interventions. At the same time, ergonomists have been observing and document...
Article
Full-text available
Background Women report more work-related pain and neck/shoulder musculoskeletal disorders than men. For the same absolute workload, due to lower strength, females generally work at a higher relative intensity, which could induce more fatigue. However, the arm’s anthropometric load (AL) of men is higher. Therefore, simply lifting their arm could be...
Article
At the 2018 IEA conference, the Gender and Work Technical Committee organized three symposia with over 20 presentations. Overall, these contributions positioned ergonomics as a theoretical and pragmatic approach developing innovative methods to integrate sex/gender analysis into the construction and evaluation of interventions. This special issue o...
Article
The aim of this article is to examine the impacts of incorporating sex and gender (s/g) analysis in integrated knowledge translation (iKT) initiatives in the field of ergonomics and occupational health. The article presents findings based on a retrospective analysis of twelve intervention-research (IR) studies, including a thematic content analysis...
Article
Balancing work and family is a continuous and growing challenge, requiring carefully chosen coping strategies. In spite of the growing amount of research on work-family balance, successful, long term solutions are still not readily available to most workers who are trying to cope with the tensions involved in fulfilling both work and family roles....
Chapter
The Université du Québec à Montréal has signed agreements with community groups providing access to help with research and training initiatives. In this context, a union-university partnership performed research aimed at improving occupational health and gender equality. Over its 17-year lifetime, researchers responded to twenty union requests for...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose: Computer work has been identified as a risk factor for upper extremity musculoskeletal problems (UEMSP). But few studies have investigated how psychosocial and organizational work factors affect this relation. Nor have gender differences in the relation between UEMSP and these work factors been studied. We sought to estimate: (1) the asso...
Article
Low-wage work and rigid atypical schedules reduce workers’ leeway to manage their work/family interface, resulting in high levels of work/family conflict and in health issues. Faced with these inflexible conditions and a lack of formal work/family measures, workers rely primarily on informal practices where relational dynamics with coworkers and ma...
Article
Women’s workplaces should guarantee healthy pregnancies while supporting pregnant women as workers. In Québec (Canada), a pregnant worker exposed to a “danger” for herself or her fetus may ask her employer to be reassigned to other work appropriate to her skills. This approach differs from other regulatory contexts in North America in that protecti...
Article
The University of Québec in Montréal has agreements with trade unions providing access to university resources. Researchers involved in this program worked in partnership with union women’s and health and safety committees for more than twenty years. Not all studies succeeded in improving women’s working conditions. One joint project involved obser...
Article
The continuing worldwide struggle for decent working conditions is under intense economic, social, and political pressures. Women are particularly affected by these pressures because of their still-tenuous position in the service sector, in lowprestige, low-paid occupations. In addition, their occupational health issues are often overlooked or mini...
Article
Les horaires atypiques imposés compliquent la conciliation travail-famille (CTF), particulièrement lorsqu’ils sont associés à un travail impliquant un bas salaire, un faible contrôle sur le travail, ou du temps partiel involontaire. Un nombre grandissant de travailleuses et de travailleurs sont exposés à ces horaires, mais peu d’études se sont inté...
Article
Some evidence shows that food servers are exposed to an elevated risk of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries, and that their work activity varies by gender. Interviews of servers and observations of food service in Québec, Canada, were carried out in three restaurants and a questionnaire was administered to 64 workers from 44 other restaurants....
Article
Full-text available
Autrefois, les soins aux ainé.e.saîné.e.s étaient surtout assurés par des femmes non rémunérées anonymes, chez elles. Celles-ci étant entrées sur le marché du travail, beaucoup de ces soins sont maintenant assurés par des préposés aux bénéficiaires (PAB), surtout féminins. Avec l’introduction massive de la gestion par indicateurs dans les organisme...
Article
Full-text available
Work-family balancing (WFB), usually associated with women, is affected by scheduling, flexibility of working arrangements, organizational support, and other workplace parameters. Following a request from the women’s committee of a union confederation, we analysed retail work done on unpredictable, variable, extended schedules. Among other procedur...
Conference Paper
Introduction Reducing health inequalities is a worldwide public health priority. The objectives of this study are to characterise social inequalities related to WMSD-associated work exposures and how they differ by gender/sex. Method Study data were from the 2007–2008 Quebec Survey on Working and Employment Conditions and OHS. Gender/sex stratifie...
Article
Full-text available
Cet article rend compte du travail collectif en enseignement d’un métier à prédominance masculine en formation professionnelle au secondaire au Québec et des obstacles à sa réalisation. S’inscrivant dans le paradigme interprétatif, cette recherche exploratoire s’appuie sur le modèle de la situation de travail centré sur la personne en activité et v...
Article
The meaning, feasibility, and importance of scientific objectivity have been debated among public health scientists. The debate is particularly relevant to occupational health, because of frequent opposition between employer and worker interests. This article suggests that the concept of standpoint (J. Eakin) may be more useful than that of objecti...
Article
Abstract Gender (socially-determined) differences in occupations, employment and working conditions, task assignments, and work methods that affect exposure to health risks are increasingly documented. Interactions of (biologically-influenced) sex differences with workplace parameters may also influence exposure levels. During field studies, ergono...
Conference Paper
While a large body of research documents the nature of informal home care, almost none focus on informal, unpaid and largely invisible long-term care (LTC) work by family, volunteers or students, or the paid work of private companions. Heavy work results from people’s unpredictable and irregular needs as well as austerity measures that result in to...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Cette communication vise, à travers le cas de l’activité de travail des préposées et préposés aux bénéficiaires (PAB) de centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée, à discuter l’intérêt de l’analyse des indicateurs de gestion et de documentation pour les ergonomes. Elle rapporte des résultats d’un projet de recherche mené conjointement, dans...
Article
Increasingly, work schedules in retail sales are generated by software that takes into account variations in predicted sales. The resulting variable and unpredictable schedules require employees to be available, unpaid, over extended periods. At the request of a union, we studied schedule preferences in a retail chain in Québec using observations,...
Article
Objectives: We examined underestimation of nontraumatic work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) stemming from underreporting to workers' compensation (WC). Methods: In data from the 2007 to 2008 Québec Survey on Working and Employment Conditions and Occupational Health and Safety we estimated, among nonmanagement salaried employees (NMSEs...
Article
Full-text available
Thinking about women's occupational health reveals tensions that are involved in doing all occupational health research. By 'tensions' we mean conflicting pressures that are not easily or perhaps ever resolved. Recognising such tensions can lead to better science, even when the underlying issues persist. Based on research about women's occupational...
Article
Full-text available
RÉSUMÉ L'ergonomie est la discipline qui a pour objet de transformer les milieux de travail afin d'améliorer la santé. L'ergonome entreprend ses travaux à la suite d'une demande du milieu. Bien que la division des emplois, des postes et des tâches de travail selon le genre puisse poser des problèmes pour la santé et le bien-être des femmes et des h...
Article
Full-text available
L’ergonomie est la discipline qui a pour objet de transformer les milieux de travail afin d’ameliorer la sante. L’ergonome entreprend ses travaux a la suite d’une demande du milieu. Bien que la division des emplois, des postes et des tâches de travail selon le genre puisse poser des problemes pour la sante et le bien-etre des femmes et des hommes,...
Conference Paper
While a large body of research documents the nature of informal home care there is almost no research documenting informal (invisible) unpaid nursing home care (by family, volunteers or students), or the “other paid work" of privately paid companions. Previous research has established how the heaviest workloads in nursing homes occur during morning...
Article
In recent decades there has been an increasing recognition of the need to account for sex and gender in biology and medicine, in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of biological phenomena and to address gaps in medical knowledge that have arisen due to a generally masculine bias in research. We have noted that as basic experimental...
Article
Full-text available
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) represent a complex and multi-faceted challenge, requiring multi-disciplinary, multi-perspective research approaches ranging from fundamental, basic science research to studies of applied workplace-based interventions. Members of the MSD Research Axis of the Quebec Occupational Health and Safety Resear...
Article
BACKGROUND: Some proposed mechanisms for the development of back discomfort and musculoskeletal disorders relate to fatigue of trunk musculature, but these phenomena require further investigation. Hydrostatic pressure changes in vascular tissue are thought to drive development of lower limb discomfort and vascular disorders; however, specific vascu...
Article
Full-text available
La littérature scientifique reconnaît l’origine multifactorielle des troubles musculo-squelettiques (TMS) liés au travail. Au-delà des facteurs biomécaniques et personnels, les facteurs organisationnels et psychosociaux contribuent également à la genèse des TMS liés au travail, mais les relations entre ces problèmes de santé et ces facteurs d’expos...
Article
Full-text available
The Invisible that hurts Born from preoccupations of equality and trade union demands in the 1970s, partnerships between universities and trade unions led to training and research on the health of women workers in Quebec. Various themes emerged, including the recognition of particularly difficult and demanding tasks mostly performed by women, conci...
Article
Full-text available
BACKGROUND: Some proposed mechanisms for the development of back discomfort and musculoskeletal disorders relate to fatigue of trunk musculature, but these phenomena require further investigation. Hydrostatic pressure changes in vascular tissue are thought to drive development of lower limb discomfort and vascular disorders; however, specific vascu...
Article
Full-text available
Montréal. Il a pour mission la promotion et la valorisation de la recherche. Érudit offre des services d'édition numérique de documents scientifiques depuis 1998. Note : les règles d'écriture des références bibliographiques peuvent varier selon les différents domaines du savoir. Ce document est protégé par la loi sur le droit d'auteur. L'utilisatio...
Article
Full-text available
Au Quebec, des donnees specifiques concernant les conditions d’emploi, de travail et de remuneration des hommes et des femmes sont publiees regulierement. Depuis peu, des donnees ventilees selon le sexe commencent a alimenter les efforts de prevention en sante au travail. Malgre ces progres, certains defis techniques, ideologiques et politiques dem...
Article
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Unlabelled: In Québec, Canada, cleaning tasks were once divided into 'light' or 'heavy' cleaning, assigned respectively to women and men. These categories are being merged; in principle, both genders are assigned the same tasks. Activity analysis using observations and interviews examined work activity of male and female cleaners in two hospitals....
Article
A wild-type strain of Metarhizium anisopliae (Metsch.) Sorokin, an imperfect fungus, killed 76% of Culex pipiens pipiens larvae within five days after spore administration. A spontaneous mutant strain was selected whose LD50 was less than half that of the wild type, and whose LT50 was one day faster. This mutant also showed early, dense sporulation...
Article
In an attempt to demonstrate the existence of a parasexual cycle in the imperfect entomopathogenic fungus, Metarhizium anisopliae (Metschnikoff) Sorokin, doubly- and triply-marked strains were forced to form heterokaryons. All heterokaryons produced diploid spores, two of which yielded putative recombinants.
Article
All stages of the parasexual cycle required for genetic analysis by haploidization have been demonstrated for Metarhizium anisopliae Metsch. (Sor). Heterokaryons have been synthesized from strains carrying complementing markers, and heterozygotic diploid colonies have been isolated from the heterokaryons. After exposure to benlate or botran, diploi...
Article
Diploid strains of the imperfect entomopathogen Metarhizium anisopliae were obtained by forced matings of complementary auxotrophic and spore-colour marked mutants. Genetic analysis of diploid and haploid mitotic recombinants suggests the existence of two metabolic pathways for spore pigmentation biosynthesis in Metarhizium anisopliae. Ten markers...
Article
Objective: Workers' attempts to accommodate family needs may be considered illegitimate in the paid work sphere. Their attempts at work-family balancing (WFB) in that sphere can remain invisible, even when those attempts require considerable energy. Since identification of WFB strategies can potentially lead to suggestions to improve management pr...
Article
Unlabelled: Québec teachers have been identified as having a high level of stress and having difficulties with work-family balancing (WFB). An analysis of their work activity was done to identify task elements that could be changed. Participants: Work of 15 teachers was observed and 20 other teachers were interviewed. Methods: Ergonomic analys...
Article
Few Canadian data sources allow the examination of disparities by ethnicity, language, or immigrant status in occupational exposures or health outcomes. However, it is possible to document the mechanisms that can create disparities, such as the over-representation of population groups in high-risk jobs. We evaluated, in the Montréal context, the re...
Article
« To Be a waitress, you’d better have all your brains » : effort and rewards in food service in Québec Food service work is poorly documented in the scientific literature on occupational health and safety. Work was analysed following a union request whose aim was to secure greater respect for the profession. Work demands are described, as well as t...
Article
This paper examined how musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) of female homemakers were studied in the literature. It also presented preliminary findings from field observations of housework and fulltime homemakers in urban settings. PubMed, Ergonomics Abstracts, Sociofile, and PsycINFO databases were used in the literature search. The review focused on...
Article
In 2007, a Filipina organization in Quebec (PINAY) sought the help of university researchers to document the workplace health and safety experiences of domestic workers. Together, they surveyed 150 domestic workers and produced a report that generated interest from community groups, policy-makers, and the media. In this article, we-the university r...
Article
Full-text available
A relationship between low back pain (LBP) and prolonged standing or prolonged sitting at work has not been clearly shown, despite its biological plausibility. Because sitting and standing postures vary as to duration and freedom to alternate postures, and standing postures vary as to mobility, associations between specific working postures and LBP...
Chapter
All research, as historian E. P. Thompson (1978) said long ago, is a dialogue between theory and evidence. Like geographer David Harvey (2006: 79), we understand theory ‘as an evolving structure of argument sensitive to encounters with the complex ways in which social processes are materially embedded in the web of life’. In this chapter, we seek t...
Article
Full-text available
Several studies have reported male-female differences in the prevalence of symptoms of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), some arising from workplace exposure differences. The objective of this paper was to compare two strategies analyzing a single dataset for the relationships between risk factors and MSD in a population-based sample wi...
Article
Full-text available
The increasing use of radioactive material in research laboratories has generated new risks for laboratory workers. In universities, new students arrive constantly, posing a specific problem for radiation-protection. Using methods derived from ergonomic studies, we analysed the conditions of use of radioactive substances in four different laborator...
Article
Women’s Health At Work And Professional Equality Are They Compatible? L’Invisible qui fait mal [The Invisible That Hurts] is a partnership between three trade unions and an academic research center. The research helps to highlight the contradiction between women’s desire to improve their health and to reach professional equality. This text relates...
Article
L'Invisible qui fait mal [The Invisible That Hurts] is a partnership between three trade unions and an academic research center. The research helps to highlight the contradiction between women's desire to improve their health and to reach professional equality. This text relates four situations where women could hesitate to identify a health proble...
Article
North American workers usually stand while working, and prolonged standing is associated with discomfort and cardiovascular problems. Moving may alleviate the problems, but optimum mobility is unknown. The effects of variations in mobility were explored among (1) 34 health care workers whose symptoms of orthostatic intolerance (OI) were recorded af...
Article
Work-related musculoskeletal health damage causes pain and suffering, and can lead to disability. To prevent it, it is important to detect not only diagnosed musculoskeletal disorders but also early signs of impending damage. Workers have important information on workplace risks and health damage, and should be involved in the process of identifyin...
Article
Pre-employment strength testing in its present form supports employment practices which exclude women from manual handling tasks traditionally assigned to men. However, several lines of reasoning lead us to think that pre-employment testing is a Procrustean bed which imposes unreasonable requirements on most women. Examination of some tests and the...