Brock Associate Professor honoured for achievements in scholarship

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Brock University associate professor Kendra Coulter has been named the 2017 recipient of Brock’s Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence. Coulter, who was honoured with the award due to her outstanding contributions to her field, has conducted research on topics like ‘humane jobs’, a concept she’s coined, as well as gender wage gap and retail research, and the working conditions of animal cruelty investigators throughout her career.

The award recognizes the excellent scholarship of Brock University’s faculty members and is only available for Brock tenured, or tenure-track faculty. Recipients of the Chair can take a three-year program of research leading to a significant development in their scholarship. Additionally, each is awarded one public lecture on their research to the Brock community.

This is not the first time Coulter has received honours for her research. Earlier this September she was elected to be a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s (RSC) College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, a national system of multidisciplinary recognition for the emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership. Coulter is one of 70 scholars chosen by chosen by their peers for this position.

Coulter also received the Canadian Association for Work and Labour Studies 2015 Book Prize for her book Revolutionizing Retail: Workers, Political Action, and Social Change.

Coulter’s research is centralized around this idea of humane jobs — a concept that delves into jobs for humans and animals that have ethical and environmental benefits, moving away from damaging practices towards more sustainable, positive ones. This concept, and its research, attempt to show potential benefits, of good jobs for humans and animals.

Her research on humane jobs also highlights how we think about our relationship with other species, reshaping our understanding of human-animal relations.

Coulter has also research on animal cruelty investigation work in Ontario, the first study of its kind. Her research found that enforcement officers with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) were under-equipped for their jobs, especially in comparison with their police service counterparts.

The report, titled “Difference Makers: Understanding and Improving the OSPCA’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Work” was written by Coulter and a co-author Amy Fitzgerald, a criminologist at the University of Windsor. Using focus groups and surveys, they were able to collect data from cruelty investigators across Ontario each year.

Additionally, Coulter has also released a report on the a gender wage gap in retail in April of 2016. The research, specific to Ontario, revealed that men are paid more than women in every occupational category within the retail sector a statistic that is particularly jarring as the retail sector is made up predominantly of women.

The April report was devised by Coulter, Angella MacEwan, an economist at the Canadian Labour Congress, and Sheetal Rawal, a lawyer with expertise on the subject of pay equity issues, the gathering of data funded by a grant from the Ontario Pay Equity Commission.

Some of the findings concluded that 65 per cent of retail workers who are paid $12 or less are women and male cashiers over the age of 55 earn an average of $18.73 while women within the same age bracket earn $12.69. Not only is the difference in wage disparaging, but 59 per cent of male salespeople are employed full-time while only 38 per cent of women salespeople are employed full time as well as the fact that men outnumber women manager positions -—the position that pays the most — while women greatly outnumber men in sales, cashier, and supervisor positions.

In addition to her research, Coulter is also a strong supporter and advocate for student scholarship, creating an academic award called the Promise Prize for Top Achievement in the Study of Animals at Work funded by the royalties she gets from her book Animals, Work, and the Promise of of Interspecies Solidarity. She also has humane jobs fellowships available for talented graduate students.

As for the award, Coulter hopes to continue growing her expertise on the subject of human-equine labour through conducting a project on horses and care work.

Some of her work on the gender wage gap can be found on her website revolutioningretail.org.

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