Melissa Milkie, Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto

I am Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto and Chair of the Graduate department. My research is centered in the areas of gender, work, family, culture, and mental health. I approach research questions using social psychological perspectives — such as interactionist, life course, and stress process models.

A central aspect of my research focuses on family stressors such as parenting strains & work-family conflicts, and how these link to health and well-being. Some research centers specifically on gender and parenting, with studies on 1) how feelings about time spent with children and 2) how relationships with adult children — are linked to mothers’ versus fathers’ mental health, for example. A new grant assesses Syrian refugee mothers’ stressors and supports as their children enter the school system in Toronto.

A related strand of my work focuses on the meanings and experiences of family and family time, and how these have changed. Studies include those focused on, for example, children’s views of what makes mothers and fathers special, parents’ assessments of the division of child care, and adults’ views of their childhood experiences. Much of this work underscores how culture and social statuses like gender shape meanings about family experiences. Our award-winning book,  Changing Rhythms of American Family Life documents parents’ feelings about time and family life, and how mothers’ and fathers’ time with children and in housework, paid work and leisure has changed over recent decades. The research shows increases in married mothers’ and fathers’ time with children in primary activities and in “total time” with children. Other work examines how parents’ time with children relates to parents’ and to children’s well-being.

A third area of research focuses on cultural meanings, identities and frames related to social groups; including girls, African-Americans, feminists, mothers, and fathers. Recently published projects include trends in and meanings of 1) the “Mommy Wars” rhetoric in news media and 2) a) benefits of father involvement and b) blame for fathers’ low involvement with children, as depicted in Parents’ Magazine (1926-2006).

My work is published in Social Forces, Society and Mental HealthJournal of Marriage and Family, American Sociological Review, Social Psychology QuarterlyGender & Society and more. 

Courses I teach include the Sociology of Mental Health, Social Psychology and the Life Course.

Curriculum Vitae