Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Geoffrey Nelson

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


In this study I examined women's caring in community volunteer work in the context of a neighbourhood community centre. More specifically I studied what women's volunteer experience at the Chandler-Mowat Community Centre (CMCC) revealed about: (1) Motivators what motivated women to participate in community volunteer work, (2) Facilitators what personal, family organizational, community and social factors facilitated women's involvement in volunteer work, (3) Barriers what personal, family, organizational, community and social factors inhibited women's involvement in community volunteer work, (4) Positive and Negative Impacts what the positive and negative impacts of women's volunteer involvement on the women themselves, their families, organizations, community and on social factors, and (5) Strategies what ideas and suggestions did women have to improve Community Centre development. Drawing on community psychology and feminist methodologies this study considered the experiences of 26 women and three staff who live and work in the Chandler-Mowat neighbourhood. Telephone interviews, face-to-face interviews and focus groups were held with volunteers and non-volunteers who reside in the neighbourhood as well as with staff who work closely with the Chandler-Mowat Community Centre. The research process that I used was sensitive to the overall context of women’s lives and was based on an ecological perspective, as women’s participation in community volunteer work has multi-level interactions: the personal, the family, the organization, the community and social factors. Although the research process was sensitive to the ecological perspective, the results indicate that not all levels were considered by volunteers, non-volunteers and staff of the CMCC. The results obtained from this study might shed some light on the ways in which women volunteers and the CMCC can attain a balance between these levels. The data gathered also provide information on the reasons or motivators women have for volunteering. The caring expectations of women and their own sense of obligation to this role were identified as some of the prime motivators for their participation in volunteer work. Facilitators and inhibitors of volunteer work were also discovered and strategies by participants to help create change in Chandler-Mowat Neighbourhood. Like other feminist critics on women's role in society, I suggest that caring work, unpaid labour and providing service to others has become a predictable and common dimension of women's lives, that reinforces traditional notions of femininity. Although women provide an invaluable service to our communities, there are strong indications that women's role in unpaid labour continues to remain unrecognized. At the same time I also look at the positive outcomes that women's volunteering has on their personal lives, their families, organizations, and the community.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season