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Jessica Polzer

MA , PhD


Associate Professor - Women's Studies and Feminist Research and Health Sciences

Office: Lawson Hall 3237
Phone: 519-661-2111 ext. 81576


My program of research focuses on the politics of women's health in the 21st century, with a specific focus on the intersection of discourses on gender, health risk, and biotechnology. My current research projects include a critical discourse analysis of public media accounts of the HPV vaccine in English-speaking Canadian newspapers and health information materials. My doctoral research explored how women with family histories of breast cancer experience their risks for breast cancer, and how these experiences are shaped by the process of predictive genetic testing. I have extensive experience designing and conducting qualitative health research, and my dissertation was awarded the Illinois Distinguished Qualitative Dissertation Award by the International Center for Qualitative Inquiry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2006.


Journal Articles

  • McDonough, P. and Polzer, J. (forthcoming). Habitus, hysteresis and organizational change in the public sector, Canadian Journal of Sociology.

  • Polzer, J. & Knabe, S. (2012). From desire to disease: Human papillomavirus (HPV) and the medicalization of nascent female sexuality. Special issue of the Journal of Sex Research on the Medicalization of Sex, 49(4), 344-352.

  • Polzer, J. (2010). Caring for the self, caring for others: the politics and ethics of genetic risk for breast cancer, Canadian Woman Studies, 28 (2-3, Spring/Summer), S71-76. Special issue on Women and Cancer.

  • Mancuso, F. & Polzer, J. (2010). "It's your body but...": Young women's narratives of declining human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, Canadian Woman Studies, 28 (2-3, Spring/Summer), 77-81. Special issue on Women and Cancer.

  • Polzer, J. & Robertson, A. (2010). Seeing and knowing in 21st century genomic medicine: The clinical pedigree as epistemological tool and hybrid risk technique, New Genetics & Society, 29(2), 133-147.

  • MacEachen, E., Polzer, J., & Clarke, J. (2008). "You are free to set your own hours": Governing worker productivity and health through flexibility and resilience, Social Science & Medicine, 66, 1019-1033.

  • Breslin, C., Polzer, J., MacEachen, E., Shannon, H., & Morrongiello, B. (2007). Workplace injury or "part of the job"? Towards a gendered understanding of injuries and complaints among young workers, Social Science & Medicine, 64, 782-93.

  • Polzer, J., Mercer, S., Goel, V. (2002). "Blood is thicker than water": Genetic testing as citizenship through familial obligation and the management of risk, Critical Public Health, 12(2), 1-16.

Chapters in Books

  • Polzer, J. & Robertson, A. (2007). From familial disease to "genetic risk". Harnessing women's labour in the (co)production of scientific knowledge about breast cancer. In Hannah-Moffat, K. and O'Malley P. (Eds), Gendered Risks, London: Glasshouse Press, pp. 31-53.

  • Polzer, J. (2005). Choice as responsibility: Genetic testing as citizenship through familial obligation and the management of risk. In Bunton, R. and Petersen, A. (Eds), Genetic Governance: Health, Risk and Ethics in the Biotech Era, London: Taylor and Francis, pp. 79-92.

Invited Journal Articles

  • Polzer, J. & Knabe, S. (2009). Good girls do... get vaccinated: HPV, mass marketing and moral dilemmas for sexually active young women. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 63(11), 869-870.

Published Workshop Proceedings

  • Polzer, J. (2000). Genetic testing, citizenship and subjectivity: Implications for women and health. In The Gender of Genetic Futures: The Canadian Biotechnology Strategy, Women and Health. Proceedings of a National Workshop held at York University, Toronto, Ontario, February 11-12, 2000.
    Available electronically at:

Department of Women's Studies and Feminist Research - Western University
Lawson Hall Room 3260
London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5B8
Tel: 519.661.3759
Fax: 519.661.3491

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