Rhonda Breitkreuz, MA, PhD

Professor, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sci - Human Ecology Dept
Chair, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sci - Human Ecology Dept


Professor, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sci - Human Ecology Dept
330 Human Ecology Building
8905 - 116 St NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2N1

Chair, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sci - Human Ecology Dept


Area of Study / Keywords

maternal employment social policy gender equality women's economic empowerment


Origins of My Work

I have been at the U of A since 2007, first as an Assistant Director/Research Associate at the Community-University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth and Families (CUP), and then as a faculty member in the Department of Human Ecology, ALES, where I am a social policy scholar. Before I became an academic, I worked with disadvantaged populations in a range of positions: as a Support Worker for a home for homeless men (summers, 1985-1989); as a Probation Officer in two Northern First Nations communities (1990); and most notably as the Executive Director of Lurana Shelter, a shelter for abused women and children (1994-1999). After completing my PhD in 2005, I worked as the Senior Manager of Policy Research for the Alberta Ministry of Children’s Services where I co-chaired the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Social Research and Information Working Group with a federal government counterpart in Ottawa. 

Selected Awards

Great Supervisor Award. (2020). Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. University of Alberta. 

Inspirational Educator Award. (2019). Rhodes Trust. Oxford, England. Awarded to professors who have provided exceptional mentorship to Rhodes Scholars. 

Teacher of the Year. (2019; 2012; 2010). Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences. University of Alberta. 

Faculty Teaching Award. (2013). Faculty of ALES. Awarded to one faculty member per year for excellence in teaching. 

President’s Achievement Award. (2012; 2006). “Dare to Discover” – Learning, Discovery and Citizenship (staff category, team award). For contributions  to Student Engagement in the Faculty of ALES as Co-Coordinator  of ULead Leadership Program, 2012, and the Community-University Partnership, 2006. University of Alberta.


Focus of Scholarship

I lead the Gender, Family and Policy Research Initiative in the Department of Human Ecology. In all my research, I ask this broad question: under which circumstances, and to what extent, is the state responsible for the well-being of citizens? As a result, many of my research projects explore the relationship between individuals and the state, focusing particularly on the ways in which specific policies affect wellbeing, social equality, and access to resources for individuals and families. My past research focused on the impact of child care policy on family well-being and maternal employment. I have also done international work, exploring the impacts of social policy on marginalized citizens in developing countries. My previous research on the gendered nature of welfare-to-work, the work-family integration of those in marginalized employment, and child care policy has been published in leading inter-disciplinary social science journals, including Critical Social Policy, Community, Work & Family, Journal of Family Issues, and Development Policy Review. I currently have funding from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council and the Worldwide University Network to explore the economic empowerment of women in seven countries across the globe. 

Current research projects:

  1. Global Research Network on the Economic Empowerment of Women (ReNEW). (2020-present).  Principal Investigator: Rhonda Breitkreuz. (with 12 Co-Investigators).Sixteen academics from 7 universities in 6 countries are involved in this network to explore ways to improve women's economic outcomes in different contexts. Funding sources: the Worldwide University Network; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; University of Alberta (Canada); University of Sydney (Australia); University of Ghana (Ghana); UFMG (Brazil) and University College Dublin (Ireland). For more information, please see https://wun.ac.uk/wun/research/view/global-research-network-on-the-economic-empowerment-of-women-renew/
  2. Are mothers opting out? Exploring maternal employment in Alberta. (2019-2022). Principal Investigator: Rhonda Breitkreuz. This study examines the employment experiences of mothers in Alberta. Funding source: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
  3. Effects of Empowered World View on mindset, behaviour and child well-being outcomes. (2019-2023). PIs: Amy Kaler and Brent Swallow. Co-Investigators: Rhonda Breitkreuz and John Parkins. This study, currently being conducted in Tanzania, aims to explore if and how the World Vision program, Empowered World View, impacts child wellbeing. Funding source: World Vision International.


Graduate Student Supervision

  1. Laura Woodman, PhD. 2022-present. Child care. 
  2. Haneen Abraham, MSc (thesis). 2022-present. Maternal Employment.
  3. Madeline Robbenhaar, MSc (thesis).2022-present. Maternal Employment. 
  4. Vanessa Osei Bonsu, MSc (course-based). 2021-present. Women's Economic Empowerment. 
  5. Natalie Schmitt, MSc (course-based). 2020-present. Women and Policy. 
  6. Laura Cadrain, MSc (thesis). 2019-present. Present Day Decisions, Later-Life Precarity? Generational Continuity in Maternal Employment Trajectories
  7. Semhar Berhe, MSc (course-based). Completed 2021. Immigration and The Canadian Employment Experience: Canada’s Role in Integrating the Skilled Immigrant
  8. Kareema Batal, MSc (course-based). Completed 2021. Breaking the Barriers to Socially Conscious Business.
  9. Julia Roy, MSc (thesis). Completed, 2020. Program development and evaluation for families of children with disability.
  10. Laurel Sakaluk, PhD. Completed 2017. Work-family integration during the transition to parenthood: Longitudinal processes and ideological influences. 
  11. Rebecca Horne, MSc (thesis). Completed 2017 (Co-supervised with Matt Johnson). A Labour of Love? Male and Female Partners’ Emotion Work in Intimate Relationships. 
  12. Ropa Mamutse, MSc (course-based).Completed 2017. Aging out of the family. The experiences of youth aging out of youth services.
  13. Vanessa Ostapchuk. MSc (course-based).Completed 2016. Canadian Provincial Child Care Subsidies and their “Fit” within the Lives of Working Poor Families.
  14. Iryna Hurava MSc (thesis). Completed 2015. Institutional Child Care in Belarus.  
  15. Roxana Marin, MSc (course-based). Completed 2013. Cell phone use and parent-child relationships in families with adolescents. 
  16. Hannah Goa, MSc (thesis). Completed 2010. Outside the city walls: The construction of poverty in Alberta’s income and employment supports act.


HECOL 601 - Ways of Knowing in Human Ecology

Enquiry into the nature, scope and object of human ecology knowledge; the distinct contributions of various modes of inquiry; and the relationship between ways of knowing and selected issues related to the acquisition of knowledge, such as ethics and research methods.

HECOL 692 - Professional Seminar 2

This professional development seminar is one in a series that focuses on career development and professional issues in human ecology. Includes topics such as writing for academic and non-academic audiences and research ethics. Typically taken in the first year of the graduate program.

HECOL 694 - Professional Seminar 4

This professional development seminar is one in a series that focuses on career development and professional issues in human ecology. Includes topics such as funding agencies and preparing grant proposals, non-academic careers for PhDs, and post-doctoral fellowships. Typically taken in the second year of the doctoral program.

Browse more courses taught by Rhonda Breitkreuz

Scholarly Activities

Other - The Long Road Home Documentary Film, Writer & Director, Rhonda Breitkreuz, Executive Producer, Steven Brese

Adeline Froehlich and Ewald Breitkreuz were born in a German settlement in Volhynia, Russia (Vohynia became Polish territory in 1918, and is now part of Ukraine). In 1915, when Germany invaded the area, the Russian government required German-speaking citizens of Volhynia to leave their homes. The vast majority of them were sent to Siberia in freight trains. The first part of this film documents the journeys of Adeline and Ewald during this forced migration. The second part of the film discusses the day-to-day life of Adeline and Ewald and their nine children in Onoway, Alberta, as German-speaking immigrants from 1935 onwards.

World Premiere of Film


Child Support Policy in Canada: An Overview

Author(s): Roots, H. and Breitkreuz, R.
Publication Date: 12/1/2022
Publication: Edgar Elgar Publishing
Volume: Single Parents and Child Support Systems: An International Comparison. Kay Cook and Thomas Meysen (Eds).

The gold standard: Epistemologically, ecologically informed research

Author(s): Breitkreuz, Rhonda
Publication Date: 10/6/2022
Publication: Social Sciences and Humanities Open
Volume: 6
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 1-7
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssaho.2022.100345

It all comes out in the wash: Family policy, ideology, and the pathway to contemporary mothering

Author(s): Sakaluk, L., Breitkreuz, R., & Kushner, K.
Publication Date: 2/28/2022
Publication: Journal of Family Studies
Volume: 28
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 308-331
DOI: 10.1080/13229400.2019.1705875
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/13229400.2019.1705875

Producing the Patchwork: The Hidden Work of Mothers in Organizing Child Care

Author(s): Breitkreuz, R., Colen, K., & Horne, R.
Publication Date: 7/5/2021
Publication: Journal of Family Studies
Volume: 27
Issue: 3
Page Numbers: 436-459
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/13229400.2019.1635038

Child, Parent and Worker Vulnerabilities in Unregulated Child Care

Author(s): Goodall, Z., Cook, K., & Breitkreuz, R.
Publication Date: 3/10/2021
Publication: Social Policy and Society
Volume: 22
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 247-263
External Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1474746420000263.

Paying the price: Constrained choice and the consumption of unregulated child care in Alberta

Author(s): Colen, K., Breitkreuz, R.
Publication Date: 2020
Publication: Community, Work & Family
Volume: 23
Issue: 4
Page Numbers: 457-473
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/13668803.2019.1584088

Critical Policy Analysis: Using Focus Groups to Explore Social Policy in India.

Author(s): Breitkreuz, R. & Swallow, B.
Publication Date: 2019
Publication: Sage Research Methods Cases: Politics & International Relations.
External Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526478252

The Motherhood Sacrifice: Maternal Experiences of Child Care in the Canadian Context

Author(s): Horne, R., and Breitkreuz, R.
Publication Date: 2018
Publication: Journal of Family Studies
Volume: 24
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 126-145

Who Cares? Motivations for unregulated child care use.

Author(s): Breitkreuz, R. & Colen, K.
Publication Date: 2018
Publication: Journal of Family Issues
Volume: 39
Issue: 17
Page Numbers: 4066-4088
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X18806025

On shifting ground: First-time parents ideal support for integration of family and paid work

Author(s): Kushner, K., Sopcak, N., Breitkreuz, R., Pitre, N., Williamson, D., Rempel, G. Stuart, M., & Letourneau, N.
Publication Date: 2017
Publication: Community, Work, & Family
Volume: 20
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 119-141

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme: A Policy Solution to Rural Poverty in India?

Author(s): Breitkreuz, R., Stanton, C.J. Brady, M., Pattison, J., King, O., Chudhury. M., & Swallow. B
Publication Date: 2017
Publication: Development Policy Journal
Volume: 35
Issue: 3
Page Numbers: 397-417
External Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dpr.12220/full

The Framing of Australian child care policy problems and their solutions

Author(s): Cook, K., Corr, L., Breitkreuz, R.
Publication Date: 2017
Publication: Critical Social Policy
Volume: 37
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 42-63
External Link: DOI: 10.1177/0261018316653952.

Adults’ knowledge of child development in Alberta, Canada: Comparing the level of knowledge of adults in two samples in 2007 and 2013

Author(s): Botey, A. Vinturache, A., Bayrampour, H., Breitkreuz, R. Bukutu, C., Gibbard, B., & Tough, S.
Publication Date: 2017
Publication: Child Care in Practice
Volume: 23
Issue: 4
Page Numbers: 404-416
External Link: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/bRQYvYv53XzAtC6EZprT/full

Sustainable family care for children with disabilities

Author(s): McConnell, D., Breitkreuz, R., Savage, A., & Sobsey, R.
Publication Date: 2016
Publication: Journal of Child and Family Studies
Volume: 25
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 530-544

Resilience in families raising children with disabilities and behaviour problems

Author(s): McConnell, D., Savage, A., & Bretkreuz, R.
Publication Date: 2014
Publication: Research in Developmental Disabilities
Volume: 35
Issue: 4
Page Numbers: 833-848
External Link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0891422214000195

Rethinking resilience in families of children with disabilities: A social-ecological approach

Author(s): Breitkreuz, R., Wunderli, L., Savage, A. & McConnell, D.
Publication Date: 2014
Publication: Community, Work and Family
Volume: 17
Issue: 3
Page Numbers: 346-365

Theories from Family Science

Author(s): Jennings, J. Breitkreuz, R., & James. A.
Publication Date: 2014
Publication: The Sage Handbook of Family Business
Page Numbers: 25-46

Anticipating parenthood: Women’s and men’s meanings, expectations, and idea(l)s in Canada

Author(s): Kushner, K.E., Pitre, N., Williamson, D., Breitkreuz, R., & Rempel, G.
Publication Date: 2014
Publication: Marriage & Family Review
Volume: 50
Page Numbers: 1-34
External Link: doi/abs/10.1080/01494929.2013.834026#.Uzmf76hdXTA

Parent needs and family support service outcomes in a Canadian sample

Author(s): McConnell, D., Breitkreuz, R. & Savage, A.
Publication Date: 2013
Publication: Journal of Social Work
Volume: 13
Page Numbers: 447-470
External Link: http://jsw.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/02/08/1468017311434819

When family members are also business owners: Is entrepreneurship good for families?

Author(s): Jennings, J. Breitkreuz, R., & James. A.
Publication Date: 2013
Publication: Family Relations
Volume: 62
Page Numbers: 472-489
External Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/fare.12013/pdf

Independent evaluation of the Triple P Positive Parenting Program in family support service settings

Author(s): McConnell, D., Breitkreuz, R. & Savage, A.
Publication Date: 2012
Publication: Child & Family Social Work
Volume: 17
Page Numbers: 43-54
External Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2206.2011.00771.x/pdf

The Self-Sufficiency Trap: The Promise and Reality of Welfare-to-Work

Author(s): Breitkreuz, R. & Williamson, D.
Publication Date: 2012
Publication: Social Service Review
Volume: 86
Page Numbers: 660-689

Using theories of family to expand the scope of family business research

Author(s): James, A. Jennings, J. & Breitkreuz, R.
Publication Date: 2012
Publication: Family Business Review
Volume: 25
Page Numbers: 89-110

Interpreter-facilitated cross-language interviews: Explicating processes and assessing validity

Author(s): Williamson, D., Choi, J., Charchuk, M., Rempel, G., Pitre, N., Breitkreuz, R., & Kushner, K.
Publication Date: 2011
Publication: Qualitative Research
Volume: 11
Issue: 4
Page Numbers: 381-394
External Link: http://qrj.sagepub.com/content/11/4/381.full.pdf+html

Integrating Triple P into Existing Family Support Services: A Case Study on Program Implementation

Author(s): Breitkreuz, R., McConnell, D., Savage, A. & Hamilton, A.
Publication Date: 2011
Publication: Prevention Science
Volume: 12
Page Numbers: 411-422
External Link: http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/264/art%253A10.1007%252Fs11121-011-0233-6.pdf?auth66=1380924678_b55f9ee2c38c28bca9a2eec2026db97f&ext=.pdf

From financial hardship to child difficulties:Main and moderating effects of perceived social support

Author(s): McConnell, D., Breitkreuz, R. & Savage, A.
Publication Date: 2011
Publication: Child: Care, Health & Development
Volume: 37
Page Numbers: 679-691
External Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2214.2010.01185.x/pdf

Disintegrated policy: Welfare-to-work participants’ experiences of integrating paid work and unpaid family work

Author(s): Breitkreuz, R., Williamson, D, & Raine, K
Publication Date: 2010
Publication: Community, Work and Family
Volume: 13
Page Numbers: 43-68

Engendering citizenship? A critical-feminist analysis of welfare-to-work policies and the employment experiences of lone mothers

Author(s): Breitkreuz, R
Publication Date: 2005
Publication: Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare
Volume: 32
Page Numbers: 151-169