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Diana C.  Parry - University of Waterloo. Waterloo, ON, CA

Diana C. Parry

Professor, Applied Health Sciences, Special Advisor to the President, Women's and Gender Issues | University of Waterloo

Waterloo, ON, CANADA

Dr. Diana C. Parry research explores the roles of leisure in women’s health and wellbeing through a feminist lens.


My research explores the roles of leisure in women’s health and wellbeing through a feminist lens. It is difficult to capture an understanding of health experiences solely through the documentation of physiological causes, psychological outcomes, and technological solutions, the focus of much research to date. Everyday life events and experiences also warrant attention. Consequently, my research directs attention away from the medicalization of women’s health issues. Instead, I focus on a more a holistic approach to women’s health including their emotional and social well-being. I have studied the roles of leisure in women’s experiences of menopause/mid-life, infertility, pregnancy/midwifery and dragon boat racing for breast cancer survivors. Most recently, I have studied women’s experiences in roller derby and women’s use of digital technology to consume sexually explicit material such as pornography and erotica.
In conjunction with my research profile, I also serve as the special adviser to the President of the University of Waterloo on Women’s and Gender issues. As special advisor, I liaise with senior administration, faculty, staff, and students to advise on policy and structural level gender equity issues, and to help foster a supportive environment in which female students, staff, and faculty can maximize their career opportunities. Some accomplishments in this regard include establishing a gender and equity lecture series, the development of a refrigerator rental program for breastfeeding women on campus, facilitating a collaborative research project on gendered violence, initiating a female centric hackathon, and promoting a sense of community around gender equity through three campus-wide events: (1) Take Back the Night, (2) December 6 memorial, and (3) International Women’s Day.
Most recently in my role as special advisor, I successfully facilitated Waterloo’s involvement in the United Nations Women’s HeForShe campaign and 10x10x10 initiative. The HeForShe campaign is a global effort to engage boys and men in addressing gender equity. On May 5, HeForShe launched the IMPACT 10x10x10 framework that involves 10 Heads of State, 10 CEOs, and 10 University Presidents to advance gender equity. As the only Canadian institution selected to be part of this global initiative, Waterloo will have a special opportunity to lead our National efforts to address gender equity:

Industry Expertise (2)



Areas of Expertise (5)

Women's Leisure


Leisure Health and Well-Being

Qualitative Inquiry

Feminist Theory

Education (3)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Ph.D., Leisure Studies 2003

University of Waterloo: M.A., Recreation and Leisure Studies 1998

Brock University: B.R.L.S., Recreation and Leisure Studies 1996

Media Appearances (9)

Consider how to prevent sexual assault

Toronto Star  online


In the early 1990s when I was an undergraduate student, I took a university course on human sexuality. One class out of the 12-week semester stood out: the class on sexual assault...

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Take gender-based violence seriously and commit to change

Waterloo Region Record  


A commentary on the need for feminist values to combat gender-based violence.

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UW announcing new gender equity research grants

CBC Radio  radio

Announced the new gender equity research grants at the University of Waterloo.

University of Waterloo joins United Nations HeForShe campaign

CBC Radio  radio


Announced the commitments made by the University of Waterloo to the UN Women's HeForShe and IMPACT 10x10x10 campaign.

Women are consuming more pornography

Beat Breakfast  radio


Reported on research findings that suggest that women are consuming more pornography.

Family Day a day of work, not leisure, for many women

Waterloo Region Record  print


Exposes the burden placed on women by Family Day.

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The Abortion Debate in Canada

Talk Local Waterloo Region  tv


Critical discussion on the abortion debate.

Postpartum depression and online social networking

Talk Local Guelph  tv


Discussion of the role that online social networking plays in postpartum depression.

Motherhood and social networking sites

CTV News Kitchener  radio


Discussion of the role that social networking plays in the lives of mothers.

Event Appearances (5)

Mapping the journey: Cancer narratives and the need for navigation

Fourth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry: Official program, panel abstracts, and general information  Champaign, IL., 2009

Dragon boat racing for breast cancer survivors: Leisure as a context for spiritual outcomes

Twelfth Canadian Congress on Leisure Research  Montreal, QC., 2008

Gilda’s Club as a third place in the everyday lives of people living with cancer

Twelfth Canadian Congress on Leisure Research  Montreal, QC., 2008

Gilda's Club of Greater Toronto as a therapeutic landscape for people living with cancer: The juxtaposition of built environment, social relations, and belief

The World Leisure Research Association  Quebec City, QC., 2008

Women’s leisure as a site for resistance to gendered ideologies: The politics of leisure

Tactics of Resistance  London, ON., 2007

Articles (10)

“Skankalicious”: Erotic Capital in Women's Flat Track Roller Derby

Leisure Sciences

2016 Erotic capital refers to the use of sexuality for personal gain and has been theorized as a particular source of power (some) women can leverage to advance their interests (Hakim, 2011). With its overt sexuality, women's roller derby provides an ideal ...

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Fifty shades of complexity: Exploring technologically mediated leisure and women's sexuality

Journal of Leisure Research

2014 The purpose of this paper is to provide a conceptual argument for why leisure researchers, and feminist leisure scholars in particular, should examine how a technology enhanced form of leisure, namely reading sexually explicit material, can liberate or ...

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Leisure research for social justice: A response to Henderson

Leisure Sciences

2013 Leisure research based on critical theories is an effective path to social justice for groups and communities that are marginalized or oppressed by those in power. In response to Henderson (2011), who frames our work as postpositivist, we argue critical theories are a ...

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From "Stroller-Stalker" to "Momancer" Courting Friends through a Social Networking Site for Mothers

Journal of Leisure Research

2013 The purpose of this study was to explore the roles of an online social networking site (SNS) called Momstown. ca in the development of peer support Interviews with 22 members of Momstown. ca demonstrated that women experience a sense of isolation for a ...

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Feminist leisure research in the contemporary era

Journal of Leisure Research

2013 Feminist research within leisure studies is at a critical juncture. As the formative scholars of feminist leisure research retire, the authors have recognized the need to reflect upon their significant conceptual and empirical contributions. At the same time, they look ...

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My Transformative Desires: Enacting Feminist Social Justice Leisure Research

Leisure Sciences

2014 Many feminist scholars avow social justice as the ultimate goal of their research, but the process remains poorly conceptualized. With this in mind, the purpose of this article is to use feminist leisure scholarship to provide insight into the ways that I see myself...

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Living With Cancer? Come As You Are

Qualitative Inquiry

2011 This performance text explores how people “craft liveable truths” after a cancer diagnosis. Interviews with 26 members of Gilda’s Club, a meeting place for people whose lives have been touched by cancer, serve as the data source for the study. Weaving together...

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Dragon boat racing for breast cancer survivors: Leisure as a context for spiritual outcomes


2009 The purpose of this study was to explore the interplay among leisure, spirituality, and health within the context of dragon boat racing for breast cancer survivors. Active interviews with 11 participants revealed a number of spiritual outcomes...

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The Contribution of Dragon Boat Racing to Women's Health and Breast Cancer Survivorship

Add this article to my list Cited 7 Downloaded 72 Qualitative Health Research

2008 Survivorship is one of the least studied and thus least understood aspects of a breast cancer experience. Defined as a life-long, dynamic process, survivorship begins when people have completed medical treatment for breast cancer, yet...

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“We Wanted a Birth Experience, not a Medical Experience”: Exploring Canadian Women's Use of Midwifery

Health Care for Women International

2008 In this study I explore Canadian women’s use of midwifery to examine whether their choice represents a resistance to the medicalization of pregnancy/childbirth. Through my analysis of the data I identified eight ways the women’s deliberate decision...

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