Veteran teacher forges ahead as a top international scholar
Consultation regarding legislation on standard working hours has aroused keen discussions in Hong Kong. Among the intense debate between its pros and cons on diverse social factors, one of the key advantages lies on the possibility of reducing family and social problems through better work-life balance. In 2006, the HKSAR Government implemented five-day work week, and encouraged local organisations to support so as to maintain quality work-life of employees. Such harmonious arrangement was partly based on the “Research on Family-friendly Employment Policies and Practices (FEPPs) in Hong Kong” commissioned by the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Women’s Commission. Prof Siu Oi-ling, Professor and Head of Lingnan University’s Department of Applied Psychology who paid her abundant efforts as the research’s Principal Investigator, has recently been regarded as one of the top 25 work-family scholars in the world.
Prof Siu joined Lingnan University in 1986 thus completing 31 years of service in Lingnan family. She obtained her PhD in organisational psychology from The University of Liverpool in the UK. With strong research profile, she received four General Research Fund (GRF) grants with three as the Principal Investigator capacity in the areas of occupational health psychology. Prof Siu received her first grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Council (OSHC) in 1998/99 to conduct an international study on stress among managers, with a total of four grants from OSHC.
Extending from her academic and consultancy work in occupational stress, Prof Siu further developed deep interest in the work-family area in the midst of her research studies. “Work-family conflict is one of the common job stressors,” she explained how she developed an interest in work-family topics. Since then, she has been engaged in research projects with two renowned scholars including Prof Sir Cary L Cooper and Prof Paul E Spector. They jointly published the paper “A Cross-National Comparative Study of Work/ Family Pressure, Working Hours, and Well-Being: China and Latin America vs. the Anglo World” in Personnel Psychology in 2004, which was listed as the Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research in 2005, rated top 20 out of 2,500 articles on the topic that year.
In addition to research collaboration with well-known international scholars, Prof Siu possesses extensive experience in consultancy works. Given her expertise in applied psychology, she has been serving as the Editor of International Journal of Stress Management and the Associate Editor of Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, coordinating the two publications under the American Psychological Association since January 2015.
Apart from a cornucopia of research contributions, Prof Siu is dedicated to enriching students not only with theories in books but also an important awareness in healthy lifestyle. “Through my two courses on ‘Industrial and Organisational Psychology’ and ‘Stress Management, Health and Life Balance’, I hope to guide them on achieving a balanced life comprised of mental, physical and social health,” she said, always regarding her students’ well-being as the top priority of education. “Students have to write reflective journals to share with me on how they transform theories into real-life practices,” added Prof Siu.
Talking about future endeavours, Prof Siu introduced her newly granted research study by OSHC. “In this 15-month project, we will use both qualitative and quantitative approaches to investigate occupational stress and its social and economic implications in Hong Kong,” she explained. Invited by Renmin University of China, she will also conduct a similar project in Beijing as an academic collaboration and exchange. To compare the trends in Hong Kong and Beijing, a re-analysis on the data collected is in the pipeline as well. “In future, I will investigate more on the relationship between work-family interface and workplace safety,” said Prof Siu.