Jessica Borelli, Ph.D., on Work/Family Conflict, Gender Roles, and Intervention Research with Diverse Communities

Jessica Borelli, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychological Science at the University of California, Irvine.  She is a clinical psychologist specializing in the field of developmental psychopathology, and her research focuses on the links between close relationships, emotions, health, and development.

Today Dr. Borelli shares her own experience with balancing her family life and her ambition and drive as an academic.  Imagine the silence that would (and did) follow her announcement of “I want to be a mom,” when prompted to share her aspirations at a celebratory dinner among a group of academics. Yeah, that happened. Our discussion touches on the conflict with her herself and also the conflict that exists within academia regarding balancing work and family life.

Dr. Borelli shares about the complex dance between work and home and how her husband has supported her, helping her to discover who she truly wanted to be. She also talks about the importance of women scientists and the disadvantages they must embrace and overcome. We also cover how she addresses gender and work-family conflict with her students, particularly at the intersection of various identities.

Finally, we discuss the steps she took to develop a strong partnership with a community agency serving an underserved population. 

In this episode, you’ll learn…

  • The unique challenges of being a woman in academia
  • The influences of family on Dr. Borelli’s career and the clash between family and academia
  • About conducting research in a diverse community as a white woman
  • About the importance of investing in community and paying attention to community needs

Tips from the episode

On balancing work and family…

  • Know who you are and what you want from your career and family
  • Have confidence in your own ability to rise to challenges and achieve your goals
  •  Have courage to pursue opportunities despite messages that work and family are impossible to balance

On engaging with a diverse community…

  • Find out what the community needs and how best to implement intervention
  • Be open to input from the people you work with; do not try to impose your own agenda
  • Be invested in their needs and earn their respect and trust

Links from the episode:

Dr Jessica Borelli’s profile at UCI

UCI THRIVE Lab Collaborators/Community Partners

Latino Health Access

Her excellent advice for students thinking about graduate school in a mental health field

Research Matters Podcast is hosted by Jason Luoma, who can be found on Twitter @jasonluoma or Facebook at: You download the podcast through iTunesStitcher, or Spotify. Reach out with suggestions, questions, or comments to