By Ogova Ondego
Published March 3, 2017
Changes in the economy, education and family status worldwide are propelling more women into the work force outside the home. This would have been a positive development were it not for the fact that whether they work outside the home or not, they retain primary responsibility for the household and child care. As they try to balance their multiple roles they are left drained and frustrated.
“Not only are women more likely to work in the labour force today than in the past, “ notes a report by a US organisation, Women Research and Education Institute (WREI), “but those in the work force also spend more time at work than women did in earlier years.”
Saying the modern woman belongs to the ‘tired class’, WREI says women who are married and have higher incomes are more likely to cope better with the situation.
A study done by Duke University says that employed mothers produce far higher levels of stress hormones than childless women. These stress hormones rise each morning and remain high until bed time. This puts working women at higher risk than other women for health problems such as heart disease. Stress levels are as high for one child as with several.
Working mothers, according to WREI, report being bothered by health problems like insomnia, headaches, stomach upsets, or feeling nervous and stressed more than working fathers. They also feel less confident about handling personal problems. Single mothers, mothers with younger children and those who have missed more work for child-related reasons report higher levels of stress than others. The report also reveals that women whose earnings account for a larger share of household income also report more stress.
Working mothers are more stressed, more burned out by their jobs and less satisfied with themselves as parents. But they are more satisfied with their overall ability to handle problems when they have higher household incomes, are married, and they receive more help around the house from their husbands. They also fair better if their employers allow more flexibility in work scheduling.
If women have more flexible time and leave options on the job, if their jobs are more secure, and if they perceive more opportunities for women to advance on the career ladder, they are less stressed. More support from supervisors and a more supportive work place culture too, are associated with less pressure. WREI stresses: “If more husbands pulled their weight at home, the ability of working mothers to balance the demands of work and family would surely improve, and marital satisfaction might increase as well.”
WREI concludes that working mothers may benefit from changes in work place which:
• increase access to flexible time and leave benefits
• allow for greater job autonomy and control over work schedules and providing greater job security, and
• ensure all employees –irrespective of gender—equal opportunity for job advancement, foster a more family-friendly workforce culture and encourage superiors to be more supportive of their employees with respect to both job-related and personal or family matters.