It is no surprise that women face a huge amount of stressors once they enter the workforce, but it increases even more once they take on the challenge of having a family. Balancing work and family life isn’t so simple.
It becomes an even bigger problem for women who are not working high-income positions and taking on these extra roles.
In past research, women who have worked managerial positions have stated that they felt “isolated at work, exhibited Type A behavior and experienced greater strain than men” (Burke 91). I think that every woman understands that we are different than men- we experience things differently and we handle things differently, including stress. Where men exert stress in a more aggressive manner, women are more discrete about it. This is not to say we do not get aggressive at times, but we tend to keep it bottled up inside most of the time.
The downfall of allowing our stressors to build up is in our health, specifically our mental health. This was suggested in Burke’s study who surveyed about 2500 working women in Ontario. He issued surveys that asked questions based on the extent to which women felt work demands cause stress at their place of work. These are things such as unpredictable demands. The women studied also answered questions based on harassment, job insecurity, physical demands, hazards, work-family conflict, etc.
The results suggested multiple things for different women. For example, women who worked in lower occupational positions indicated less satisfaction at work and poorer emotional and physical health (Burke 95). They also reported more negative work experiences, such as heightened job insecurity (Burke 95).
Women who reported more stressors said that they had higher levels of psychosomatic symptoms. This was also applicable for women who reported greater family-work conflict (Burke 95).
Overall, the study concluded that more emphasis needs to be put on understanding the stressors women face by working and balancing family life. Although women who work in high-stress, high-income positions have a history of allowing their health to fail first, women who work in low-income positions also find themselves stressed because they are concerned about how they are going to support themselves and their family.
So what should women do to handle these constant conflicts?
For one, making time for YOU is important. Take a yoga class, hang out with your girlfriends, have a movie night with your family- it’s the little things that count. Making time, even if it’s a couple hours on a Friday night, will impact how you attack your stressors. Knowing that you have some sort of down-time to look forward to will give you the motivation to get through all the responsibilities you have.
Besides, if you allow your health to fail, how are you going to do everything you want and desire?
Burke, R. J. (2002) Work stress and women’s health: Occupational status effects. Journal of Business Ethics, 37, 91-102.
Written by: Amanda Di Fonzo