British Women's Job Satisfaction Takes a Tumble

Management Services, Autumn 2005 | Go to article overview
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British Women's Job Satisfaction Takes a Tumble


Research based on around 25,000 British women employees shows that the average level of overall satisfaction with their jobs has been falling for 15 years.

Female workers used to have significantly higher levels of job satisfaction than men, but now they have almost the same level. Men's job satisfaction has remained constant over the period.

The results may be a sign of growing pressures on women in the workplace, as they compete increasingly with men for the better jobs, especially in the professions and management. Some commentators argue that women feel increasingly stressed at work, suffering a serious drop in general sense of wellbeing. But Professor Mike Rose from the University of Bath, who carried out the research for the Economic and Social Research Council rejected that explanation: "There's no sign of a general fall in psychological well-being among women employees since 1990. We have excellent data there, and they show absolutely no change over the period. In fact, our measures of general happiness show a slight upward trend.

"Being unhappy at work just isn't the same as being generally unhappy. You can be dissatisfied with a job without being an unhappy person".

Satisfaction among women who work part-time has fallen more dramatically than among the full-timers. Part-time female employees were once thought of as 'grateful slaves' in a pin-money underclass, happy to take low-grade jobs for poor pay and conditions.

"If women part-timers ever had such attitudes they certainly don't have them now", said Professor Rose.

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