Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Conflicting Worlds of Working Women: Findings of an Exploratory Study

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Conflicting Worlds of Working Women: Findings of an Exploratory Study

Article excerpt

Role Expectations

There are contradictory role expectations from working women while she is at work and at home. On professional front she is expected to be committed, dynamic, competitive, straight forward, non-sentimental and act in a "business like" manner and at home, she is expected to be sweet, soft, sensitive, adaptable, gentle, unassertive and domesticated (Misra 1998). As an ideal woman she wants to fulfill the duties of a faithful wife, a sacrificing mother, obedient and respectful daughter in-law and an efficient and highly placed career woman. These contradictory expectations cause the most confusion, tension and create many other problems for her. A woman employee finds it difficult to do justice to the two roles at the same time. An attempt to play one of the roles with perfection leads to an inadvertent sacrifice of the other.

Women assuming multiple roles results in work family conflict because time and energy are shared, clubbed and even extended across the two spheres of activity. When a housewife enters into gainful employment outside home she not only finds a change in her role and status within the family and outside it, but she also finds herself under increasing pressure to reconcile the dual burden of the two roles at her home and her workplace because each is a full time job. Coping up with the situation requires not only additional physical strength, personal ability and intelligence on the part of a working woman but also requires the members of her 'role set' to simultaneously make necessary modifications in their expectations. When conflict between the two life domains occurs the consequences are reflected in both organization and domestic life. For the employers such role conflict means disillusionment, dissatisfaction and strained relations with women employees, their lower standard of work performance and disregard of organizational goals. Since society is not separate from organizations, the negative impact of role conflict will have its effects on the society in general in the form of lower standards of performance, lower quality of goods and services and a growing feeling of interpersonal conflict being the obvious results. There is therefore, a growing recognition by policymakers of the importance of supporting women in juggling work and family life (Evandrou et al. 2002).

In order to help dual-career women to manage the demands of both work and family, it is necessary to explore the origins and correlates of work stressors and workfamily conflict, and to try to find a support system at the level of the family, workplace, community and government for resolving it. Although most of these issues have been well documented by the western researchers (Hardy & Adnett 2002, Mackey & McKenna 2002, Rapaport & Rapaport 1980, Seto et al 2004) far less is done in India. The present study attempts to study the nature, extent and sources of work-family conflict of dual- career women, assess the impact of role conflict on work and domestic performances of working women, identify the variables that interfere with their work-life balance, and suggest ways and means for striking out a balance between the domestic and professional roles.

Material & Methods

The study has been carried out in Kashmir valley among women working in different white-collar situations, belonging to various social, economic, cultural, demographic and professional groups and categories. White-collar working women were selected mainly because they exhibit a strong favour for white collar jobs in view of their physical suitability, easy performance and less time consumption. The respondents were selected from educational institutions, media organizations, banks, government offices and hospitals because of the high concentration of women workers in these occupational groups. A total of 250 participants responded to the survey but only 200 of the questionnaires were analyzed; others were either not filled properly or only partially completed. …

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