Academic journal article Pakistan Economic and Social Review

Measuring Perceptions of Work Environment among Educated Female Public Servants in Pakistan

Academic journal article Pakistan Economic and Social Review

Measuring Perceptions of Work Environment among Educated Female Public Servants in Pakistan

Article excerpt


Abstract. This paper provides empirical evidence on the extent to which the work environment of public sector organizations of Pakistan is sensitive to women's needs. Perception of Work Environment Index (PWEI) has been developed to measure satisfaction of female public servants with the opportunities, facilities and inter-relationships for smooth career advancement given their special needs and requirements. The data were collected by administering PWEI through face-to-face interviews with 300 women belonging to administrative, health and education sectors. Results show that while the work environment may not be openly hostile, women employees were dissatisfied with arrangements to accommodate their personal and family needs. Significant differences were found in perceptions of women belonging to different categories of public sector organizations. Unmarried females working on contract were more satisfied with the working conditions than married women on permanent posts.


Working conditions in public sector organizations are often considered more amenable to women's needs relative to the private sector. These include better maternity leave benefits, shorter working hours, more job security, less stressful work etc. (Okun et al., 2007). Even so, while conditions for women may be somewhat better than the private sector, many times special amenities needed by women, such as on-site daycare and transport, may be inadequate. The problem is aggravated if the interpersonal relationships between the female staff and their colleagues are not completely congenial or if attitude of supervisors is inflexible in terms of helping workers to reconcile professional and domestic duties (Cook, 2009).

As traditional gender roles dictate that females perform all chores related to household and dependent care without any help from the male family members, women undertake paid employment at the peril of carrying triple burden of professional, domestic and reproductive work (Moser, 1989). Conflict arising out of performance of divergent roles can affect a worker's mental and physical health (Repetti, 1987), limiting her ability to perform her duties efficiently especially when her work environment is not supportive of her needs (Siddiqui, 2007). In particular working women who are married and those who have young children are at risk of facing job-burnout and employment disruptions. Among such women perceptions of family-friendly organizational environment can lower absenteeism, reduce intention to turnover, increase job satisfaction, improve affective commitment and enhance job involvement (Cook, 2009).

Besides these positive employee outcomes, perceptions of a desirable work environment for female employees help in gender mainstreaming.1 Advantages of gender mainstreaming for an organization include more gender diversity2 which in turn improves competitiveness in acquisition of a skilled workforce and increases the organization's internal capacity and ability to manage change. Also, work attitudes of male and female employees are better in gender-balanced work environments than in environments where gender parity is skewed in either direction (Appold et al., 1998). Inability to deal with gender diversity issues can produce many negative consequences for an organization such as:

* Losing competent female employees and having to sustain high cost to recruit and train their replacements;

* Creating a reputation that the organization is not a good place to work;

* An organizational climate in which effort digresses away from work performance toward politics of how to attain justice; and

* Inability of the management to create a good rapport with female employees (Ospina, 2001).

Yet despite all the potential benefits of gender mainstreaming, initial cost of change may be quite high. As organizations import masculine and feminine role dichotomies from the society in which they function, an ideal worker is perceived as someone willing to put work commitments above all other activities in life (Ely and Myreson, 2000). …

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