Academic journal article Advancing Women in Leadership

Women, Organizational Development, and the New Science of Happiness

Academic journal article Advancing Women in Leadership

Women, Organizational Development, and the New Science of Happiness

Article excerpt

Women, Organizational Development, and the New Science of Happiness

Do people need a lot of money or wealth to be happy? Some social scientists say no. Once people get beyond having their basic needs met, making more money does little to raise the sense of satisfaction (Diener & Seligman, 2002). What, then, makes people happy? According to a new science of happiness, authentic happiness centers on conditions that enable people to flourish in their lives (Seligman, 2003). When asked what conditions brought them the greatest source of happiness, more than 900 women said their greatest sense of happiness came from their children, religious or spiritual life, family connections and friendships, contributing to the lives of others, and leisure and holiday time (Diener & Seligman, 2002). Further, research reported in the Miller, Caldwell, and Lawson (2000), the Sloane Business Review (1991), and by the Business Women's Network (2002) reveals that many professional working women, if given the option, would choose flextime, spending time with family, and helping others over making more money. Other studies show women want friendly and supportive work environments and are, therefore, working with organizational leaders to achieve them. In fact, a recent article, The Opt-Out Revolution, reports that because the corporate world has not enabled conditions that help women flourish, many are unhappy and many others are leaving the traditional corporate world altogether (Belkin, 2003). Thus, while some studies suggest that women are leaving the workplace only for reasons such as maternity leaves or day care problems, this paper suggests that although "motherhood" is very important to women, it is not just about this. Social scientists such as Gallos (1989), Ehrenreich (1995), and Hall (1986) say this trend is more about conditions that impede women's satisfaction with the workplace. Therefore, this study seeks to know more about the conditions which can impede or enhance women's happiness in the workplace.

Theoretical Perspectives

Work is just one of many key areas that make up the lives of women. Issues such as family, friendship, community, and religion/spirituality are also vitally important. In fact, recent research shows that women are most happy when they are able to balance their energy and effort - emotional, intellectual, imaginative, spiritual, and physical - between these areas (Halpin, 2005). At the same time, if any one of these areas are neglected, this can reduce the amount of happiness women experience in both their work and personal life. Thus, striking a balance between their work and personal life is of utmost importance to women at the turn of this new century.

To examine the theoretical debate surrounding the questions about women's happiness in the workplace, this paper reviewed the literature related to women's issues in the workplace (i.e., corporate organizations, educational institutions, and law firms). The framework for this review is guided by questions about conditions that can impede women's happiness or help it flourish in the workplace. The review also looks at the perceptions of women of color, Caucasian women, and international women as they relate to the three conditions.

What "Conditions" Impede or Enhance Women's Happiness in the Workplace?

A review of the literature revealed three salient conditions which can hinder or enhance the success and well-being of women in the workplace: Work-Life Balance (or Quality of Work-Life), Job Satisfaction, and Spirituality-at-Work. An understanding of why these three conditions are important to women's happiness or unhappiness in the workplace can be gleaned from studies associated with the rapidly growing field of academics called the new science of happiness (Diener, 2004; Seligman, 1998) and traditional studies in organizational development and women's developmental theories in the workplace.

Though some scholars may think that the term happiness is too "slippery" to be studied scientifically, Seligman (2005) argues it is not only scientifically measurable but useful in building one's personal and professional life. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.