Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Women, Work & Coping: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Workplace Stress // Review

Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

Women, Work & Coping: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Workplace Stress // Review

Article excerpt

The literature on job stress and ways of coping has been concerned primarily with men's experiences. Women's experiences of stress and coping have remained relatively unexplored. The rapid rate of social change in women's employment points to the importance of examining the broad individual and social contexts in which women encounter stress in the workplace.

Bonita Long and Sharon Kahn, in this collection of 14 articles, bring together perspectives from psychology, sociology, management and women's studies on women's ways of coping with work stress and the social cultural context of women's work lives. Three central themes emerge from the discussion presented in this book: women's working lives and their health; methodological and theoretical issues; and, women's coping resources, strategies and stress mediators.

In line with the findings of other studies on women and work, the authors reiterate that the growing number of women in the labour force are both concentrated in certain types of occupations and occupy a subordinate position in the technical division of labour. Women do not have equal representation in the decision-making process which affects their working lives and well being. Moreover, working women continue to have multiple responsibilities that negatively affects their health and limits their coping strategies. Greenglass suggests that the issue of coping for women cannot be separated from their interpersonal relations and family lives. In "Asymmetric Changes in Men and Women's roles," Barbara Gutek convincingly argues that employed women who combine roles as spouse, mother and worker face a variety of stressors. In general, when compared to men, women are confronted with more and different work-related stressors due to gender inequalities in work and family roles.

Women, Work and Coping draws our attention to methodological and theoretical problems that researchers face in identifying factors which influence the relationships among employment, stress and coping. Alison Tom is critical that the study of women's work has been dominated by oppositional models of data collection and interpretation. She questions the dichotomization of women's lives into public and private realms which presents women as willing participants in the creation of their own powerlessness. Korabik and others, in their research on coping and social support among women managers, argue that methodological problems plague this area of research. …

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