Working Women and Stress

Gender-specific work stress factors, such as sex discrimination and balancing work and family demands, may have an effect on women workers above and beyond the impact of general job stressors such as job overload and skill under-utilization.

Discriminatory barriers to financial and career advancement have been linked to more frequent physical and psychological symptoms and more frequent visits to the doctor.

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The most effective way of reducing work stress is through organizational change in the workplace. This holds true for reducing work stress in female and male workers alike. Workplaces that actively discourage sexual discrimination and harassment, and promote family-friendly policies, appear to foster worker loyalty and attachment regardless of gender, studies indicate. Organizational changes effective for reducing job stress among women workers include expanding promotion and career ladders, introducing family-support programs and policies, and enforcing policies against sex discrimination and sexual harassment.

2.28 The article “Women in Construction: Occupational Health and Working Conditions,” finds that:

Women may receive less on-the-job safety mentoring than men from supervisors and co-workers. This can create a potentially dangerous cycle in which tradeswomen are asked to do jobs for which they are not properly trained, then are injured when they do them or are seen as incompetent when they are unable to do them.

Women in construction have reported harassment and verbal abuse by co-workers and isolation on the job severe enough that some women have looked for other employment.

Patterns of work-related construction fatalities differ for men and women. For example, women construction laborers are at higher risk than male laborers of death from motor vehicle injuries, but less likely to be at risk of death from falls, machinery related injuries, or being struck by objects. Further research is needed to determine why these differences exist.( (14)

2.29 In one study relating to MSDs, NIOSH worked with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to examine interventions for reducing discomfort among IRS data entry workers, the majority of whom are female. NIOSH found that periodic rest breaks throughout the work shift reduced musculoskeletal discomfort, while allowing workers to maintain job performance. (15)

2.30 According to NIOSH ,Stress at work is another issue of concern., stress at work is a growing problem for all workers, including women. In one survey, 60 percent of employed women cited stress as their number one problem at work. Furthermore, levels of stress-related illness are nearly twice as high for women as for men.

Many job conditions contribute to stress among women, according to NIOSH. Such job conditions include heavy workload demands; little control over work; role ambiguity and conflict; job insecurity; poor relationships with coworkers and supervisors; and work that is narrow, repetitive, and monotonous. (16)

-2.31 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine(2005) show

Health care expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress.

2.32 Encyclopaedia of Occupational Safety and Health (2001) with title
Job Stress and Health:
What the Research Tells Us;
2.32.1Cardiovascular Disease

Many studies suggest that psychologically demanding jobs that allow employees little control over the work process increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

2.32.2Musculoskeletal Disorders

On the basis of research by NIOSH and many other organizations, it is widely believed that job stress increases the risk for development of back and upper- extremity musculoskeletal disorders.

2.32.3Psychological Disorders

Several studies suggest that differences in rates of mental health problems (such as depression and burnout) for various occupations are due partly to differences in job stress levels. (Economic and lifestyle differences between occupations may also contribute to some of these problems.)

2.32.4Workplace Injury

Although more study is needed, there is a growing concern that stressful working conditions interfere with safe work practices and set the stage for injuries at work.

2.32.5Suicide, Cancer, Ulcers, and Impaired Immune Function

Some studies suggest a relationship between stressful working conditions and these health problems. However, more research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn-

2.33 NIOSH(2001) research has identified organizational characteristics with title Stress, Health, and Productivity

Some employers assume that stressful working conditions are a necessary evil-that companies must turn up the pressure on workers and set aside health concerns to remain productive and profitable in today’s economy. But research findings challenge this belief. Studies show that stressful working conditions are actually associated with increased absenteeism, tardiness, and intentions by workers to quit their jobs-all of which have a negative effect on the bottom line.

Recent studies of so-called healthy organizations suggest that policies benefiting worker health also benefit the bottom line. A healthy organization is defined as one that has low rates of illness, injury, and disability in its workforce and is also competitive in the marketplace. NIOSH research has identified organizational characteristics associated with both healthy, low-stress work and high levels of productivity. Examples of these characteristics include the following:

Recognition of employees for good work performance

Opportunities for career development

An organizational culture that values the individual worker

Management actions that are consistent with organizational values(19)

2.34 St. Paul Fire and Marin(2007) Insurance Company conducted several studies on the effects of stress prevention programs in hospital settings.(Journal of Applied Psychology) one with title

Stress Prevention and Job Performance

Program activities included (1) employee and management education on job stress, (2) changes in hospital policies and procedures to reduce organizational sources of stress, and (3) establishment of employee assistance programs.

2.34.1 In one study, the frequency of medication errors declined by 50% after prevention activities were implemented in a 700-bed hospital. In a second study, there was a 70% reduction in malpractice claims in 22 hospitals that implemented stress prevention activities. In contrast, there was no reduction in claims in a matched group of 22 hospitals that did not implement stress prevention activities.

2.35 According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics(2004), workers who must take time off work because of stress, anxiety, or a related disorder will be off the job for about 20 days.

2.36 Northwestern National Life Insurance(1992), Minneapolis, 1992,

as reported in Work in America, Vol. 17, No. 6, June 1992.] Employee burnout: Causes and cures, Part 1: Employee stress levels,


In a survey carried out in 1992 of nearly 1,300 full-time employees in a random sample of private companies in the United States, it was found that gender, among other factors (the level of the employee in the organization, income, occupation and family situation), accounted for differences in job stress at the workplace.

The survey found that stress affects women more than men, and that they are significantly more likely to report burnout, stress-related illnesses or a desire to resign from their jobs. The researchers suggested several reasons for this. In the first place, women are often paid less than men for their work, even if they have college degrees. Many organizations also lack policies which respond to family issues.

Single women with children, along with low-paid college graduates, are at highest risk of burnout. Some 50 per cent of single women with children reported burnout, compared to 31 per cent of married women with children.

2.37 European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2001)reported these figures in Research on work-related stress,

The following are recent estimates which related to the cost of work-related stress:

In the United Kingdom, it has been suggested that over 40 million working days are lost each year due to stress-related disorders;

In Australia, the Federal Assistant Minister for Industrial relations estimated the cost of occupational stress to be around A$30 million in 1994;

In the United States, over half of the 550 million working days lost each year due to absenteeism are stress-related.

2.38 Several recent studies by ILO(2004) have highlighted the links between work-related stress, violence at work, the abuse of drugs and alcohol and tobacco consumption. These studies tend to suggest that stress at work plays an important role in the development of negative individual and organizational factors and forms a common element linking working conditions, substance abuse and violent acts. There appears to be a significant correlation between difficulties in relaxing after work and negative emotions such as fear, helplessness and failure. Stressful work may contribute to the development of a desire among workers to reduce tension by drinking, using drugs and other harmful substances.

Alienating work has negative consequences for the development of a healthy human personality and can result in a range of problematic behaviours at the individual level, which may include the destructive use of alcohol and other substances, as well as depression and a deterioration in normal affective life. Stressful conditions may also constitute an antecedent to an episode of workplace violence. (ILO) (http//

$2.39 University of utara(2004), Malaysia, school of accounting, Report on job stress among professional accountants working in selected public firms, a Malaysia case, replicates and extends earlier studies on job stress in public accounting conducted in UK and Britain. It is done through an extensive review of literature on job stress and field study using the same questionnaire utilized in the earlier two studies with a little modification to suit Malaysian context.

The study seeks answers to what may be the sources of stress. Psychological outcomes and moderators of the stressful situation in selected public accounting firms and whether there exist significant linear relationship between job stressors and mental strains. Further more, it attempts to find out whether different from sizes, functional areas and position levels differ significantly in the stressors confronted and strains experienced by public accountants.

The finding indicates that stressors faced by most respondents are quantitative workload, variations in workload, responsibilities for persons and travel, very few reports confronting role conflict and role ambiguity. As for the mental strains, respondent do not show that they are experiencing any except for job and workload dissatisfactions and pay inequity. It is also found that more than 10 percent of the respondents feel that they have job autonomy and that they do not possess the type A personality traits. (24)

2.40 A research report in Saudi Medical Journal , (2003) titled “Job satisfaction and organizational
commitment for nurses”

found that nurses in public

hospitals are slightly satisfied and committed to their

hospitals. Besides, satisfied nurses tend to have a higher

degree of commitment than less satisfied ones.

2.41 A report in journal of health(2003) with title “stress and suicide in nurses” revealed that the relation between stress and suicide remained U shaped.when the job stress and home stress are combined,five fold increase in risk of suicide among women occurs.risk of suicide among high stress women is more compare to low stress experience by women.

2.42 School of Health Science (2002), Blekinge Institute of Technology Karlskrona, Sweden entitled

“The stress experience of nursing staff in intensive care therapy, concludes” that stress contains amongst other the element of moral there is shortage of nurses in the health care and organisational structure too impede nursing performance to avoid the negative consequences of stress for nurses moral support is required. In ICU stress and complex situation are common for all nurses, the stress implication are sometime ethical issues, morbidity and burn out, the report revealed.

2.43 Queensland University of Technology(2002), thesis with the title


IN PUBLIC HOSPITAL NURSES” states that Australian nurses reported low to moderate levels of work stress, moderate levels of work support and moderately high levels of burnout.

Work stressors, were the main predictors of Emotional Exhaustion, Conflic.

Changes in the objective conditions at work have had major implications for

nurses’ subjective experiences of work, with increasing numbers of nurses feeling

stressed and as a consequence, are opting to work part-time or leave the profession


A strong negative relationship was found between clinical leadership, inter-professional collaboration, and stress and job satisfaction. Although a positive relationship between clinical leadership and nurses’ job satisfaction was found, the association between clinical leadership and quality of inter-professional collaboration is unclear. The association between these variables and job satisfaction is positive but tenuous. In addition, a positive but weak relationship was revealed between the clinical leadership and the quality of relationships amongst nurses. Organisational issues, lack of nursing staff and patient care were found to be related to ward type mental health nurses’ stress emerged as mediating variables between stress and job satisfaction. A hypothetical model of the relationships between these variables is presented for testing at a future study.

2.45 A research study by Deptt of medicine (2006). University of Ottawa, enitiled, “prevalence of burnout, job stress and job satisfaction”

The findings are that medical personnel are experiencing burnout and high levels of stress and that large numbers are considering leaving or decreasing their work hours. This is an important finding for the cancer care system, where highly trained and experienced health care workers are already in short supply.

2.46 A research paper, School of Health Care Practice 2006, Anglia Polytechnic University, Chelmsford, Essex(2009), UK, entitled “Workplace stress in nursing: a literature review,finds”

. Workload, management style, professional conflict and emotional

cost of caring and leadership style, lack of reward and shift working are the main sources of stress for nurses for many years. Stress management programe should concentrate on stress prevention as well as how organization should takle this vital issue.

2.47 The Graduate College University of Wisconsin-Stout(2005), a Research Paper with title

The Weiman Occupational Stress Scale, introduced in

1978, is designed to measure perceived levels of occupational stress. The mental health

counselors involved in completing the survey instruments scored an average of 2.57 on a

five point scale, with past administrations of the Weiman Occupational Stress Scale

having yielded a baseline score of 2.25. The mental health counselors in this study scored

on average 13% higher than the calculated WOSS baseline.

employees in publicly

funded institutions (Winnebago Mental Health) experience greater perceived work stress

than those counselors in privately funded clinics.

2.48 Research survey conducted by Carol Brewer(2000) has shown that new nurses face considerable professional stress and would benefit from improved nursing management

Newly licensed nurses considered their jobs difficult, and they worked long hours: 51 percent worked voluntary overtime, 13 percent mandatory overtime. Sixty-one percent were assigned to nights, evenings or rotating shifts. Nearly two-thirds — 62.78 percent — said their work interfered with family life on at least four days a month, according to the results.

Survey participants also reported a somewhat hazardous working environment: a quarter of respondents sustained at least one needle-stick in a year; 39 percent at least one strain or sprain; 21 percent a cut or laceration, 46 percent a bruise or contusion, and 62 percent reported experiencing verbal abuse on the job. A quarter found it “difficult or impossible” to do their jobs at least once a week due to inadequate supplies, the study showed.

2.49 An Exploration study of Job Stressors of

Clinical Nursing Instructors in Taiwan(2001) found that clinical nursing instructors’ work-related stressors include inadequate role occupancy, increasing work demands, deficient role preparedness, lowered role control, insufficient role support, and role bargain. When a clinical instructor with lowered role control experiences more stressors, the situation of role stress will deteriorate. Role support and role bargain are the buffers of work-related stress to adapt clinical instructors for the rapidly changing educational and medical environment. Consequently, adequate role credibility for role occupancy is a necessary strategy for reducing clinical instructors’ work-related strain during organizational rapid change.

2.50 European Journal(2005) of Social Sciences ,article entitled “Link between Job Stress and Job Satisfaction”,Show that there is a significant negative relationship

between job stress and job satisfaction.

According to Stamps &

Piedmonte (1986) job satisfaction has been found significant relationship with job stress. One study of

general practitioners in England identified four job stressors that were predictive of job dissatisfaction

(Cooper, et al., 1989). In other study, Vinokur-Kaplan (1991) stated that organization factors such as

workload and working condition were negatively related with job satisfaction. Fletcher & Payne (1980)

identified that a lack of satisfaction can be a source of stress, while high satisfaction can alleviate the

effects of stress. This study reveals that, both of job stress and job satisfaction were found to be interrelated.

The study of Landsbergis (1988) and Terry et al. (1993) showed that high levels of work stress

are associated with low levels of job satisfaction. Moreover, Cummins (1990) have emphasized that

job stressors are predictive of job dissatisfaction and greater propensity to leave the organization.

Sheena et al. (2005) studied in UK found that there are some occupations that are reporting worse than

average scores on each of the factors such as physical health, psychological well-being, and job

satisfaction. The relationship between variables can be very important to academician. If a definite link

exists between two variables, it could be possible for a academician to provide intervention in order to

increase the level of one of the variables in hope that the intervention will also improve the other

variable as well (Koslowsky, et al., 1995).

2.51 A Study of Job Stress and Job Satisfaction among University

Staff in Malaysia a research article(2007) investigates the relationship between job stress and job satisfaction. Inverse relationship exist between job stress and job satisfaction The determinants of job stress that have been examined under this study include, management role, relationship with others, workload pressure, homework interface, role ambiguity, and role conflict.

2.5 Faculty of Education(2001),University of Ibadan, article, Effects of Job Stress ,states that stress has negative effect on health, physical and mental,work behaviour,and performance,satisfavtion level.

2.53 Heavy workloads, difficult students and lack of resources are stressing out Australian teachers(1999). Many also experience stress from increasing violence and bullying. In one recent year, 274 teachers in Victoria were either assaulted or threatened by students and another 70 were attacked by colleagues. Over the past five years , 910 teachers in Victoria and 1150 teachers in New South Wales have filed worker compensation claims for anxiety,depression,nervous breakdown and other stress related symptom.

Union leaders say these figures are just the tip of the iceberg: Teacher are very reluctant to proceed with those claims because it just adds another problem and additional stress, explains Australian education union president John Gregory

Teaching in Australia may be stressful, but the profession seems to be under siege in the Uk , Janice Howell a primary school teacher in Newport (South Wales)is one of the casualties. She initially had the assistance of an English language teacher but that teacher took long-term leave with no replacement. Unable to cope with 28 kids, 11 of them with learning or behavioral difficulties, Howell had a nervous breakdown.

After recovering several months later, Howell complained to the school about the intolerable stress. Rather than providing support, the school added two more troubled kids to Howells class. One student, new to Wales, ran away one morning and was seen playing near dangerous mudflats. Although he was taken home safely, no one told Howell until the end of the day. This led to Howells second breakdown, ending her career.

From being a confident, well adjusted teacher who enjoyed her job I became depressed and dysfunctional, says Howell for the first time in my life I did not want to go to work. It got to the stage that I was physically unable to enter the classroom.(DD)

2.54 Nebuo Miuro (1999) quoted in the book about stress that employees are under a lot of pressure from his employer to get a new restaurant ready for its launch. The interiors fitter from Tokyo worked late, sometimes until 4.30 in the morning. After one such marathon, Miuro caught a few hour sleep, then return for another long day. But he didn’t get very far. The 47 year old suddenly took ill and keeled over while picking up his hammer and nails. He died a week later. The corners verdict was that Miuro died of Karoshi_death by overwork.

Karoshi accounts for nearly 10000 deaths each year in Japan. Research indicates that long work hours cause an unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking, poor eating habits, lack of physical exercise and sleeplessness. This result in weight gain, which, along with stressful working conditions, damages the cardiovascular system and leads to strokes and heart attacks.

Karoshi came to the public spotlight in the 1970s when Japans economy was booming, but the country’s current recession is making matters worse.companies are laying off employees and loading the extra work onto those who remain. Performance based expectations are replacing life qtime employment guarantees, putting further pressure on employees to work long hours. Many also blame Japans samurai spirit culture which idolizes long work hours as the ultimate symbol of company loyalty and personal fortitude. Being exhausted is considered a virtue explains a Japanese psychiatrist.

So far, only 17 percent of Japanese companies offer over stressed employees some form of counseling. However the Japanese Government has launched an advertising campaign encouraging people to call a Karoshi hotline for anonymous help. The families of deceased workaholics , including Nobuo Mauro’s relatives are also taking action by suing the employers for lack of due care.(dd)

2.55 A report (2001) entitled “Job Stress and Burnout Among Canadian Managers and Nurses”: examined the relationship of job stress with burnout and its three dimensions (emotional exhaustion, lack of accomplishment and depersonalization), job satisfaction, organizational commitment and psychosomatic, health problems. Job stress was significantly correlated with overall burnout and its three dimensions and job satisfaction in both samples. In the nursing sample, job stress was also significantly correlated with psychosomatic health problems and organizational commitment. Moderated multiple regressions only marginally supported the role of gender as a moderator of stress-burnout relationship.

2.56An articl (2001) on “Occupational stress experienced by male and female employees”
indicate that there are statistically significant differences in the stress levels of employees based on their gender. With females experiences more stress then male. And physical conditions are considered as a most stressful factor for females. Male experiences less stress with physical conditions. Women were found to experience more stress then male. They are more affected by physical conditions such as noise, lightning etc

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2.57 Journal of Managerial Psychology(2006), report on “Occupational stress in different organizations” , a Saudi Arabian survey(2006) The main source of stress for employees working in private organizations is the lack of knowledge about their performance evaluation results, while this is not the case for employees working in public organizations; Saudi employees have the highest levels of stress, with Arabs second, Asians third, while Westerners (Europeans and North Americans) registered the lowest levels of stress; employees who are less than 30 years old experience the highest levels of stress; employees with six-to-ten years of experience show the highest levels of stress; and there is a significant inverse relationship between educational level and stress level.

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2.58 An article on “Occupational stress and depression in Korean employees” (2001).

Inadequate social support and discomfort in occupational climate is a better predictorof depressive symptoms than organizational injustice in Korea, indicates that the newlydeveloped KOSS has cultural relevance for assessing occupational stress in Korea.

2.59 Department of Psychology & Applied Psychology research study(2008) University of the Punjab, OCCUPATIONAL STRESS AND JOB PERFORMANCE, indicated Workload, co-workers and repetitive work are identified as the major factors causing stress. It is concluded that there is moderate level of stress with significant difference in different departments however affect of stress is found on job performance in the selected organization.

2.60 About “Occupational Stress and Employee Control ” (1992) Industrial psychologists discovered that how much latitude employees have at work – their control over job-related decisions – affects their health, their morale and their ability to handle their workload. Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham (1976) reportedthat control (in terms of job-provided autonomy) enhanced motivation and growth – in blue collar, white collar and professional positions. Then, in 1979, Robert Karasek(1979) found that workers whose jobs rated high in job demands yet low in employee control (as measured by latitude over decisions) reported significantly more exhaustion after work, trouble awakening in the morning, depression, nervousness, anxiety, and insomnia or disturbed sleep than other workers. When workers facing high demands had more control, their stress was lower. This major insight into how occupational stressors affect health and well-being has led to ongoing improvements in the workplace. For example, many organizations have implemented programs designed to enhance employee control.

2.61 Colegio Oficial de Psic.logos (2007) s ‘article “OCCUPATIONAL STRESS AND STATE OF HEALTH AMONG CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGISTS AND PSYCHIATRISTS” revealed that the stress among mental health professionals (staff and trainees). Results showed that psychiatrists experienced less stress than their colleagues, and suggest specific associations between situational stressors and state of health. In particular, frustration in carrying out their work is linked to high levels of self-reported symptoms in psychologists.

2.62 A reprt presented by European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs, European Union (2007) states that work-related stress affects at least 40 million workers in its 15 Member States and that it costs the European Union approx. 20 billion annually. It is now widely acknowledged that stress at work is a very common problem and that it has a very high cost in terms of workers’ health, absenteeism and lower performance. 26% of workers who reported an injury or illness felt that they suffered from stress while at work in the last 12 months, and that this percentage rises

2.63 A Report titled”Effects of Job Stress on Health, Personal and Work Behaviour

of Nurses in Public Hospitals” (2006), Department of Social Work, Faculty of Education,University of Ibadan, Nigeria,established that job stress has significant effect on physical and mental health of the nurses. It also established that there was a significant

difference in personal and work behaviour of highly stressed nurses and less stressed nurses. Based on these findings,it was recommended that the government (Federal or State) and Hospital Management Boards should improve the welfare of the nurses. It was also recommended that their morale should be boosted by involving them in policy or decision-making concerning their welfare or care of their patients. Their salary should be reviewed and that they should be promoted as at when due. Work-home interference among nurses: reciprocal relationships with job demands and healt. The higher nurses’ job demands, the higher is their level of work-home interference and the more likely is a general health deterioration over time, in turn giving rise to higher job demands and work-home interference, which may even aggravate the nurses’ general health, and so on.( Research study by University of Ibadan, Nigeria 2006)

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