LITERATURE REVIEW OF THE CONSTRAINTS, PROBLEMS AND STRESSORS EXPERIENCED BY WORKING WOMEN

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CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW OF THE CONSTRAINTS, PROBLEMS AND STRESSORS EXPERIENCED BY WORKING WOMEN

INTRODUCTION

The literature review is a crucial part of any research project. According to Mouton (2001:86), a literature review is aimed at finding out what has already been done in a specific field of study. Moreover, a literature review is regarded as a ‘process of indicating where a particular report or research fits into the context of the general body of scientific knowledge. To ensure that the research questions are unique and will add value to a body of knowledge, the researcher has to find out what has been written in the specific field and discover what has been found empirically’ (Babbie, 2005:457).
In this chapter, the constraints to the advancement of women, and in particular the problems and stressors that working women in professional and management careers in South Africa experience, are examined. A multi-facetted approach was followed to describe the constraints, problems and stressors that working women may experience. Frone, Russell and Cooper (1995) emphasize the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach in identifying the possible constraints, problems and stressors facing a population. Drawing on an extensive review of research on women’s occupational stress, Davidson and Fielden (1999) point out the need to investigate all potential problems – the psychological, sociological and physiological forces that can have an impact on people. Davidson and Fielden (1999) also highlight the need to consider sources of stress both inside and outside of the organisation which can affect the behaviour, the performance and the mental and physical health of women at work.
As noted in Chapter 1, women outnumber men in the population. In spite of this, women continue to trail men in almost all indices of development. After reviewing the global scene, Mathur-Helm (2005:57) has commented scathingly that ‘women worldwide are still holding secondary positions, are under-utilised in the labour market and are still a wasted resource’. South Africa is no exception. There are many reasons, as many authors have noted, a decade after the Beijing Conference of 1995, where South Africa signed a declaration on gender and development, committing itself to increasing women’s participation in decision-making to 30% by 2005 (April, Dreyer & Blass, 2007; Bowen, Cattell & Distiller, 2008; Mathur-Helm, 2005, 2006; Mello & Phago, 2007; Moorosi, 2007; Morrison, 2005; Stone & Coetzee, 2005; Whitehead & Kotze, 2003). In this chapter, these reasons are discussed in six broad categories, namely, cultural and societal constraints, the labour market and labour policies, and financial, organisational and individual reasons. It should be noted that these categories are inter-related and interact to present formidable barriers to women’s progress in society and to hamper women’s well-being in the workplace.

CULTURAL AND SOCIETAL CONSTRAINTS

Philosophies about and attitudes to women

Social role theorists (for example, Eagly, 1987) argue that the society and the culture into which women and men are born and socialised leave indelible traits which define gender roles. Jones and Montenegro (1982:8) contend that gender roles are transferred from generation to generation via accumulated acculturation and socialisation and are the foundation of gender stereotypes. A stereotype, as defined by Morrison (1992:24), is ‘a relatively rigid and oversimplified conception of a group of people in which all individuals in the group are labelled with the so-called group characteristics’. Gender stereotyping applies to both men and women. For example, women are generally thought to be emotional, dependent and less assertive than their male counterparts, who are portrayed as independent, assertive and rational (Zulu, 2003). Stereotypes extend to the jobs people do: according to Brown and Jordanova (1982), women today are stereotypically identified with the so-called caring professions of teaching, nursing and social work.
Gender denotes those characteristics, attributes, behaviours and activities considered by society to be appropriate for men and women (Zulu, 2003). According to Zulu (2003), young girls and boys are taught at an early age to value what society perceives as female and male characteristics, maintaining that this kind of socialisation pattern leads girls and boys to believe, for instance, that being modest, submissive, affectionate, nurturing, people-oriented and emotionally expressive are female characteristics, whereas being aggressive, assertive, independent, rational and task-oriented are male characteristics. Young girls grow up with the belief that displaying male characteristics is improper and the same applies to young boys who are discouraged from displaying what society classes as female characteristics. This attribution of roles and characteristics perceived as appropriate for a particular gender may be responsible for women’s failure to aspire to be leaders or the barriers they encounter when they attempt to enter management positions (Mathipa & Tsoka, 2001; Schein, 2007; Zulu, 2003).
Berthoin and Izrael (1993:63, cited in Schein, 2007) provide an overview of women in management world-wide. They argue that ‘probably the single most important hurdle for women in management in all industrialised countries is the persistent stereotype that associates management with being male’. According to Schein (2007), gender stereotyping of the managerial position fosters bias against women in managerial selection, placement, and promotion and training decisions. She found that gender stereotyping of the managerial position has persisted over the last thirty years, in spite of the progress made by women in management: ‘Despite all the societal, legal, and organizational changes that occurred in the USA over the last 30 years, male managers continue to perceive that successful managerial characteristics are more likely to be held by men in general than by women in general’ (Schein, 2007:8). The results of cross-cultural studies in Germany, the UK, China and Japan have also shown similar trends, from which Schein (2007) concludes that the similarity in strength of the male perceptions may reflect ‘intractable attitudinal barriers’. The South African situation is similar.

The South African situation

The mythical stereotypes attached to gender roles in society ensure that women in South Africa also remain secondary to men in leadership and management positions. According to Greyvenstein (1989:21), ‘there are particular problems in South Africa with regard to the traditional conflict of roles in women, whereby women are more traditionally set with regard to stereotype sex-roles. A deeply-rooted patriarchal outlook of the South African society backs up this’. Contemporary South African society has not yet reached the point of accepting that it is appropriate for women to be both homemakers and effective career women (Greyvenstein, 1989:19).
Although working women have increasingly moved away from the home into the wider spectrum of economic employment, including teaching, many have internalised the traditional stereotypes to such an extent that they suffer guilt and shame when they opt for self-determination or self-development beyond the realm of homemaker (Jones & Montenegro, 1982:8). This role conflict can lead to personal sanctions and a lack of ambition, poor self-image and inadequate confidence (Greyvenstein, 1989; Jones & Montenegro, 1982). Researchers in South Africa (Brink & De la Rey, 2001; Mclellan & Uys, 2009; Van Aarde & Mostert, 2008) have found that the conflicts women experience between their traditional roles as housewives, mothers and homemakers and their professional roles as managers and leaders are largely responsible for the strains and stresses which they experience.
The effect of the deeply entrenched stereotyped view of women remains at the core of modern society’s attitudes and philosophies about women (Brown & Jordanova, 1982:389) and are also instrumental in the creation of intrinsic and extrinsic barriers to the promotion of females and working mothers to management positions. The intrinsic barriers are discussed with the individual constraints (Section 2.6.1) and the extrinsic barriers addressed as part of the organisational constraints (Section 2.5.2).

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LABOUR MARKET AND LABOUR POLICY CONSTRAINTS

Over the years, South African women have faced discriminatory practices which are both politically and economically motivated. While it is true that women’s participation in labour has increased over the years (Van der Westhuizen et al., 2007), a range of practices in the labour market and in the workplace still persist that contain elements of discrimination and inequality and that subject women to inferior treatment. Among the problems facing women in the labour market are inadequate education and development, sector participation, gender segmentation, and unequal recruitment and employment practices.

Inadequate education

Barker (1995:63-65) notes that various inequalities that have manifested in the South African labour market amount to discrimination. These inequalities range from educational inequalities to occupational ones. According to Reskin and Padavic (2001:255), it is assumed that women are not advanced because of their lower levels of education, and that they lack the experience and training desired in people in top positions. As a result, women are often locked into jobs which offer less diversity of experience and have fewer opportunities for upward mobility. Contradicting these assumptions, Barker (1995:163) claims that the discrimination directed at women results from factors that are related to neither their education nor the labour market, for example, being female or black African. However, the South African Human Development Report (2003:19) reflects that, while important strides have been made towards overcoming past inequalities in the labour market, the distribution of jobs, occupations and income still correlates strongly with race, gender, age, disability and spatial factors.
In 2002, the labour absorption rate remained at 33.1% for women compared to 46.4% for men. According to Statistics South Africa (2003), the census of 2001 indicates that more women (48.1%) than men (35.8%) remain unemployed. A person’s level of education and training plays a vital role in shaping opportunities for powerful advancement in the workplace. In economic terms, education thus forms the first step towards successful self-employment and job creation for both men and women. The Graduate (1999:10) notes that ‘even though the labour market in SA has the ability to absorb new entrants the imbalances between skilled and unskilled labour blocks the opportunities for certain groups’. Gender segregation in education is still evident between men and women. Budlender (2002) shows that nearly 18% of black African women at the age of 25 years have no formal education, with only 6% of them having achieved a Grade 12, a diploma or tertiary education. This phenomenon can be attributed in part to the fact that historically, education for women has not been seen as a relevant benefit in society.
Educational opportunities for black African people were limited in the apartheid era, and the situation for women was particularly problematic. Some parents believed that education was not important for girls. Today, although more and more young women are now enrolling to study, they encounter a number of problems which range from sexual abuse and assault to career stereotyping. Some find it hard, if not impossible, to visit libraries and classrooms at night to study, because they fear being raped or subjected to other forms of violence. There is also a tendency to dismiss pregnant girls from school (Budlender, 1998b:16). Nonetheless, Education Statistics (2008:30) notes that women students are in the majority at universities in South Africa. In 2008, women made up 56.4% of the total student body at South African universities. This indicates that there is a gradual expansion of the number of women who are acquiring professional qualifications that will perhaps take them to managerial levels.

Dedication 
Declaration 
Acknowledgements 
Summary 
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 
1.1 BACKGROUND
1.2 RESEARCH AIM AND OBJECTIVES
1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.4 THE RESEARCH SCOPE AND DELIMITATION
1.5 OUTLINE OF THE STUDY
1.6 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW OF THE CONSTRAINTS, PROBLEMS AND STRESSORS EXPERIENCED BY WORKING WOMEN
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 CULTURAL AND SOCIETAL CONSTRAINTS
2.3 LABOUR MARKET AND LABOUR POLICY CONSTRAINTS
2.4 FINANCIAL CONSTRAINTS
2.5 ORGANISATIONAL CONSTRAINTS
2.6 INDIVIDUAL CONSTRAINTS
2.7 OTHER RESTRICTIONS AND STRESSORS
2.8 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 3: LITERATURE REVIEW OF THE ACTS,PROCEDURES, SYSTEMS AND PRACTICES THAT GOVERNMENT ,AND ORGANISATIONS USE TO SUPPORT WORKING WOMEN
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 LEGISLATION AND POLICIES SUPPORTING WORKING WOMEN IN SOUTH AFRICA
3.3 FORMAL STRUCTURES TO SUPPORT WORKING WOMEN IN SOUTH AFRICA
3.4 ORGANISATIONAL RESOURCES TO SUPPORT WORKING WOMEN
3.5 SUMMARY
3.6 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE RESEARCH APPROACHES
4.3 INQUIRY STRATEGY AND BROAD RESEARCH DESIGN
4.4 THE RESEARCH DESIGN
4.5 RESEARCH POPULATION AND SAMPLING STRATEGY
4.6 DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURES
4.7 DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION ON THE FINAL SAMPLE
4.8 MEASUREMENT INSTRUMENT
4.9 DATA ANALYSIS
4.10 CONCLUSION
HAPTER 5: RESULTS 
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 FACTOR ANALYSIS
5.3 FACTORIAL RELIABILITY
5.4 THE FACTOR STRUCTURE OF THE OVERALL STRESS INDEX
5.5 FACTOR STRUCTURE OF THE COPING BEHAVIOUR INDEX
5.6 EXPLORING THE DATA
5.7 RESULTS OF THE ASSOCIATIONAL STATISTICS
5.8 RESULTS OF THE ANALYSES OF VARIANCE
5.9 RESULTS OF THE LOGISTIC REGRESSION
5.10 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 6: SUMMARY, DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS 
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
6.3 RESEARCH DESIGN
6.4 SUMMARY OF RESULTS
6.5 DISCUSSION
6.6 LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH
6.7 RECOMMENDATIONS
6.8 CONCLUSION
REFERENCES 
APPENDICES
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