The Road Less Travelled: Challenges Related to the Work-Family Balance of Women Managers in Higher Education

The Road Less Travelled: Challenges Related to the Work-Family Balance of Women Managers in Higher Education

S. P. Seema
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2819-8.ch017
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One of the most crucial factors affecting development in the 21st century is the increased participation of women in the economy of a country and increased entrance to managerial positions. Even though such tremendous changes have taken place, the patriarchal social set up insists on women's responsibilities towards family and children. The domestic roles of women are not shared by men despite the fact that women have shared the economic and social responsibilities of men. This causes conflict among work and family roles, which ultimately affects the physical and psychological well-being of women managers. This chapter deals with the problems and challenges faced by women managers in higher education in India and how family support and suitable coping strategies help them maintain work-family balance.
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Globalization has made the situations more favorable to women round the world as it imparted varied opportunities for women to go for higher education, to enter the labor force, to choose ‘paid work’ suitable for their qualifications and life situations and excel in them. The public sector has become adaptive, and inclusive of women as labor force, considering the hardworking and sincere approach of women towards jobs assigned to them. Statistics from different countries around the world also shows that when women control the household income of a family, either their own earnings or income from husband or other sources, the benefit to the family and children will be doubled, since the first priority of women will be the welfare of their children (UN Women, 2013).

The economic development of any country will improve only when the gap between the labor force participation of men and women reduces. Female work participation rate is invariably identified as an indicator of the status of women in any society. In the global sense, the last few decades have witnessed a considerable increase in the number of women entering into managerial positions, and this is especially true in the case of married women having children. The “dual role conflict” of women managers is one of the consequences of a many faceted discrimination and lack of egalitarian men women relations within families and at workplaces. Most of the studies conducted on the dual role conflict have found that women experience more work-family conflict than men (Frone, Russel, & Cooper, 1992; Williams & Alliger, 1994). In such a scenario, the situation of women managers is obviously more complicated, since they have to spend more time and energy at work and perform multiple roles both at the work place and at home. In a patriarchal society which follows a strict gender division of labor as part of the age-old culture where the sharing of family responsibilities is almost nil, married women managers often face higher role conflict than men managers while performing their personal and professional roles (Apperson, Schmidt, Moore, & Grunberg, 2002; Cortis & Cassar, 2005). Even in the 21st century, women abstain from the work field merely to perform their family responsibilities. But still there is hope, as opined by Wittenberg, Cox and Maitland (2008), the 20th century saw an increase in participation of women, and the 21st century will see the economic, political and social effects of this rise, as in US and UK where women occupy more than 50% of the professional and managerial positions.

The World Health Organization defines occupational or work-related stress as “the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope”. Integrating work and family responsibilities have become a serious problem in the present society at large and especially to women. An imbalance in these domains is termed as conflict and this occurs when the demand from one domain interfaces with the other (Blair, 2018). Most of the studies conducted on the dual role conflict have found that working women experience more work family conflict than working men (Lian &Tam, 2014).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Role Senders: Role senders are those who influence the work or family life of women, like supervisors, subordinates, husband, in-laws, children, relatives, etc.

Equal Parenting: Husband and wife equally sharing the responsibilities of raising, educating, protecting, and facilitating the development of a child from birth until adulthood.

Personal Well-Being: A good or comfortable state of physical and mental health, happiness and prosperity, emotional and psychological welfare. Here the individual will be well adjusted with self and others and satisfied with the life situations.

Work-Family Balance: The balanced allotment of time and effort between official duties and family duties in a way that the work front or home front does not suffer, and the woman feels happy and satisfied in fulfilling her responsibilities at both places.

Higher Education: The term Higher Education refers to the colleges and Universities where graduate and post graduate courses are being offered along with research programmes like M Phil, Ph. D and Post-Doctoral studies. The higher education system in India facilitates education and training to students from all the social and economic spheres by imparting special concessions to girls and the students from the weaker sections of society.

Family Support: Support rendered to women by husband, in-laws, children or a house maid for performing family duties as that of home maker and care giver of children and the aged.

Women Managers: Those who are involved in the exercise of power in managerial posts, i.e. the power which simultaneously encompasses the making of laws and rules, deciding their application in particular cases and implementing these laws effectively.

Coping Strategies: Various methods used for deliberate, conscious actions like problem solving or relaxation for handling a particular situation which involves a threat or discomfort that hampers the peace, happiness and well-being of the individual concerned. Effectiveness of coping strategy varies for individuals and situations.

Role Conflict: The stressful situation that women face while performing their traditional gender roles of home maker and caregiver of children and elderly along with the modern roles of career woman and administrator. Role conflict is the incompatible expectations within the roles or between the roles. Woman experiences role conflict when she finds to be pulled in various directions while responding to the many statuses held by her.

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