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Women and Work Pressure

Prof. Dr. Fathia Muhammed Bahshawan

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Stress generally means the situations that a person is exposed to and which effects on him are greater than his ability to bear, while work stress is the interactions that occur between the work environment and individuals which leads to the emergence of a bad emotional state, such as anxiety and tension, due to personal or environmental factors associated with their work at the facility, where these factors result in the emergence of physical, behavioral or psychological effects on the individuals.


Women are more sensitive to pressure than men, and more afraid of family cohesion and their future. The effects of pressure on women are stronger and more diverse than what happens to men due to their biological and emotional composition as well. In addition, the effects of psychological stress are not limited to women only, but are reflected on the members of the family, especially girls, because they are the most attached to the mother.


Undoubtedly, work makes the women more powerful and valuable in various real and moral aspects, as it makes them feel satisfied, happy and successful, which supports their self-confidence.


In our country, the social values ​​associated with women's work are still not promising, although women have been actually engaged in various and necessary fields of work. The prevailing values ​​still value women's work inside the home only. These social pressures can play a negative role on the mental health of the working women, which creates additional anxiety for them about the extent of success in their job and other roles, and increasing her responsibilities at home as well as marital problems.


This is due to the novelty of women working outside the home, to the various social pressures and obstacles as well as to the special composition of women in terms of their rehabilitation and training, which requires preparation, training and sufficient time so that women can meet the many requirements of working life. In addition, the roles and responsibilities of both spouses are not clear, and there are no special traditions that define and regulate the participation of spouses in their life matters in terms of participation and cooperation in the financial matters, home affairs, child care and other details of common daily life.

Women come to work loaded with the values ​​and habits that they acquired from their environment, accompanied also with the pressures of the life they live, which in turn affect them and the nature of work, and generates negative effects that take multiple forms that may be health, psychological or behavioral, and may be comprehensive for all or  most of these aspects; where women are exposed to a lot of trouble that shows its effects on them. The health effects appear in the form of diseases as the body becomes more susceptible to many of them, such as chronic headaches, indigestion, diabetes, high blood pressure...etc.

The psychological effects appear in the form of anxiety, boredom, decreased job satisfaction, depression, or insomnia. As for the behavioral effects, they are represented in aggressiveness, tendency to sabotage, making improper decisions, and frequent conflicts with co-workers, in addition to the absence, delay and quitting work which lead to the deterioration of the performance, low production quantity and quality, and poor services provided.


It is noticeable that we find cases of confusion and shame or the so-called social phobia (social fear) among a number of working women that requires self-proof and expression, in addition to verbal skills and the need to talk about to others, or difficulties in making decisions and relying on oneself.  This causes her anxiety, stress and concern because those situations related to practical life were not accustomed to the women previously, and they were not familiarized to behaving on their own.


Among the problems that women suffer from is the ambiguity of the role they will play, by which we mean the lack of information that they need to perform their role in the institution, such as information about their limits, authority and responsibilities as well as information about work policies and rules, performance evaluation methods, and others. In addition to placing burdens on women beyond their capacity, which constitutes a source of pressure. The burden may be increased in quantitative terms; as they are asked to do more work than they can complete in the specified time, and this imposes some psychological and social pressures that may affect them and their families.


In addition to being housewives, mothers and wives, a new role has been added to them, the role of the workers. This role forces them to be outside the home for a long time, which creates some problems for them, such as not adapting to their new conditions because they fail to harmonize their roles in their families with the new role and the new circumstances imposed by work. In addition, working women may face a problem that contradicts the timing of the children’s return from school and the timing of their return from work, which makes the working women feel anxious and unsure about their children, and this may leave nervous and psychological tensions that undoubtedly affect their psyche and work.


As a result, conflict of roles may be generated within the family, and some quarrels may occur between women and their husbands due to the legitimacy of the women's spending on the house and bearing part of the house expenses. It may happen that some husbands usurp their wives' wages or burden them with material demands.


The fact that the wife’s salary is higher than that of the husband may lead to the husband's jealousy and frustration, especially if she is in a higher position of employment. The husband may feel more jealous and upset if his wife works with him in the same place, and tries to show her competence, making the husband look upon her as his rival. This situation will inevitably lead to a strained relationship between them, create a climate of depression, and intensify differences, unrest and quarrels, leading to weak family cohesion and its disintegration.


Women’s work, their departure from the house, their exposure to pressures that may be economic, familial, emotional or professional, dealing with colleagues and superiors, and the tension and arguments that work sometimes causes, at times, all affect their psychology and behavior, leaving imprints and effects on their behavior, causing them to lose many of their calm and balance, and thus directly affecting their children, husbands and families.


A large percentage of female workers suffer from stress and anxiety resulting from the great responsibilities placed on their shoulders, which are distributed among the home, children and work. It causes them a lot of life and practical pressures, which leads to a real threat to their psychological and physical health, and thus affects the level of their performance in work and family and their production, and hence their self-esteem is reduced, and their relationships with those around may deteriorate.

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