664.3 Psychosomatic health, gender and working conditions in science. A comparative study of male and female scientists in Mexican public universities

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 11:21 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Veronika SIEGLIN , Facultad de Trabajo Social, Depto. de Posgrado, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, San Nicolás de los Garza, Mexico
Neoliberal politics have restructured organizational culture of Mexican public universities and have changed working conditions of fulltime professors. Researchers perceive ongoing  authoritarianism, limited access to institutional resources, lack of distributive  justice, weak support structures, and leaderships’ reluctance to recognize academic achievement of staff.  At the same time labor unions have lost importance as mediators in conflicts between organizations and scientific workers. Individuals who suffer from ongoing interpersonal conflicts with colleagues, superiors and students, symbolic mistreatment and   managerial arbitrariness feel themselves often abandoned and vulnerable. High levels of work stress and tension influence negatively   health status. This is particularly the case of female and young scientists who observe higher levels of health complaints.

 This  study measures psychosomatic health status of 733 fulltime university professors (all  belong to National Research System) from 29 Mexican public universities. Health status is correlated to organizational culture, and personal and professional characteristics of individuals (gender, age, seniority, academic capital, disciplinary adscription).

Data were gathered by an electronic survey. Organizational culture is measured by 34 items (alpha de Cronbach = .973) exploring 5 areas: recognition, support, participation, distributive justice and leadership style. Health status scale (Lickert type) measures the intensity of 5 psychosomatic complaints during the month immediately before data collection (alpha de Cronbach = .907). ANOVA and regression analysis are performed.

High levels of institutional exclusion from decision making, weak institutional workers’ support structures, high institutional reluctance to recognize scientific achievement and/or poor levels of distributive justice generated higher  psychosomatic disorder levels. Women and young academics (age 30-40) had significantly more health problems than males and older staff. No significant correlation was observed between psychosomatic health and scientific discipline, job category and marital status.