Have Working Women’s Stressors Decreased Under the Policy of Promoting Women at Work?

Friday, 20 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Keiko SAKAKIBARA, Toyo University, Tokyo, Japan
Purpose Promoting women at work is a critical issue in Japanese society, and the Japanese government and corporations have made efforts to address it. Prior research identified two unique stressors for female Japanese corporation workers: work-family conflict and workplace discrimination, which also prevented women from being promoted. This study aimed to examine if such stressors still exist and identify additional stressors for working women.

Method I conducted one-to-one semi-structured interviews from October 2016 to March 2017 with working women (five managers and six professionals in corporations) aged between 30’s and 50’s, as this age bracket is associated with stressors such as responsibilities at work, childcare, elderly care, and sickness. Information on current job, position, career history, faced work stressors, and coping strategies was collected.

Results No interviewees mentioned a discriminatory work climate. Three stressors were identified: work-family conflict, pressure to succeed as female manager, and difficulties to maintain good relationship with partners. Work-family conflict was observed among interviewees with children under 18 years old. However, the impact of this conflict depended on the workplace. Supervisor’s understanding, family-friendly climate, and flexible work arrangements through IT helped working mothers to cope with work-family conflict. Women managers reported often facing pressure to be successful. In addition to heavy workloads, female managers needed to produce high-quality work to obtain positive evaluations and succeed, otherwise companies may hesitate to promote more women. Some female managers reported difficulties to maintain a good relationship with their partners because of lacking time to spend with them. They also mentioned that if promoted to higher positions, their partners would have mixed feelings because the wife’s social status might be higher than the husband’s.

Conclusion Working women face stressors in relation to promotion to higher positions and their private lives. Interviews need to continue to increase the limited sample size.