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Tag Archives: stress

Domestic worker

Source: International Labour Organization

by Christelle Avril and Marie Cartier

Home-based service jobs have developed considerably across Western societies. In fact, chances are high that a working-class woman in France today will, at some point in her life, be a house cleaner, home-based childcare provider, or home aide for the elderly. Political, scholarly, and everyday discourses, saturated with the double prejudices of gender and class, treat all these home service occupations, which require little prior training, the same. In our article (here), we illuminate the variability of the forms of subordination experienced by women in these occupations in France.

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by Noelle Chesley

Mobile-on-a-Boat-Ride

Credit: LexnGer (Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0)

As technology has become an inescapable part of most workplaces, it has become ever more important to understand its impact on employees. Using data from two surveys of U.S. workers, Noelle Chesley examines the effects of both personal and job-related technology use. She finds that increased technology use, especially when it extends work into personal life, is linked with higher levels of worker distress. However, it is also associated with gains in productivity, and personal technology use at work may help employees to manage work-related stress.

 

 

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by Erin L. Kelly and Phyllis Moen

Overworked? Overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Seventy percent of employed Americans say work interferes with their non-work lives. Over half feel they don’t have enough time with their children or spouses. This isn’t just one group: it’s mothers, fathers, married workers, singles, Boomers, GenXers and Millennials.

“Work-life balance” has been discussed for 40 years and many companies have tried to address the issue. Seventy-seven percent of workplaces with more than 50 employees allow some employees to change their schedules and 63% allow some regular work to be done at home. Unfortunately, flextime, telecommuting and shifting to part-time hours are usually provided as “accommodations” to help a few employees.

The root problem, of course, isn’t that employees have family or personal commitments. The root problem is the rigid conventions of work that assume work must occur at certain times and places and that mistakenly gauge productivity by the number of hours spent at work.

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A recent article on Forbes purported to rank the least stressful jobs, and perhaps predictably, sparked outrage among academics when it ranked being a university professor as the number one least stressful job. The article contains some dubious claims that might make you do a double-take if you work as a professor–among them that professors are “off” from May-September, enjoy long breaks during the school year, that there is “some” pressure to publish (!) and that “deadlines are few”. The ranking is based on markers of stress including but not limited to travel, competitiveness, growth potential, and risk to one’s own life or others.

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The New York Times’s Economix Blog had a post on Friday that summarized some interesting new polling data from Gallup. In light of our recent panel on the gender wage gap and the role of “choice” in individual decision making around staying at home vs. working, I thought it would be good to share some quick highlights here.

Among the most interesting findings is that stay-at-home moms reported higher rates of worry, sadness and depressed emotions than their employed counterparts (both with and without children).


This varies by income level, with mothers in households that earn less than $36,000 annually expressing higher rates of worry and stress than their employed peers.

My take away is not that being a stay-at-home mother is intrinsically bad for your mental health. Rather, it may be that the stressors associated with being a stay-at-home mother are such (for some women) that their mental health suffers in comparison to their employed peers. These stressors are likely complicated phenomena with a diverse range of etiologies. Unfortunately, the Gallup report does not go into any follow-up questions that were asked, so we aren’t given a good picture as to why women felt this way.

A couple caveats – these are self reported mental health evaluations, not evaluations by mental health professionals. They are also only descriptive statistics, with no included difference of mean measures or the like. Gallup reports that these data are drawn from a sample n of 60,000 and have a maximum margin of sampling error of +/- 1% (95% confidence).