Occupational stressors and the psychological well-being of women in a welfare work program

Jane LaMonica, Fordham University

Abstract

The current study investigated the relationship between occupational stressors and psychological well-being among women participating in the Community and Alternative Work Experience Program in New Jersey. Racial/ethnic differences in the way women respond to occupational stressors was also explored. The occupational stressors included in the study were excessive job demands, decision latitude, supervisor support, coworker support, control over scheduling work hours and tasks, gender harassment, race discrimination/prejudice, and workfare discrimination. The psychological well-being variables tested were depressive symptoms, somatization, life satisfaction and job satisfaction. ^ Respondents completed self-administered surveys at three non-profit agencies in an urban area of New Jersey. A total of 83 individuals volunteered for the study. Respondents were female, had at least one child under 18 and were participating in a community work experience job (workfare). ^ The study hypotheses were tested using correlation and hierarchical regression analyses. The findings were consistent with the hypothesis that occupational stressors are related to the psychological well-being of women in workfare. Gender harassment, race discrimination/prejudice, and workfare discrimination predicted a significant amount of the variance in depressive symptoms. Control over scheduling work hours and work tasks were significant predictors of life satisfaction. Decision latitude and coworker support together were significant predictors of job satisfaction. Race discrimination/prejudice and workfare discrimination also predicted a significant amount of the variance in job satisfaction. The findings suggest that discrimination and hostility at work have pervasive negative effects on psychological well-being. ^ There were statistically significant correlations between gender harassment, race discrimination/prejudice and workfare discrimination suggesting that women in workfare simultaneously experience all three forms of hostility on the job. The findings also suggest that there may be significant differences between Hispanic/Latina and African American women in the way that they respond to occupational stressors. ^ The findings of the present study are supportive of the occupational stress model. They are consistent with the idea that women in workfare experience noxious work conditions that overwhelm their adaptive capacities, resulting in negative psychological outcomes. This is the initial investigation into the relationship between stressful working conditions and psychological well-being among women in workfare. Workfare discrimination, discrimination on the job due to welfare status, was first introduced in this study. Future studies need to continue to examine how these stressful work conditions effect women in workfare. ^

Subject Area

Social Work|Women's Studies|Psychology, Clinical|Psychology, Industrial|Sociology, Public and Social Welfare|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Recommended Citation

Jane LaMonica, "Occupational stressors and the psychological well-being of women in a welfare work program" (January 1, 2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9963615.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9963615

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