the decision-making authority and head the families. Women are usually not included in making
decisions and are considered socially and economically dependent on men (Fikree, Pasha, 2004;
Jejeebhoy, Sathar, 2001). This phenomenon is true for both literate and illiterate women.
Historically, in the Indo-Pak's tribal and rural cultures, women were treated as the property of
men. Role of woman has been submission, to serve as a commodity and to sacrifice herself for
the sake of values determined by man (Niaz,2003). That is why w
insecure, incomplete, ineffectiv
e and inefficient without males” (
Niaz, 2003). Due to these
factors they perceived more stressors.
The role of gender in stress appraisal found in this study is in agreement with the western
researches that revealed that stress varies with gender (Bolger & Zukerman, 1995; McDonoigh
& Walters, 2001; Lindiwe, Asner-Self, Kimberly, Schreiber, 2005). In the present study,female
participants exhibited higher levels of occupational stress which is consistent with previous
researches (Blix, Cruise, Mitchell & Blix, 1994; Boyd& Wylie, 1994; Gmelch, Lovrich &
Wilke, 1984; Hogan, Carlson & Dua, 2002). Both male and female managers considered their
jobs challenging and stimulating, men were still in a more favorable position than women
(Lundberg & Frankenhaeuser, 1999).The mean score of female participants on DSS showed that
they perceived all stressors more intensely as compared to males which were in congruence
with Day and
findings that females rated three of the five scenarios as
more stressful than did males. A Meta analysis by Tamres, Janicki, and Helgeson (2002)
revealed that women appraised stressors as being more severe than did men in 17 of the 26
studies reviewed. Women tend to experience more psychological stress and strain than men
(Hall, Chipperfield, Perry, Ruthing, & Goetz, 2006; Roxburgh, 1996; Tytherieigh, Jacob, Webb,
Ricketts, & Cooper, 2007). Women rated the scenarios as more stressful than men and
perception of stressfulness increased with par
ticipant’s negativity (Eaton &
The gender differences found in this study have various and complex reasons. In the
patriarchal societies such as Pakistan, "sons are perceived to have economic, social or religious
utility; daughters are often felt to be an economic liability (Fikree & Pasha 2003).Similar results
have been reported in a study of college students in 30 countries, where males were widely
believed to be dominant, independent, aggressive, achievement oriented and enduring , while
females were widely believed to be nurturing, mellow, less esteemed and more helpful in the
time of distress (William & Best, 1982).Males and females perceived more similarity in the
Christian than in the Muslim societies. Women were more likely to perceive similarity between
the sexes than the men were (William &Best, 1989).
One reason of high stress in females is the discrimination women face due to the cultural
and religious norms that Pakistani society embraces (Bettencourt,
Perhaps the economic
dependence of wives on their husbands tends to mute their reaction towards discrimination.
The differences in stress between male and female participants may be due to important
national and cultural differences in shaping gender and family policies (Korpi, 2000).Females, in
this study, scored high mean on the item
“It is difficult for me to deal with family issues”
(F=2.90, M=2.43). There are many family issues related with females such as domestic violence,
education, and marriage of daughters, infertility, marital conflict, economic status and
job permissions. These various types of family issues lead females to emotional, psychological
and physical problems.
One major issue is domestic violence and approximately 70% to 90% of Pakistani
women are subjected to domestic violence (Human Rights Watch, 1999). Honor killing, spousal
abuse including marital rape, acid attacks and being burned by family members are the other
types of violence. The practice of
is known to occur in many parts of the country
(Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 2000).
Regarding acid attacks, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (2012) did research on female violence
and presented a
documentary film “saving face” which won 84
female Oscar Award. This was
the first Oscar award given to any Pakistani woman for the brevity and courage she showed by
giving coverage to cases who were victimized by acid attacks on their faces. She said th
at “It is a
story of hope with a powerful message for the Pakistani audience. I felt this would be a great
way to show how Pakistanis can help other Pakistanis overcome their problems”
all these discriminations because divorce is not appreciated in our society as well as in our
religion. Many religions expect members to adhere to traditional values. For instance, divorce is
discouraged in Islam and is viewed unacceptable by the Catholic Christians. A divorced female
is frowned upon and criticized by the society. Rarely remarried, she becomes a burden on her
parents or siblings for life. Such attitude makes it very difficult for a woman to end even a
violent relationship. Women tend to believe that they were committing a sin by dissolving even
an abusive marriage (Hoffeler, 1983). This sort of thinking increases their stressors.
Males are expected to be "masculine" characterized by machismo, bravery and courage.
Females are expected to be "feminine" characterized by fragility, timidity and submission. It
would appear that males would possess greater power and females are the weaker sex (Dobash &
Dobash, 1992). Therefore, the male dominance becomes one of the significant predictor of the
violence against women in the country. Marital conflict has been found to be related with the
domestic violence (Heise, 1998).
Other family issues involve large number of daughters. Studies have revealed that
females who have more daughters are more likely to suffer from violence than the females who
have more sons (Human Rights Commission of Pakistan,1999). In a similar manner, females
who do not have children are subjected to not only violence by their husbands and in-laws, but
are harassed by the society as well.
Furthermore, the practice of dowry also plays an important role in producing stress.
females whose dowries are perceived inadequate by their husband and in-laws, suffer
considerably more harassment in the husband's home than do females whose dowries are more
substantial (Human Rights Watch).
A major issue for females in Pakistanis that they remain anxious about the marriages of
their daughters. Early marriages are a very common practice in the Southeast Asian countries
particularly in Pakistan as the girls are considered a social, economical and religious liability on
the families, which needs to be disposed off as soon as possible (Fikree & Pasha, 2004). Mothers
have the responsibility to train their daughter for taking multiple roles after marriage. Vermeulen
(2004) reported that in African Muslim cultures, girls are still emotionally programmed to
become good wives and mothers and are preached about the need to sacrifice themselves for
husbands and children. Females are doing many responsibilities at a time: mother, daughter,
daughter in law, aunt and guardian. Taking multiple roles exert immense and enormous pressure
on the females to respond to such expectations. Males mostly do not allow their females to go
outside for job. However, working outside is considered as a privilege granted by men. It is a
permission" and not a right (Kadir, Fikree, Khan & Sajan, 2003).
In this study female participants showed high stress on work-home conflict. The item
work I remain anxious about my family
in the Family and Personal Scale of
DSS was highly endorsed by females. Mean score of females was more than the mean score of
males (F=3.25, M=2.45). Due to multiple responsibilities at home as well as workplace it
becomes difficult to balance between the two domains. This sort of work-home-conflict
increases the family stress in women. Although Najam and Mobin (1991) reported that Pakistani
working women not only perform house hold task along with their jobs but also participate in
family functions, thereby enhancing social interaction.
In Pakistani society, females are expected to be more concerned with family and shoulder
more family responsibilities as compared to men. Females are supposed to take care of children,
husbands and elderly. Loscocco (1997) demonstrated that women experience greater interference
from family to work than men. There is also a growing literature detailing psychological and
physical effects of stress associated with care giving. Society continues to expect that women
will take responsibility of the majority of child care and work in the home (Long & Cox, 2000).
The research literature can offer several explanations with regard to gender differences in family
The family related stressors in females can be reduced by following the suggestions of
Esping, Gallie, Hemerijck and Myles (2002) who reported a friendly employment system in the
Nordic countries, which has been extremely successful in attracting mothers in employments by
providing high facilities in child care and mother friendly job opportunities in public sector. This
system can also be followed in Pakistani culture to lessen the stressors of working women and
bring more women force into the main stream of work.
The females who live with in joint family system face a lot of interference in their life
causing disciplinary problems. That is why the mean (F=2.7, M=2.5) for females on the item
“Disciplinary problems at home are unbearable for me” on DSS was high.
on the item ‘other stressors’ in the questionnaire reported that their children’s attitudes towards
studies, temper tantrums, careless behavior and over protection from grandparents cause
indiscipline at home causing high stress in their lives.
Too many family and job responsibilities restrict females to pay attention to their moral
responsibilities. For example, a common example of a moral obligation or religious belief in our
culture is the act of charity, serving parents, helping the poor, sparing time for neighbors and
performing religious rituals. Females
score on the item “I am not able to fulfill my moral
responsibilities” was high
(F=2.63, M=2.21) as compared to males. Working Females, due to
excessive responsibilities remain unable to perform their moral duties such as less time to visit
their own parents, neighbors, children and religious duties.
Another issue is that females catering for the needs of husbands, children and in-laws remain
unable to pay attention to their own health. They involve in the family matters in such a way that
their own health deteriorates. That is why the responses of females
on the item “I do not take
care of my health”
were high (F=3.24, M=2.61).
Dealing with others at work place, home and society needs a lot of communication skills,
emotional intelligence and patience. Females in Pakistan are trained by their parents to be shy
and hesitant. They are not liked to be bold and confident by the society. Due to these
communication barriers, they are misunderstood everyday by others. That is why they scored
high on the item
“I become stressed when people misunderstand me”
Regarding hypothesis 6b, “There are gender differences in the perception of Environmental
stressors on DSS”
the mean of female participants was 26.06 (SD=4.89) and for male
participants 27.45 (SD=4.62) which showed no significant gender difference in Environmental
stressors. The reason may be that the whole nation was the target of bomb blasts and suicidal
attacks. Both males and females were facing scarcity of electricity, gas, water and other
resources. Both were the victim of dengue, floods, earth quakes and load shedding.
A little difference of mean was found on different items of the scale. For example, the
mean values for the females on the items like “Pollution is adversely affecting my daily life”
“I fear suicidal attacks at public places”
, “I get disturbed
by the injustices of society”
, “geopolitical con
ditions in the country are
stressful for me”
(F=3.80, M=2.64) were high as compared to males.
The hypothesis 6c
that “There are gender differences in Workplace Stressors on DSS”
was not supported in this study. The mean (F=28 .03, M=29.07) with a t, 1.46, (df = 180) was
not significant. Although there was slight mean difference between male and female participants
on the items “Lack of empowerment at workplace is a source of tension for me” (F=3.86,
M=3.88), “I am stressed when I cannot find time for my further/higher education” (F=4.1,
M=3.98)“I remain anxious about my professional growth” (F=4.1, M=4.00), “Satisfying boss is
difficult for me” (F=2.65, M=2.83), “Over ambitious colleagues try to put me down” (F2.80=,
M=2.87)“Inconsistent policies of my institution bother me” (F=3.45, M=3.64)“Communication
gap between administration and faculty is a stress” (F=3.69, M=3.98) “There are more demands
on my time than usual (F=3.39, M=3.33)”.
No significant differences were found between male
and female participants on these items. The reason may be that females entered in the work force
after a long struggle. They hardly got permission from their male family members for jobs. They
did not want to loose the opportunity so they struggled hard at work place just like males.
Hypothesis6d was that
“There are gender differences on the Professional Stressors of
. Present study found out minimal gender differences in Professional Stressors on DSS. The
reason may be that with the global changing trends and attitudes females in Pakistan were
equally struggling for career opportunities and professional growth. They were getting jobs in
multinational companies, restaurants, bus services, shopping malls, police force and the
departments were their entry was prohibited previously. They were outperforming the males in
some domains. The female participants of the study were getting further studies inspite of getting
married and having children. Many of them were enrolled in PhD studies, doing different
research projects, writing research articles and going in Western countries for higher education.
That is why they were experiencing similar level of professional stress.
that “there are gender differences
When the mean
scores on GHQ were subjected to t-test male faculty showed significant mean differences on
GHQ(M= 20.35, SD=9.95) as compared to female faculty (M= 24.03, SD= 12.4) with t (179) =
2.09, p<.05. Females scored high on GHQ. Females mean was also significant on its subscale
i.e. depression (M= 4.72, SD= 4.04) as compared to males (M=2.1, SD= 2.98) with t (180) =
4.59, P<.001. No significant gender differences were revealed in anxiety, insomnia and social
The 8th hypothesis that
‘There are gender differences in the use of coping strategies for
daily stressors” was also tested for significance. There were gender differences in total coping,
female’s mean was high as compared to males
(t (179) = 3.36, p = <.001), depicting that females
use all type of coping more as compared to males. Previous research supported that females
reported a greater likelihood of using all type of coping strategies (Eaton & Bradley, 2008)
women reported using all type of coping behavior more often than men (Temres, janicki &
Helgeson,2002).Gender had both a direct and indirect effect on the scores of depression and
anxiety with negative life events and psychosocial factors such as optimism, social support and
coping, acting as moderators (George & Nickole, 2007).
The 8a hypothesis was that
Males select problem focused coping strategies more often
than emotion focused coping strategies, where as females choose emotion focused and avoidance
focused coping strategies more often as compared to males
. No significant gender differences in
problem focused coping were found in this study. Both coped with daily stressors in a similar
way. The reason may be that by getting more professional and work oriented they had to adopt
problem focused coping along with other types of coping. These findings are in contrast with the
findings of the previous research which showed that men were more likely to use problem
focused coping. Men have been reported to be more likely than women to engage in coping that
alters a situation (Folkman & Lazarus, 1980), men are more inclined to use active problem-
focused coping strategies, planning and rationalizing their actions, engaging in positive thinking,
perseverance, self adaptation and personal growth (Vingerhoets & Van Heck, 1990). In the
present study no gender differences were found in problem focused coping.
However, a significant mean difference in emotion focused coping was found between
males and females. Female participants got high score on the
items “I have been getting
emotional support from others”, “I have been getting comfort and understanding from others”
and “Saying things to let my unpleasant feelings escape” as compared to males. Males scored
high on the item “I have been making fun of the situation” as compared to females.
research supported the findings of the present research that females reported a greater likelihood
of using emotion focused coping strategies more than males (Eaton& Bradley, 2008) and men
and women cope in different ways (Endler & Parker, 1994). Studies investigating relative
coping showed that women were more likely to seek emotional support. Women prefer emotion
focused solutions, engaging in self blame and wishful thinking.
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