ROLE CONFLICTS AND COPING STRATEGIES OF WOMEN SEEKING CAREER COUNSELLING By VALERIE GRACE WARD B.A. (Honours), Acadia University, 1974 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Counselling Psychology) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard The University of British Columbia October 1984 © Valerie Grace Ward, 1984 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. I t i s understood that copying or publication of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Department of Counselling Psychology The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 ^ ^ October 9, 1984 Date ii ABSTRACT This study investigated the role conflicts and coping strategies of women seeking career counselling, by means of the Critical Incident Technique (Flanagan, 1954). On a questionnaire developed by the author, 39 subjects were each asked to provide a total of four examples of conflict situations and how they dealt with them: one in ter role conflict situation which they consider they handled effectively; one interrole-ineffective situation; one intrarole-effective situation; and one intrarole-ineffective situation. For the two conflict situations handled ineffectively, subjects were also asked to describe, by hindsight, how they would like to have handled the situations. A total of 93 critical incidents of career-related role conflicts and coping strategies were used as a basis for developing classification schemes for Role Conflicts and Coping Strategies. The 40 examples of desirable strategies identified by hindsight were used to construct a classification scheme for Hindsight Strategies. The procedures followed and the decisions made in the process of analyzing the critical incidents were described, and the central themes which emerged in categorizing each group of incidents were summarized. Results of the analysis were then presented, in tabular as well as narrative form, with illustrative examples of each category. For the Role Conflict categories, central issues or themes in the conflicts were also noted for each category. Coping Strategies were described in terms of behaviours associated with each category. Hindsight Strategies were presented in terms of the values and behaviours associated with each strategy. When two independent raters were asked to classify a large sample of incidents into the categories, all three classification schemes demonstrated high levels of reliability. The small number of incidents which were classified differently by raters were examined to identify areas for potential refinement of the classification schemes. iii The discussion of results included a summary of patterns which were evident in the structure of role conflicts, and an identification of the criteria and constructs subjects seem to apply in the assessment of coping effectiveness. A comparison was also made between desirable coping strategies identified by hindsight and the strategies actually utilized by subjects which were considered to be effective. The study concluded with a comparison of the findings of the present study with those of previous researchers, a discussion of both theoretical and practical implications of the study, and suggested directions for further research. iv TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT ii TABLE OF CONTENTS iv LIST OF TABLES viii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ix CHAPTER I. SCOPE AND FOCUS OF THE STUDY 1 Background of the Problem 1 The Problem 6 Questions 7 Definition of Terms 8 Delimitation of the Study 14 Justification of the Study 15 CHAPTER H. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 19 Socio-Cultural Influences and the Female Sex Role 20 The Female Sex Role: A Historical Overview 21 Factors Shaping Contemporary Attitudes Towards Women's Roles 24 Conceptions of Role Conflict 25 Role Conflict as a Function of Sex Role Expectations . . . . 27 Role Conflict as Psychological and Practical Problems of Role Management 35 Role Transitions and Role Discontinuity 43 Empirical Studies of Role Conflict 45 Research on Sex Role Conflicts 45 Studies of Role Conflict and Variables Related to Role Strains 48 Strategies for Coping with Role Conflict: Classification Schemes and Empirical Studies 61 Hall's Model of Coping with Role Conflict 62 Empirical Studies Utilizing Hall's Model 65 Pearlin and Schooler's Research on "The Structure of Coping" 77 Combining the Coping Models of Hall and Pearlin and Schooler: A New Approach 87 Coping with Role Transitions 91 Role Conflict and Coping Strategies of Dual-Career Couples 92 Conclusion 93 V TABLE OF CONTENTS (cont'd) Page CHAPTER HI. METHODOLOGY 95 Measuring Instruments 95 Client Survey: Women's Employment Project 95 Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle 96 Instrument Development 96 The Critical Incident Technique 97 Validity and Reliability . 100 Design 102 Sampling and Data Collection Procedures 103 Characteristics of the Sample 106 Data Analysis 112 Analysis of Critical Incidents 112 Frame of Reference 113 Category Formulation 114 Generality Versus Specificity of Behavioural Descriptions 115 Decisions to be Made in the Course of Analysis 116 CHAPTER IV. RESULTS 117 Dilemmas and Decisions Made During the Process of Analysis . . . 118 Frame of Reference 118 Separating Out Career-Related Incidents 118 Superordinate Categories 119 Category Formulation 122 The Selection of Levels of Generality-Specificity 129 Classification Scheme for Career-Related Role Conflicts . . . . 133 Intrarole Conflicts 133 Anticipated Change in Career Role (Career Transitions) 133 Employee Role 156 Student Role 161 Interrole Conflicts 165 Career and Parent Roles 165 Career and Partner Roles 172 Managing Two Work Roles 178 Career and Family Member Roles 179 Career and Friend Roles 181 Categorizing Coping Strategies 184 Classification Scheme for Coping Strategies 186 Coping Strategies for Intrarole Conflicts 186 Anticipated Change in Career Role (Career Transitions) 186 Employee Role 210 Student Role 218 v i TABLE OF CONTENTS (cont'd) Page C H A P T E R IV. RESULTS (cont'd) Coping Strategies for Interrole Conf l icts 223 Career and Parent Roles 223 Career and Partner Roles 232 Managing Two Work Roles 238 Career and Fami ly Member Roles 241 Career and Friend Roles 243 Categoriz ing Hindsight Strategies 245 Class i f icat ion Scheme for Hindsight Strategies 246 Hindsight Strategies for Intrarole Conf l icts 246 Ant ic ipated Change in Career Role (Career Transitions) 246 Employee Role 253 Student Role 256 Hindsight Strategies for Interrole Conf l icts 257 Career and Parent Roles 257 Career and Partner Roles 259 Managing Two Work Roles 262 Career and Fami ly Member Roles 263 Career and Friend Roles 265 Independent Rater Re l iab i l i ty Check 266 Summary 278 C H A P T E R V. DISCUSSION OF RESULTS A N D CONCLUS IONS. . . 279 Limitat ions of the Study 279 Character i st ics of the Sample 279 Data Co l lect ion Procedures 282 Responses to Secondary Research Questions 283 Patterns Which Were Evident in the Structure of Role Conf l icts 283 Differences Between Coping Strategies Judged E f fec t i ve Versus Ineffective 287 Coping Strategies with Mixed Effectiveness Ratings . . . . 292 Factors Which Influence the Perceived Effectiveness of Coping, Depending on the Roles Involved in the Conf l i c t 295 Comparing Hindsight Strategies with Coping Strategies Judged to be E f fect i ve 297 Relationship of Findings in the Present Study to Previous L i terature 301 Role Conf l icts 301 Coping Strategies and Coping Effectiveness 304 P rac t i ca l Implications 306 v i i TABLE OF CONTENTS (cont'd) Page C H A P T E R V. DISCUSSION OF RESULTS A N D CONCLUS IONS (cont'd) Recommendations for Further Research 309 Potent ia l Further Analysis of Data From the Present Study 309 Potent ia l Further Directions for Research on Role Conf l i c t and Coping 310 Summary and Conclusions 313 R E F E R E N C E S 316 APPEND ICES 326 A. C l ient Survey: Women's Employment Project, with Cover Letters 326 B. Questionnaire on Role Conf l i c t and L i festy le, with Cover Letters 338 C. Variables 351 D. Some Potent ia l Research Questions for Further Analysis of Data in the Present Study 353 viii LIST OF TABLES Page Table 1 Background Information on Subjects 107 Table 2 Employment Status by Student Status 109 Table 3 Marital Status by Parental Status 110 Table 4 Decisions Regarding Marginally Career-Related Incidents 120 Table 5 Career-Related Role Conflicts by Superordinate Category 127 Table 6 Illustration of the Process of Editing Incidents for Clarification 130 Table 7 Classification Scheme for Career-Related Role Conflicts. . . 134 Table 8 Number of Incidents Rated Effective Versus Ineffective by Coping Category 185 Table 9 Classification Scheme for Coping Strategies 187 Table 10 Hindsight Strategies for Career-Related Role Conflicts, by Superordinate Category 247 Table 11 Classification Scheme for Hindsight Strategies 248 Table 12 Distribution of Role Conflict Incidents Used for Reliability Ratings 267 Table 13 Distribution of Coping Strategy Incidents Used for Reliability Ratings 268 Table 14 Distribution of Hindsight Strategy Incidents Used for Reliability Ratings 269 Table 15 Reliability of Role Conflict Categories 272 Table 16 Reliability of Coping Strategy Categories 273 Table 17 Reliability of Hindsight Strategy Categories 274 Table 18 Illustration of the Structure of Role Conflict Situations . . . 286 Table 19 Construct Dimensions in Subjects' Assessment of Coping Effectiveness 289 ix ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many people have provided me with support and assistance during the various stages of this project. I would firstly like to express my appreciation to Dr. Sharon Kahn for contributing significantly to my growing interest in the psychology of women, and more specifically, in conducting research on role conflict. Her teaching played an important role in my recognition of the value of feminist approaches to research. I am grateful for her patience and support as my principal advisor on the project over the three and a half year period from its conception to delivery. I would like to thank Dr. Larry Cochran for sparking my interest in the Critical Incident Technique as a research method and encouraging my use of this method to study role conflict. I also appreciate the useful suggestions provided by Dr. Bob Conry in the development of the Client Survey: Women's Employment Project. I am also very appreciative of the assistance provided by B.C./Yukon Region of Canada Employment and Immigration Commission. I would like to thank the Education Leave Committee and Regional Director General for granting me six weeks paid education leave to work on this project during the summer of 1983. I would also like to thank Al St. Onge, staff of the Word Processing Centre, Kim Perrin, Maureen Brown and Susan Whittemore for providing various kinds of administrative support to the project. Finally, I am very appreciative of the support of L. Bert Sabiston in allowing me flexibility in work arrangements to enable me to complete this thesis in the face of my own role conflicts. For the long hours spent typing the many pages of this thesis, I am very grateful to Terry Jones, Diana Hevey and Lisa Rudrum. I would also like to thank Gisela Theurer and Phil Mondor for their time and prompt attention to the rating task, under the pressure of impending deadlines. X I would like to congratulate my friends and colleagues for their endurance. To those who had faith when I had doubt, to those who humoured me and took me seriously, to those who encouraged me to make time to play in the face of occasional overload conditions - my heartfelt thanks. With their help, I discovered that there are many ways of learning about role conflict and coping, and that in order to be able to study everyday life, one must remember also to live it. In remembrance of times past which contributed significantly to my ability to undertake this study, I would like to express warm appreciation to Dr. Herbert Lewis and his colleagues in the Philosophy Department at Acadia University (1970 - 1974). There I was inspired and taught (to have the courage) to think, to wrestle with abstractions, and to enjoy the challenge of "conceptual mapping." Through my studies in phenomenology, I came to appreciate the value of grounding such analysis in real examples from everyday experience. Last, but definitely not least, I would like to thank the women who participated in this study for their interest in the research. Ultimately, it was their willingness to share their experiences which made this study possible. 1 C H A P T E R I SCOPE A N D FOCUS OF T H E STUDY Background of the Problem Adult life, for both women and men, involves a continual process of change and evolution in significant life roles. Over the course of one's life, decisions are made and events occur which establish, sustain and change the structures of our lives in domains of work, relationships, family and leisure. The roles that we play and the role choices that we make have significant consequences in shaping our experiences and personalities: (1) they define the behaviour expected of us by others; (2) they are the major sources of our feelings about ourselves; and (3) they expose us to experiences which can affect our later attitudes, feelings and behaviour (Sales, 1978; Schlossberg, Troll & Liebowitz, 1978). The task of managing multiple roles is one of the complex challenges of human existence, a process which is often characterized by conflict. The concept of role is most frequently understood as the set of expectations that arise from the positions that one holds in society; a position (sometimes called status) is a collectively recognized category for classifying people (Biddle & Thomas, 1966; Linton, 1936). Some positions, such as employee, are achieved, as a result of one's effort, behaviour or choices. Other positions or roles are ascribed, based on personal attributes, such as gender, age, ethnic group membership, and race, which are accorded a particular significance by society (Davis, 1949; Sarbin & Allen, 1968). The mere "possession" of any of these personal attributes accords one involuntary membership in a group, with a corresponding set of expectations. Despite the fact that generally we have no choice about which gender, age or ethnic group to identify ourselves, we are expected to behave in ways that are appropriate to our ascribed roles of gender, age, and so on. Ascribed roles can carry as many, if not more, expectations or demands 2 as achieved roles. Often the expectations of ascribed and achieved roles come into conflict with each other. Sales (1978) describes the dilemma which arises when an individual's ascribed status conflicts with their achieved status: A young person who holds a position of power and authority, a black who enters a high-status profession, or a woman who pursues a career may be discomforted in having two positions that involve such competing expectations for their behavior. In each case, their work demands behavior that is incompatible with the submissiveness expected by their ascribed age, race or sex role. Even if they attain personal comfort in their jointly-held roles, they may meet other people who are disconcerted by the inconsistency in their various positions, (p. 158) Gender or sex role is perhaps the most significant of all personal attributes in terms of the range of other role expectations it carries, affecting virtually every aspect of life. Every woman today experiences expectations associated with the ascribed status of the female gender role. Being female carries critical implications for the achieved roles to which one is expected to aspire. Neugarten (1968) describes a "social clock" or timetable of expected role patterns throughout the life cycle, based on one's gender. Marriage and motherhood have traditionally been the key roles which are expected of females to be successful in society as a woman. Engagement in these two roles has traditionally been the most significant socially prescribed developmental task for women in early adulthood (Sales, 1978). Every woman today also has to contend with the contradictory or incompatible expectations as to what behaviour is appropriate for a woman which arise during this period of social change. The Women's Movement has urged women to consider a much wider range of role options, including establishing a career and enjoying the satisfactions of autonomy and achievement which were not formerly viewed as appropriate for women. Although a greater range of role and lifestyle options are available today than ever before, the potential for role conflicts in women has never been greater (e.g. Fitzgerald & Crites, 1980; Frieze, Parsons, Johnson, Ruble 6c Zellman, 1978). 3 As Sales (1978) points out, despite the range of options now available to women, if one chooses to deviate from the traditional path, one must face social consequences: Regardless of whether one follows or deviates from the role pattern defined by society, one is always aware of the synchronies and asynchronies between our own lives and the "ideal-typical" life we are expected to be living at any age period. . . Non-adherence to life cycle sex role norms is a major source of stress for the non-traditional woman. Unmarried women past their middle twenties, childless women past thirty, and mothers who work when their children are young risk social disapproval for holding non-normative roles, (p. 163) The conflict described above, between others' expectations and one's own behaviour for the non-traditional woman, is one example of role conflict (based on non-adherence to life cycle sex-role norms). Role conflict can also be defined more broadly as any situation in which incompatible expectations are placed on a person because of position membership (Gross, Mason & McEachern, 1958; Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek & Rosenthal, 1964). The demands or expectations associated with various roles can originate in self and/or others (Levinson, 1959). One has expectations of oneself, for example, as a parent and as an employee. At the same time, one's children, spouse/partner and work associates carry expectations for one's behaviour in these roles. All of these demands and expectations can come into conflict in a number of ways. Perhaps the simplest form of role conflict is intrarole conflict, or conflict within a role, where one's own and other people's expectations for one's behaviour in that role come into conflict (Hall, 1972). An example would be the woman who perceives her job very differently than her supervisor does, and they have ongoing disagreements as to what projects she should be permitted to undertake. Interrole conflicts or conflicts between roles (Hall, 1972) can become much more complicated. We have "my expectations of myself" in Role A and Role B, and we have "others' expectations of me" in Role A and Role B. Conflicts can 4 arise in the following cases: (1) my expectations of myself in Role A conflict with my expectations of myself in Role B (we could call these "self-self" conflicts); or (2) others' expectations of me in Role A conflict with others' expectations of me in Role B ("other-other" conflicts); or (3) combinations of self and others' expectations of me in Roles A and B conflict ("self-other" conflicts), e.g. my expectations of myself in Role A conflict with others' expectations of me in Role B. The above construction of potential types of interrole conflict is, of course, hypothetical. Expectations of self and others are rarely totally distinct, separate or clear. Often, they are not explicitly communicated or acknowledged. Although we are unlikely to encounter many "pure" examples of the hypothetical types of interrole conflict cited above, it is important to be alerted to the possibility that these different forms of conflict might be perceived, experienced and handled quite differently, depending on how the expectations come into conflict. Such an approach to role conflict warrants much closer examination than it has received to date in the literature. The kinds of interrole conflict that are generally referred to in the literature are well illustrated by the categories used in a study by Holahan and Gilbert (1979a). The six basic categories or types of conflict studied are defined simply in terms of the pair of roles involved in the conflict. The first type of conflict is Worker vs. Spouse, for example, wanting to be a "good" spouse vs. being unwilling to risk taking the time from your work. The second type is Worker vs. Parent, for example, spending most evenings on work-related activities vs. spending most evenings with your family. The third type is Worker vs. Self, such as wanting to be recognized at a high level in terms of your work vs. wanting to maximize your personal development. The fourth type is Spouse vs. Parent, for example, spending prime time developing and maintaining the relationship with your spouse vs. spending prime time developing and maintaining the relationship with your child. The fifth 5 type, Spouse vs. Self, would occur, for example, when the lifestyle you prefer differs from the lifestyle preferred by your spouse. Finally, the sixth type is Parent vs. Self, for example, the issue of giving priority to your family vs. giving priority to yourself (Holahan & Gilbert, 1979a). It is clear from the above examples that many issues of role conflict involve clarifying one's values and priorities in relation to one's life roles. It is also clear that all of these role conflicts can be felt and acted out intrapsychically, interpersonally, or both (Deutsch, 1969; Nevill & Damico, 1975b). Role conflict has also been conceptualized in terms of situational factors, / the difficulty in managing the external time and energy demands of multiple roles. This phenomenon has been referred to as role overload, where it becomes impossible to try to meet all the demands of one's roles (Paloma & Garland, 1971a,b; Rapaport & Rapaport, 1971, 1972). Role overload has most often been cited as a dilemma for women who attempt to combine paid work and family roles. This phenomenon is understood to occur, at least in part, for married women due to the fact that childrearing and homemaking are still generally considered to be the wife's duty (Bernard, 1975b; Clark, 1976; Rapaport & Rapaport, 1969). The single parent who is employed, or a student, might experience overload even more acutely in the absence of a partner who (at least, potentially) could share in time-consuming childrearing and homemaking responsibilities. The preceding discussion highlights some of the diversity of approaches which have been taken to the problem of role conflict. If we allow our definition of role conflict to encompass both the practical and psychological problems associated with the ascribed and achieved roles of women, we will have to understand role conflict as taking a wide variety of forms, ranging from relatively minor inconveniences of time management (such as how to get dinner on the table while the phone is ringing, children are fighting, the sitter is late and you are late for an evening meeting) to major life decisions and transitions (such as whether to have a child or take a promotion). 6 This research study rests on the belief that a woman's ability to deal successfully with role conflicts is important to her experience of psychological health or well-being (e.g. Basow, 1980; Gray, 1980a). Although taking on a variety of challenging life roles may well be a significant basis for women's psychological health in itself (Barnett & Baruch, 1978a; Birnbaum, 1975), the more roles one is involved in, the more role demands will need to be balanced, and the more role conflicts are likely to be experienced. This study also proceeds from the premise that a much clearer understanding of role conflict is needed than presently exists in the literature (Fitzgerald & Crites, 1980). Definitions should be refined based on empirical research, that is, rooted in women's own descriptions of conflict situations which they have experienced. At the same time, we need a better understanding of the ways that women cope with the conflicts they experience, based on their own descriptions and their own assessments of the effectiveness of their coping strategies. The Problem The purpose of this study is to investigate the nature of the conflicts women experience in managing their life roles and the ways that women deal with the conflicts they experience. Using a mail questionnaire format, "critical incidents" (Flanagan, 1954) of role conflict and coping were systematically collected from clients seeking career counselling at the Women's Employment Project, Vancouver, B.C.* Critical incidents collected across a number of individuals were used as a basis for developing classification schemes for (1) types of role conflict and (2) strategies used for coping with these conflicts. Strategies women identified by * The name of the Women's Employment Project (W.E.P.) was officially changed to "Women's Employment Counselling Unit" in April 1981. Since all of the subjects in the sample visited the counselling unit prior to the name change, the former name (W.E.P.) has been used in the questionnaire. To avoid confusion, the name "W.E.P." will be used consistently throughout the present study. 7 hindsight as ways that they would like to have coped with conflict situations were also collected and categorized into a comprehensive classification scheme, (3) hindsight strategies. The three classification schemes were then examined for significant patterns and relationships to one another. Comparisons were made between coping strategies judged effective versus ineffective for various types of conflict. Hindsight strategies were compared to coping strategies actually utilized by women which were reported as effective. A final step of this study was to examine the three classification schemes in relation to current research literature on women's role conflicts and coping strategies (outlined in Chapter II). The themes and implied relationships which emerged from this analysis are then used as a basis for a discussion of suggested directions for further research. Questions The specific questions which this study addresses are listed below. The primary questions relate to the basic descriptive data to be yielded by the study (outlined in Chapter IV). The secondary questions are intended to provide a focus for a discussion (in Chapter V) of the patterns which emerge from taking an overview of the descriptive data, and examining the implications of these patterns in terms of potential areas for further research. Pr imary Questions 1. What types of career-related role conflicts are experienced by women seeking career counselling? 2. How do these women cope with the conflicts they experience, i.e. what types of coping strategies - both effective and ineffective - are used to handle or resolve these conflicts? 8 3. What kinds of ideal or desirable coping strategies do women identify by hindsight for conflict situations which they consider they handled ineffectively? Secondary Questions 1. Does the nature of role conflicts differ depending on the role or roles involved in the conflict or do conflicts associated with different roles cluster into similar patterns? 2. a) How do coping strategies judged effective compare and contrast with those judged ineffective? b) Are there some strategies which are effective in some situations and ineffective in others? c) What factors appear to differentiate coping judged effective versus ineffective? d) Do these factors differ depending on the role(s) involved in the conflict? 3. How do desirable coping strategies identified by hindsight compare to coping strategies actually used by women which were judged to be effective? Definition of Terms The significant terms which were used in this study are defined below in terms of the manner in which each has been operationalized for purposes of the present study. Each of the variables used in the study is also described in summary form in Appendix C, along with a listing of the source of data for each. Critical Incident The meaning of the term "critical incident" follows the definition Flanagan (1954) uses in his article outlining the development, principles and status of the Critical Incident Technique. "By an incident is meant any observable human activity that is sufficiently complete in itself to permit inferences and predictions to be made about the person performing the act. To be critical, an incident must occur 9 in a situation where the purpose or intent of the act seems fairly clear to the observer and where its consequences leave little doubt concerning its effects" (p. 327). Role The term "role" is understood in terms of Levinson's (1959) definition of role as a process. The three components of the role process as described by Levinson (1959) are: (1) structurally given demands (i.e. norms and expectations that guide, impede or support the functioning of a person in a specific position); (2) personal role conception (i.e. the person's inner definition of what she or he is supposed to do); and (3) role behaviour (i.e. the way in which persons act in accordance with or in violation of a given set of organizational norms). The notions of "roles" and "role conflicts" are introduced in the Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle (see Appendix B). It is assumed that subjects will be familiar with the term "role" due to its common use in everyday speech, but for purposes of clarification they are referred to the list of life roles (including Daughter, Employee, Friend and so forth) provided in the questionnaire. Role(s) in Conflict Role(s) in conflict refers to the roles selected by subjects for reporting incidents of role conflict. Roles in conflict (plural) refers to roles selected for interrole (between roles) conflict reports, and role in conflict (singular) refers to the roles chosen for intrarole (within a role) conflict reports. Role Conflict "Role conflict" is defined in the present study as interpersonal or intrapsychic conflicts which arise when a woman struggles with conflicting expectations or demands on her in a given role or pair of roles (Holahan & Gilbert, 1979b). In the first type of role conflict situation, there is conflict between different sets of expectations for one or more different roles. These can include conflicts between 10 a woman's multiple expectations of herself, or a conflict between expectations of herself and others' expectations of her. The second type of role conflict arises in periods of social change, when one's own and others' definitions of role expectations are ambiguous and lack specificity. The conflict in this case is between demands of the former "role model" and the emerging one, sometimes conceptualized as a conflict between traditional and contemporary values. Interrole conflict is defined by Hall (1972) as "conflict arising from multiple roles" (p. 473). Intrarole conflict is defined in terms of conflicting expectations within a particular role (Hall, 1972, p. 473). Career-Related Role Conflicts The term "career-related" is used in this study to identify conflicts women described which were directly associated with their current or potential paid work roles (usually employee) or student roles. A wide range of conflicts associated with career decision-making (when the career role is in transition) are also included in this category. Career-related conflicts can occur within an existing or potential career role (intrarole conflicts) or between a career role and other roles, such as parent, partner, friend or family member (interrole conflicts). Role labels in the Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle which are covered under the "career-related" category include Employee, Employer, Professional, Student, and potentially Self as a Self-Actualizing Person. Coping Coping is defined in the present study in its broadest sense as any manner (effective or ineffective) of responding or reacting to a role conflict situation. Coping can occur on intrapsychic or psychological levels as well as on an interpersonal level. 11 Coping Strategies Coping strategies refer to behavioural descriptions of coping methods. The word "strategy" need not be taken to imply a process of careful planning and deliberation, since even impulsive responses or reactions to a conflict would be subsumed under the term "coping strategy." As Hall (1972) points out, "coping," in the strict sense of the term, refers only to the act of dealing interpersonally with the objective reality of a situation. Other methods such as altering one's feelings or perceptions in response to a situation are sometimes referred to as "defenses" (e.g. Haan, 1977). However, since the interest in the present study is in all of the ways that women deal with role conflict situations, in order to differentiate strategies in terms of effectiveness and ineffectiveness as judged by women experiencing them, the classification of coping strategies needs to include defenses as well as more active or interactive coping methods. Hindsight Strategies Hindsight strategies are coping behaviours identified by subjects in retrospect as preferable to behaviours that they actually utilized in specific role conflict situations. Hindsight strategies have been generated in the present study for situations where an individual describes herself as disappointed, upset or regretful about the way she actually handled a situation. For these incidents, subjects were asked to report how they would like to have handled the situation. Degree of Conf l i c t Degree of conf l ic t in the present context is defined in terms of the ratings assigned to conflict situations. Subjects are asked to rate the degree of conflict experienced on a seven-point scale from (1) no conflict to (7) high conflict. Effectiveness of Strategies The effectiveness of coping strategies is measured on a seven-point scale 12 from (1) not at all effective to (7) completely effective. Effectiveness ratings were obtained for coping strategies used in each of the conflict situations described by the subject. Demographic Characteristics The seven demographic characteristics to be measured in this study are defined briefly below. (1) Age For the age variable, subjects are asked to specify their year of birth. (It was assumed that subjects who were reluctant to "admit" their age might be less reluctant to give year of birth.) Age was obtained by subtracting the year of birth from 1982, the year the data were collected. (2) Marital Status For marital status, subjects were asked to indicate which of the following categories applied to them: Single, Married, Divorced, Separated, Widowed or Living with Partner. Since they were instructed to check all the categories that applied, decision rules were established to make categories mutually exclusive. The term "Living with Partner" was used for unmarried women only. Any subjects who indicated "Married" but not "Living with Partner" were classified as "Separated." Those who were divorced but remarried were classified as "Married." (3) Parental Status Parental status refers to the state of being a parent (Yes or No), and the number of children living at home in categories of Preschool, Elementary School, Secondary School and Other. (4) Educational Level Educational level is defined as the highest level of education/training successfully completed. 13 (5) Occupation Occupation was collected only for persons involved in paid employment. Unemployed subjects who were actively seeking work were asked to state the occupational field in which they were looking for work. (6) Employment Status Employment status involved the classification of subjects into Employed Full-time, Employed Part-time, Student Full-time, Student Part-time and Not Employed or Student. Since it was recognized that various combinations of employment and student roles might also occur (e.g. employed part-time and student part-time; employed full-time and student part-time; two part-time jobs), the possibility was left open to develop additional categories, depending on the frequency with which these combinations occurred. (7) Income Income is defined in three categories: (a) the subject's gross earned income in the past year (before deductions); (b) the gross earned income of the subject's spouse/partner in the past year (before deductions) and (c) the gross earned income of both spouses/partners combined. "Family income" as defined by this third category will provide an indicator of the couple's financial capacity for choosing certain options for coping with role conflicts. Hiring outside help in caring for children or the household would be examples of coping strategies which may be restricted to upper income groups. Data are also yielded in this study for two additional variables. Although analysis of these data is beyond the scope of the present study, they are listed below as potential variables for further analysis of data collected in the present study or for future research. Role Rating Two types of role ratings were collected in the present study. The first 14 of these is the subject's assessment of the extent to which she values each of her life roles in relation to her other roles. The second rating is the amount of t ime and energy she invests in activities related to each role. Both value and time/energy dimensions are rated on a seven-point scale from 0 to 7. A rating of 0 indicates that the role is not applicable in the woman's present lifestyle. On the role value scale, a rating of 1 means that a role is "not at all important" and 6 means "very important." On the time/energy scale, a rating of 1 denotes "no time or energy" and 6 means "most of my time and energy." Discrepancy of ratings refers to the extent to which differences exist in the ratings an individual assigns to a given role on value and time/energy scales. Both "positive" and "negative" discrepancies could be examined, i.e. role value greater than time/energy and time/energy greater than role value. Del imitat ion of the Study The present study was conducted using clients of the Women's Employment Project, Vancouver, B.C., a career counselling centre for women. The generalizability of the findings in this study is limited to women seeking career counselling who share common characteristics with the subjects in this sample. A summary of the significant demographic characteristics of the sample is provided in Chapter III. It is assumed that if other women seeking career counselling exhibit characteristics such as age, marital status, parental status and employment status which are similar to this sample, so might the conflicts they experience and the coping strategies they use reflect similar patterns. Characteristics of the subjects in this sample tend to support the assumption that the majority, if not all, of the subjects were working or seeking work out of economic necessity to support themselves and their families. It can thus be assumed that their pursuit of career counselling services was not to decide whether or not to have a career or seek employment, but what kind of career or employment to 15 seek and how to proceed with career plans, taking into consideration the demands of their other life roles, such as parent, partner and so on. Within the limits imposed by sample size and the number of incidents reported, it seems reasonable to assume that the role conflicts and coping strategies of women in this sample might be typical of those experienced by other women in similar positions. None of the research on role conflicts to date has involved the study of clients in a career counselling context. Since the range of potential role conflicts experienced by women seeking career counselling is virtually unlimited, the present study can be construed only as a first step, or starting point, in investigating these conflicts. The categories of conflict and coping which emerge from this study should be seen as providing a basis - and a vocabulary - for potential further investigation of role conflicts among clients of career counselling agencies. Justification of the Study The value of the present approach to investigating women's experience of role conflict is captured in the introduction to a book by Fransella and Frost (1977) entitled, On Being a Woman: A Review of Research on How Women See Themselves. There are many books now available about woman. She has been studied as a child, as a teenager, as a parent, as a wife, as a widow, as mentally sick, and much else besides. She has been studied as the writer of novels, as a character in novels, as a leader of men, as a general statistic, in fact, as an object. Our main purpose is to study woman as subject. To see what she has to say for herself rather than what others say about her. We are concerned with what it means to a woman to be a woman. . . Our second purpose is to make people aware of how uncommon it is to actually ask women what they think about themselves. . . We hope that anyone interested enough to read this will be encouraged to go out and make their own enquiries and so fill this gaping hole in our knowledge. (Fransella & Frost, 1977, pp. 9-10) One gaping hole which exists in the literature on role conflict is the absence of descriptive studies on women's experience of role conflict and their assessments 16 of the methods they use for dealing with these conflicts. Given the frequency of references to role conflict in literature on the psychology of women, it is surprising and unfortunate that no comprehensive model of any kind has yet been developed to classify types of role conflict. The most refined approach to the classification of conflict types has been in terms of particular role pairs in interrole conflict. In a study by Harrison and Minor (1978), for example, conflict type is defined by role pair, such that wife, worker and mother roles combine to form three types of role conflict: wife-worker conflicts, worker-mother conflicts, and mother-wife conflicts. Similarly, intrarole conflicts could be broken down by role in conflict, e.g. wife conflicts, worker conflicts, and mother conflicts. Although such labels may be useful in talking globally about role conflicts, much more refined descriptions are needed for any real understanding of the nature of role conflicts, and to provide a useful model for further research and applications. Hall (1972) has pioneered this form of model-building in a study of strategies used by married women in coping with role conflicts. Hall's model is the most detailed, comprehensive model of coping strategies which has been developed to date, and as Fransella and Frost (1977) suggest, it has been built based on women's perceptions of their own experience. Since the present study will also attempt to build a model of coping strategies, but in a manner which differs in some significant ways from Hall's approach, Hall's model is discussed in some detail in Chapter II. For the present purposes, it is important to note that one of the significant problems in Hall's approach to gathering information on coping strategies is that his questionnaire asked subjects to generalize about their own patterns of behaviour in conflict situations. Although the classification scheme developed by Hall (1972) makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of the process of coping with role conflict, developing a new model inductively from a collection of critical incidents (Flanagan, 1954) will very likely suggest new or alternate categories and enable a more precise description of behaviours associated with each type. The present study will also yield other useful information which is beyond the scope of Hall's studies, such as whether coping strategies differ for interrole and intrarole conflict, and whether different strategies are uncovered if single, divorced, separated and widowed women are also studied, as well as women who are unmarried but living with a partner. The two basic principles of the Critical Incident Technique described by Flanagan (1954) highlight the advantages of the technique as a means of developing classification schemes for various types of behaviour: (1) "Reporting of facts regarding behavior is preferable to the collection of interpretations, ratings and opinions based on general impressions" (p. 355); and (2) "Reporting should be limited to those behaviors which, according to competent observers, make a significant contribution to the activity [in question]" (p. 355). The "activities" being examined in the present instance are role conflicts and effective versus ineffective coping activity; the "competent observers" are the subjects assessing and describing their own behaviour. Having subjects report only recent and outstanding incidents will ensure that the incidents are well-remembered and that sufficient accurate detail is provided to enable the salient features of role conflict and the critical coping behaviours to be identified (Flanagan, 1954). The philosophical perspective which forms the basis for the present investigation is George Kelly's construct theory (1955, 1970). Fransella and Frost (1977) describe the usefulness of this approach to research in the psychology of women. "From the philosophical standpoint of construct theory, there are no facts in life. There are only individuals' interpretations of these facts. And the interpretations will depend on a set of construct dimensions that each individual possesses. Behaviours construed as aggressive may be seen by one woman as coming from a liberated human being, but by another as a fundamental negation of 18 womanhood. So the construct theorist tries to understand others by looking at life through their eyes" (p. 11). This study will examine role conflict and coping strategies through the eyes of women experiencing these conflicts. Both the critical incidents selected and the manner in which they are described should suggest certain key constructs, meanings and interpretations, that women apply in the assessment of their own conflicts and coping behaviours. By allowing women to "speak for themselves" and devising categories of role conflict and coping from descriptions and constructs used by the women themselves, it is hoped that the present study will point to fruitful directions for development of theory. In effect, the approach of the present study is to proceed as much as possible from a "blank state," that is, minimizing the number of assumptions applied to what the phenomena of role conflict and coping are all about. The descriptive categories which emerge from such an approach can then be compared to previous theoretical conceptions of the phenomena, as well as the findings of recent research studies. Results of this study will also have implications for counselling practice by providing a comprehensive description of counselling issues which are increasingly prevalent and important in the lives of women clients, and providing a point from which to begin to investigate and explore alternate counselling interventions. The case examples and classification schemes could also prove useful in the training of counsellors, as stimuli for examining the beliefs, values and assumptions that we bring to our work with female clients. 19 CHAPTER H REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE The subject of women and role conflict has gained increasing attention in recent years in both academic and popular literature. In the popular press, we find a proliferation of self-help articles and books for women on how to juggle multiple roles, usually focussed on managing a career in addition to other roles. Some examples of such writings are a recent book by Russell and Fitzgibbons (1982) entitled Career and Conflict: A Woman's Guide to Making Life Choices and Working Woman magazine. A related set of articles and books has appeared on the subject of role management for dual-career couples, providing tips on topics ranging from household to relationship to career and family management. A recent book by Hall and Hall (1979), The Two Career Couple, and two articles in the June 1984 issue of Ms. magazine, "The Two Career Couple and How They Do It" and "Commuter Marriage: The Toughest Alternative" are examples of recent popular writings on role conflict and coping from the perspective of the "working couple." There has also been a growing body of popular literature which examines the female role in more general terms and encourages women to break out of the constraints imposed by traditional expectations of self and others, such as The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence (Dowling, 1981) or Kiss Sleeping Beauty Goodbye: Breaking the Spell of Feminine Myths and Models (Kolbenschlag, 1979). Other writings analyse the changes in women's roles and implications of these changes for men, such as the recent special issue of Esquire magazine (June 1984), "A Celebration of the New American Woman: Professional, Lover, Competitor, Mother, Daughter, Activist, Partner." Other themes covered in popular writings related to role management include survival tactics on the job, how to be upwardly mobile and compete in traditionally male occupational fields, effective parenting, open marriage, enjoying being single, 20 and the mother-daughter relationship. In short, most of the literature providing advice to women on successful life management in some way touches on ways of effectively handling and making decisions about one or more life roles. Along with the abundance of advice for women is a growing body of academic research on women's roles and how they handle their multiple roles, especially associated with careers, and how they feel about or evaluate the strategies they employ. Theoretical writings and studies on the subject can be found in academic fields of counselling psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology, organizational psychology, sociology, anthropology and women's studies, as well as literature in fields of medicine and health on stress and lifestyle. Some of this array of research, mostly related to counselling psychology and social psychology, will be outlined in this chapter, but, as this review will also show, there are a great many questions which remain to be explored. This review of the literature will begin with a brief historical perspective on the evolution of the female sex role in Western culture, as a context for understanding the contemporary woman's experience of role conflict. The discussion which follows will summarize the ways which role conflict has been conceptualized or defined, the instruments which have been used to measure role conflict and coping, and the results of recent empirical studies. A survey of research on coping strategies will also be included, as well as evidence concerning the effectiveness of various coping strategies as judged by the women themselves. Socio-Cultura l Influences and the Female Sex Role One of the features which characterizes recent research on the psychology of women, as well as the theory and practice of feminist counselling, is a recognition of the impact of socio-cultural influences - including attitudes, beliefs, values and stereotypes - in shaping women's psychological development (Gilbert, 1980; Gilligan, 1982; Miller, 1976; Rawlings & Carter, 1977; Stanley & Wise, 1983; 21 Sturdivant, 1980). In setting out to investigate women's experience of role conflict, it will be helpful to view both the subjects to be studied, and the research itself, as operating within a socio-cultural and historical context. An understanding of this context will set the framework for an exploration of the conflicts women experience as well as the criteria they apply in evaluating their methods of coping with these conflicts. The Female Sex Role: A Historical Overview A number of authors have taken a historical approach to understanding the development of the female sex role (Armstrong & Armstrong, 1978; Fransella & Frost, 1977; Fullerton, 1972; Kolbenschlag, 1979; Trofimenkoff & Prentice, 1977). Since the present review will permit only a brief look at historical conditions which influenced the evolution of women's roles, the summary which follows will focus primarily on the overview provided by Fransella and Frost (1977) in their book, On Being a Woman: A Review of Research on How Women See Themselves. Fransella and Frost (1977) present a brief but illuminating discussion of the way in which the evolution of economic and family life has shaped the roles of women. As the economic structure of society changed, so did the nature of family life and the definition, meanings, and expectations of women's roles, particularly the roles of mother, "housewife" and worker. The authors begin with an analysis of socio-economic conditions and life in pre-capitalist societies. In pre-capitalist societies, such as feudal England, and in the early stages of capitalism, work and family life overlapped a good deal. The household was a basic unit of production. In other words, the home was a place of work. Roles were usually segregated by sex and age. But men, women and children all took part in the production of goods for exchange and for sale, as well as for immediate consumption by the family. There was no clear distinction between the role of worker and the role of family member. So it is unlikely that a woman was able to think of herself as 'housewife' or 'mother' instead of worker, since the two were not separate. Thus the kinds of conflicts and arguments that we have today would not have arisen. (Fransella & Frost, 1977, p. 16) With the advent of capitalist production and industrialization, a radical change occurred in the nature of work and family life, and the relationship between the two. The central place of work moved from the home to the factory, where labour power was exchanged for wages. The spheres of family life and "productive work" became separate. As Kolbenschlag (1979) points out, although a division of labour along gender lines is evident in most societies, past and present, industrialization exaggerated and radicalized the divisions between "men's work" and "women's work," men's roles and women's roles. At first, women as well as children did participate in work in the factories and farms; they were useful as a ready source of cheap labour. But, as increasing industrialization (the development of efficient "labour-saving devices") brought rising unemployment and lower wages, many women were forced out of paid employment into a new kind of dependency. For others, it became necessary to work for low wages to supplement their husbands' incomes. Fransella and Frost (1977) summarize the impact of industrialization in shifting the economic structure of society and devaluing the work of women. The crucial change was that work came to be defined as labour power which could be sold for a wage which, in turn, could buy other commodities necessary for the worker and his family. Work done in the home was increasingly restricted to the service and maintenance of the worker and producing children. And it was no longer seen as 'real' work. Long, hard, and often unpleasant but necessary domestic work could not be sold directly for a wage and so was, in a sense, devalued. At the same time, the family became more and more a private world to which people withdrew, (p. 17) With the new separation between work and family came a shift in the division of roles between the sexes. Man became the "breadwinner" and woman the "dependent" homemaker, whose responsibilities were now restricted to domestic work, children, and the private personal life of the family. Among the new middle classes or merchant classes, in particular, it became fashionable for the woman to remain at home as a sign that the husband was providing well for the family. For the working classes, there was often no choice; the wife had to work outside the home out of economic necessity. But the "life of leisure," for middle class women, was in many ways not an enviable position, as their new role significantly undermined their sense of personal power and self-esteem. "Being at home, as a housewife and mother purely, now had a new meaning. For it meant being non-productive, economically dependent, and isolated and apart from society" (Fransella & Frost, 1977, pp. 17-18). Fransella and Frost (1977) point out that views about the role of women in the work force tend to change over time according to "the interests of the state." During times of war, for example, women were needed to do the jobs that men were not available to do. In such times, governments often provided support for women working outside the home, such as free child care services and arranging work hours to suit the needs of women. But after the war, when jobs again became scarce, those services were withdrawn to make way for men to assume their previous responsibilities. What is apparent from these observations is that beliefs about "a woman's place" and the roles which are appropriate for women are rooted in social and economic systems. Historically, these systems have been designed to preserve the interests of government and industry, which happened to be dictated largely by the needs of men. "Only when there is demand for women's labour as, for example, in wartime, does a 'woman as worker' come to be seen as desirable and find its way into official ideology and practice" (Fransella & Frost, 1977, p. 18). The vantage point of history allows us the benefit of being able to step outside and examine social structures with some measure of detachment. A more difficult task is to understand the present social reality which serves to shape the definition of women's roles. Social structures which exist today are more difficult to identify since they form the environment in which we are immersed and generally take for granted. As Fransella and Frost (1977) point out: 24 One of the things that prevents women from seeing new possibilities is that many of the basic assumptions that people make about women's roles are not explicitly verbalized. . . It may be very difficult in practice to flout norms which are spoken, but it is much more difficult even to question norms which are not articulated at all. (p. 15) Factors Shaping Contemporary Attitudes Towards Women's Roles Contemporary ideology and values concerning the roles of women have been shaped by a number of developments, including (1) greater control of fertility and childbearing; (2) a drop in the infant mortality rate; (3) increasing life expectancy, declining birth rates, and a downward trend in the size of families; (4) the financial pressures of continuing inflation; (5) increasing separation and divorce rates; (6) greater access to education and job opportunities; and (7) the Women's Movement (Lewis, 1978; Pearson, 1979). These factors are described briefly below in terms of their impact, particularly on the career and family roles of women. Improved birth control methods have given women a much wider range of choices than ever before about whether and when to have children. The greater availability and efficiency of contraception has meant that more women can avoid becoming pregnant repeatedly during their fertile years. At the same time, medical advances have resulted in a drop in the infant mortality rate, making it unnecessary to produce so many children. A related trend has been a growing number of women and couples choosing not to have children and a decrease in average family size. An increase in life expectancy has also made important changes in the lives and roles of women. As childbearing and childrearing years now form a smaller proportion of a woman's lifespan, more time, energy and supports are available to women for the development of other abilities, interests and roles. The financial pressures of continuing inflation have pushed more and more married women into the paid workforce. Increasing separation and divorce rates have also prompted adult women to return to paid employment to support themselves and their families (Armstrong & Armstrong, 1978). These trends have resulted in women's increasing need for salaries which are higher than those available to them in traditional fields of clerical, sales and service occupations. Growing numbers of women are moving into professional and technical fields and a range of other occupations which have been traditionally dominated by men (Statistics Canada, 1983a). Women are taking advantage of a greater range of training and educational opportunities than ever before (Statistics Canada, 1983b; 1984a,b). Finally, the Women's Movement has had a profound effect on attitudes towards the roles of women, specifically in opening up alternatives to traditional lifestyles. The major concerns of the movement have been to break down the sex-typing of jobs; opening up job opportunities for women; fighting discrimination against women in terms of equal pay for equivalent work; and encouraging women to work outside the home (Lewis, 1978). Although the reaction of some to the injunctions of the Women's Movement has been to cling more firmly to their right to enjoy a traditional lifestyle, the outcome today, as feminist attitudes increasingly blend into the mainstream of popular culture, is the acceptance of a belief that having the choice is most important - above all, that a woman should be able to choose a lifestyle which is in keeping with her own set of values. As Barnett and Baruch (1978a) point out, "One need not necessarily endorse the values and goals of contemporary American culture to advocate that women be equipped to compete on its own terms if they so choose" (p. vii). Conceptions of Role Con f l i c t The conflicts faced by contemporary women as they struggle with the limitations of sex role stereotypes has been widely documented in the literature on the (career) psychology of women and the psychology of sex roles (e.g. Bardwick, 1971; Basow, 1980; Broverman, Vogel, Broverman, Clarkson & Rosenkrantz, 1972; 26 Farmer, 1978; Fitzgerald & Crites, 1980; Frieze et al, 1978; Heckerman, 1980; Horner, 1972; Williams, 1977). Research in these areas repeatedly makes reference to role conflict or "home-career conflict" as rooted in sex role expectations which stifle a woman's capacity to choose meaningful, fulfilling options for herself. Although the new cultural imperative seems to be that most women will combine marriage with a job or career (Williams, 1977), those who are successful in the world of work may be regarded as acting inappropriately in terms of their sex role. This conflict is seen as rooted in the incompatibility of qualities traditionally associated with the wife-mother role, such as nurturance, emotionality and people orientation and those associated with success in the professional world, such as aggressiveness and rationality (Stake, 1979b). Several studies have shown that women who do combine marriage, motherhood and career often experience guilt and anxiety and sometimes social disapproval (Centra, 1975; Holmstrom, 1971; Rapoport & Rapoport, 1971). Brodsky (1975) goes so far as to say that role conflict is inherent in sex role stereotypes, and that, in fact, many of the symptoms women bring to counselling and therapy can be understood as constrictions imposed by the female role. As outlined by Mahrer (1967) and Sturdivant (1980) such symptoms include, " 'feelings of being limited, anxious and angry, with strong feelings of personal and social inferiority'; the pain of an 'inability to determine things for oneself, being unable to set one's own goals'; distancing of oneself from one's own needs and feelings (engendered by women's orientation to pleasing others); and the 'pain and hurt' of arrested development and of being blocked in the growth process (Mahrer, 1967, p. 278)" (Sturdivant, 1980). Most of the research on role conflict in some way addresses the issue of expectations associated with the female sex role. For some, gender identity issues are described as the context for conflicts related to role management (e.g. Darley, 1976; Salwen, 1975). For others, sex role conflicts are viewed as one of the types 27 of role conflict, as distinct from other types (e.g. Nevill & Damico, 1975a,b, 1977, 1978). The sections which follow will outline the various ways that role conflict has been conceptualized or defined, firstly those which view role conflicts as a function of female sex role expectations, then others which focus more on the other psychological and practical problems of role management, including concepts of role overload, role strain and role discontinuity. Role Conflict as a Function of Sex Role Expectations The concepts of role conflict defined by Nevill and Damico (1975a,b, 1977, 1978) highlight both the psychological and practical problems of role management, as well as the influence of sex role expectations. For this reason, their concepts form a useful starting point and will also serve as a frame of reference for the subsequent discussion. Although the aspects of Nevill and Damico's definition related to sex role conflicts will be highlighted here in more detail, other aspects of their definition of role conflict pertaining to the psychological and practical problems of role management will be returned to in the following section. Nevill and Damico (1975a,b, 1977, 1978) present a very general definition of role conflict as "difficulty conforming to role expectations." A role is defined as a set of ideals or standards for a person behaving in a given capacity. Following Deutsch (1969), Nevill and Damico (1975b) identify two forms which role conflict can take: (1) interpersonal conflict and (2) intrapersonal conflict. Interpersonal conflict for Nevill and Damico, is an event which occurs between two or more persons, and arises primarily when there is a discrepancy between role expectations and role behaviour, and the individual deviates from an expected norm of behaviour for a given role. Intrapersonal conflict, by contrast, is seen as occurring within individuals, and arising in two types of situations: (1) when an individual is attempting to satisfy multiple sets of expectations, such as the employed mother attempting to be provider, nurturer and companion; and/or (2) during periods of social change, when role definitions are ambiguous and lack specificity, and the 28 individual is faced with a lack of congruence between expectations of the former role model and the emerging one. Although the authors do not articulate it as such, the two major types of role conflict which Nevill and Damico identify are based on a distinction between the psychological experience of conflict (intrapersonal conflict) and the event which occurs between two or more people (interpersonal conflict) when role expectations differ between individuals or when expectations are not met. The definitions of role conflict which most frequently appear elsewhere in the literature relate most closely to the two types of intrapersonal conflict which Nevill and Damico describe. Generally, "interpersonal conflict" would be seen as a possible product, symptom or manifestation of role conflict, as role conflict has generally been construed as a psychological experience, not an interpersonal event. Although conflicts experienced psychologically will often be "acted out" interpersonally in discussions, arguments, even physical fights, the acting out can perhaps more clearly be seen as a behavioural response to the experience of conflict rather than the conflict itself. According to Nevill and Damico (1978), particularly important among roles in defining the appropriate behaviour of individuals are sex roles, namely the prevailing images of how a male or a female should behave to be a "real man" or a "real woman," truly masculine or truly feminine. Such sex role standards are seen as heavily value-laden and specific to a societal context. Assuming clarity of role definitions, the expectations for one's behaviour - as male or as female r - would seem to be relatively straightforward and social pressure to conform to these standards assumed to be fairly great. Given ambiguity of sex role expectations, the experience of (intrapersonal) role conflict would be compounded and aggravated by the search to identify what these role expectations are and how to resolve the expectations which are contradictory. One example cited by Nevill and Damico (1978) where intrapersonal role 29 conflict may be most salient for women is in making vocational choices. Such conflicts arise from the start for women as they contemplate occupational choices, given the incompatibility of traditional feminine role expectations or characteristics (e.g. talkative, tactful, gentle) with the requirements of most professional occupational roles (e.g. persistence, aggressiveness, emotional attachment). Authors such as Farmer (1978) and Stake (1979) describe this kind of role conflict as a significant inhibiting influence on women's achievement motivation. Southall (1959) and Johnson and Johnson (1976) introduce the concept of role proliferation to highlight, in a similar way, the inherent incompatibility of role demands. Johnson and Johnson (1976) discuss the concept of role proliferation within a review of the literature on the transitional problems of women who aspire to high commitment careers. The term role proliferation (Southall, 1959) is defined as "a situation in which the individual encounters an accumulation of roles, rather than a transitional sequence from one role to another. . . an additive combination of disparate and dissociated roles, e.g. mother-housekeeper and chemist or full-time medical student and National Football League middle linebacker" (Johnson & Johnson, 1976, p. 15). According to Johnson and Johnson, role proliferation creates a problem due to the deep commitment required "to both role expectations which constantly pose competing concerns or demands." The fact that the competitive demands can in part be attributed to the female gender role is documented in their review of theories concerning gender identification and family organization, as well as the social psychological literature on women's roles and two-career families. Basow (1980) cites an empirical example from a study by Pines and Solomon (1978) which illustrates the double bind women face in choosing home and/or career. Researchers showed a videotape to a group of male and female college students depicting a competent, intelligent woman who had both a husband and a child. When the woman was portrayed as choosing to pursue a career in addition to her parenting and homemaking responsibilities, she was regarded as less feminine and less likeable 30 than if she stayed home. Yet when subjects viewed the scenario of the woman deciding not to work outside the home, she was judged to be less competent. This "no-win situation" would seem to require a woman to choose whether she wishes to be perceived as feminine and likeable (staying at home) or competent (work outside the home). Bardwick and Douvan (1971) similarly highlight the dilemma women confront, given that qualities needed for success in the work role are incompatible with those required for the family role. The very characteristics that make a woman most successful in family roles - the capacity to take pleasure in family-centered, repetitive activities, to sustain and support members of the family rather than pursuing her own goals, to enhance relationships through boundaryless empathy - these are all antithetical to success in the bounded, manipulative, competitive, rational and egocentric world of work. (p. 236) Under these circumstances, the working mother could choose to live with a "split personality" and a more challenging "masculine" occupation, or to resolve the conflict by opting for a more "feminine" occupation, where the characteristics demanded for the job more closely resemble her parent/homemaker qualities. The predominance of women in fields such as teaching, social work, nursing and secretarial work is seen by some authors (e.g. Bardwick & Douvan, 1971; Berger, 1977; Fodor, 1974; Kolbenschlag, 1979; Mead, 1949) as evidence of women resolving sex role conflicts by choosing types of work where "feminine" characterstics such as nurturance and empathy, are required and valued, and one's competence is measured in relation to these displayed qualities. It is no accident that the traditionally female types of work are also, like mothering and homemaking, the low-paying, low status occupations. Darley (1976) discusses the role conflicts experienced by working mothers in terms of the stresses of trying to maintain memberships in two separate reference groups, which operate according to very different standards and expectations. 31 The strains and insecurities associated with the combined role of wife/mother and career woman. . . derive in part from the tendency for people to make inferences about an individual's personality from his/her behavior. Whether or not a woman combining the two roles is aware of the inferences being made about her, she suffers the effects. If she is unaware of them, she is nonetheless likely to be derogated as a mother and thus treated less cordially by her neighbors, and also likely to be taken less seriously at work, in which case her performance on the job may actually be impaired. If though, as is often the case, she is aware of the kinds of inferences, i.e. personality judgments, that are being made about her, the self-doubt and internal tension she must sustain are further increased, (p. 91) Darley goes on to say, however, that it is generally only mothers who choose to work that receive the negative social sanctions. A woman who works to support her family out of economic necessity may be seen as virtuous, but if a woman works because she enjoys it, she is usually assumed to be somehow lacking in the womanly qualities that make for good wives and mothers. Salwen (1975) perceives role conflict essentially as a conflict between two sets of values. Conflict is defined as intrapsychic conflict, where one internalizes two wishes, impulses or images that are inconsistent with one another. Salwen (1975) describes the predicament which the "new woman" faces. On the one hand, the new woman holds traditional values, believing, as she was taught to believe, in the primacy of marriage and motherhood; on the other hand, she is exhorted, through the Women's Movement, to the obligations and rewards of independence and fulfillment through meaningful work. Faced with a sense that the traditional role is not enough, yet uncertainty about the untried and untested new values, Salwen says, the new woman is likely to be inhibited in her action, guilty over the actions she does take, and in dread of her future. Such women she regards, not as isolated neurotics, but rather as healthy women who are genuinely struggling with contradictory injunctions during a time of real societal change. The women, for example, who have followed the traditional marriage and parenting route "are the ones who were caught in the 32 change, having become what they were raised to be, only to be told and shown by the Movement that such a role would lead to unhappiness" (Salwen, 1975, p. 431). But those who break from the traditional pattern also face ambivalence. In the absence of acceptable role models, the non-traditional woman may fear that, in her steps toward autonomy, she will become more "like a man" (i.e. more insensitive, dominating, calculating, competitive or self-serving, contrasting the traditionally "feminine" side of these polarities). Being "more like a man" presumably means being less likable or lovable, and therefore lonely and isolated, or even ostracized. Salwen (1975) cites an example of a non-traditional woman who experienced such a role conflict. One woman, a lady carpenter, was very upset one evening by the arrival of some old friends. Since she had seen these friends last, she had become more of a talker and less of a listener. Moreover, she really wanted to tell them to leave after a short while because she wanted to use the evening to plan for a building project she was to begin the next morning. These wishes were less than conscious to her, so upon their arrival, she took no action but only knew she was unexplainedly depressed to see her old friends. She could not become fully conscious of, and act upon, her wishes, because she really felt that to do so would be to behave selfishly and like a man. (p. 431) We can understand this example, from Salwen's perspective, as a conflict between old and new sex role expectations. Her former "womanly" role was to be more of a listener, with fewer strong interests of her own, to take less initiative and to be more "sociable." This type of role conflict would be conceptualized, in Nevill and Damico's (1975b) terms as intrapersonal conflict of the second type, a lack of congruence between expectations of the former role model and the emerging one. Alternatively, we could view it as an individual attempting to satisfy multiple sets of expectations (Nevill and Damico's first type of intrapersonal conflict) - the expectations, in this case, being her own and her friends'. Her friends expect her to fulfill her former friend role (also consistent with her former sex or gender role). She expects, in her current carpenter (work) role, to plan for her building project. Yet in her ("feminine") friend role, she expects herself to be quiet about her own wants and not to disappoint her friends. Sturdivant (1980) would interpret the carpenter's conflict as an inevitable result of her striving, through a natural tendency to want to utilize her talents, to develop her potential, in a social environment where, in many ways, such behaviour is still viewed as unacceptable for women. If neurosis is defined as a 'compulsive' drive to satisfy contradictory needs or attitudes, then neurosis is inevitable for women who seek self-actualization outside the traditional female role. Thus anxiety and/or neurotic conflicts in women may be interpreted as being due to conflict between social pressures to fill the stereotyped female role and their own natural tendency toward realization of their full human potential, (p. 122) The only way a woman can succeed in a non-traditional occupational role and not be the object of criticism and questioning, according to Sturdivant (1980) is to do so in addition to fulfilling traditional expectations. Mannes (1963) succinctly describes the irony, and some of the absurdity, of this situation: "Nobody objects to a woman's being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, a good mother, good looking, good tempered, well dressed, well groomed, and unaggressive" (p. 123). A related but different realm where role conflict has been addressed is in the psychology of women in sports. As Harris (1979) points out, the low participation rate and the high dropout rate of women in competitive sports can be partially attributed to the perceived dissonance or disparity inherent in the traditional conceptions of femininity and altheticism. A central factor in this problem for women, as seen by Harris, is the female's relentless pursuit of male approval. "Many theorists working with the psychology of women feel that the status of the female can be explained not as in the nature of the female but as a manifestation of the male ego. Males have traditionally defined the concept of femininity and have emphasized the importance of the feminine image. A girl's desire and motivation 34 for competitive experiences in sports may be totally stifled by male disapproval, either directly or indirectly. From an early age girls are taught to direct their behavior toward pleasing the male; it frequently seems that the only attitude of competitiveness that they are permitted is toward other females for the position of favor from males. In short, the female's identity is related to her role and relationship to the male" (p. 197). We can thus see that the woman who aspires to success in competitive sports is likely to experience role conflicts associated with her choice of a non-traditional role. Women who defy tradition in their affectional/sexual preference and lifestyle have also been subjects for research in recent literature on role conflict (Shachar & Gilbert, 1983). The lesbian in the workplace is likely to experience many of the stigmas associated with nonconformity to traditional role expectations. Being heterosexual typically is not considered relevant to career competency and qualifications. Being homosexual, on the other hand, can become an issue, whether covert or overt, once it is known. Thus, although working lesbians engage in the same roles as heterosexual women, because of the negative social status ascribed to homosexuality, they may face unique conflict situations in the work environment (Shachar & Gilbert, 1983, p. 244-245). To summarize the impact of sex role conditioning on female vocational aspirations and role conflicts, Bardwick and Douvan (1971) describe the inescapable bind which all women today must confront: Frustration is freely available to today's woman: if she participates fully in some professional capacity, she runs the risk of being atypical and non-feminine. If she does not achieve the traditional role she is likely to feel unfulfilled as a person, as a woman. If she undertakes both roles, she is likely to be uncertain about whether she is doing either very well. If she undertakes only the traditional role, she is likely to feel frustrated as an able individual. Most difficult of all, the norms of what is acceptable, desirable, or preferable are no longer clear. As a result, it is more difficult to achieve a feminine (or masculine) identity, to achieve self-esteem because one is not certain when one has succeeded. When norms are no longer clear, then not only the 'masculine' achieving woman but also the non-working traditionally 'feminine' woman can 35 feel anxious about her normalcy, her fulfillment, (p. 238) Role conflicts associated with the "inevitable ambivalence of womanhood" can be seen as laying the groundwork and setting the stage for the myriad of other psychological as well as practical problems which emerge for women as they attempt to handle multiple roles. Role Conflict as Psychological and Practical Problems of Role Management After Gross, Mason and McEachern (1958) and Kahn et al (1964), Sales (1978) defines role conflict as "any situation in which incompatible expectations are placed on a person because of position membership." Sales (1978) describes this situation in terms of the discomfort of being forced to disappoint others in some way. [Role conflict] creates difficulty for people because it inevitably forces them to violate someone's expectations for them, either by (1) choosing to comply fully with one set of expectations while ignoring others; (2) by seeking a compromise whereby they conform to only a part of each set of expectations; or (3) by avoiding choice through escaping from the situation (Biddle & Thomas, 1966) (p. 159). This definition is virtually synonymous with Nevill and Damico's (1975a,b, 1977, 1978) "interpersonal conflict." The only difference is that, for Nevill and Damico, the conflict arises as a result of a person deviating from an expected norm of behaviour for a given role, whereas for Sales (1978), the conflict situation is one of anticipating having to disappoint someone. Both place the "locus" of the conflict in the interpersonal arena, rather than "within the self." As we examine these definitions more closely, however, a further ambiguity arises. The first kind of "intrapersonal conflict" described by Nevill and Damico seems to be the "inner experience of conflict" which occurs concurrent with the "interpersonal conflict," when an individual is attempting to satisfy multiple sets of expectations, such as the employed mother attempting to be provider, nurturer and companion. It would seem that every role conflict has both an interpersonal and an intrapersonal 36 dimension. The conflict is experienced in some way "within the self" and interactively with others. The distinction which Nevill and Damico make between intrapersonal and interpersonal "types" of conflict may be a misleading or artificial one. If we return to the individual's experience of a conflict situation, both elements could be seen as given structurally as part of the conflict. The concept of role overload introduces yet another angle on the phenomenon of role conflict. The term "role overload" has generally been used to refer to situations where the role demands are not inherently contradictory, but rather result from the logistical problems of allocating time and energy when one is managing a complex repertoire of roles (Bernard, 1975; Hoffman & Nye, 1974; Sales, 1978). The most often described candidates for role overload are married women (particularly professionals) with children who also work outside the home (e.g. Astin, 1969; Clark, 1976; Epstein, 1973; Gray, 1980a; Heins, Martindale, Stein & Jacobs, 1977; Rossi, 1967). The concept of role strain, defined by Goode (1960) as "felt difficulty in meeting role demands" is very similar to what Sales (1978) refers to as "role overload" (and what others, such as Nevill and Damico, define as "role conflict"). Difficulty in meeting role demands is seen by Goode as a normal problem of managing a diversity of role relationships and obligations. The central issue is seen as finding a way of making one's whole role system manageable and how to apply one's energies and skills to reduce role strain to some bearable proportions. One consequence of role overload is that many women find their careers restricted by family responsibilities (Gray, 1980a). Sometimes, taking time out for the birth of children can result in career setbacks (Rossi, 1967). Elsewhere, Paloma and Garland (1971a,b) highlight the difficulties experienced by a married woman with children in competing with male colleagues who are not burdened with such a diversity of role demands. Problems of role overload are seen by some authors (Astin, 1969; Bernard, 1975b; Clark, 1976; Heins et al, 1977; Rapoport & Rapoport, 37 1969) as arising for married women largely due to the fact that homemaking and childrearing responsibilities generally are still considered to be the wife's duty. The disadvantage this places upon women is described by Reuther (1977): When women gain the right to enter a profession, it is still very hard for them to compete with men on an equal footing, since they are also presumed to be in charge of [the] domestic support system. Even the childless or unmarried woman is handicapped in relation to a married male on the job who has a wife who cleans his house, cooks, shops, and plans the household, thus freeing the man for full-time attention to the 'job'. In this system woman's work remains invisible and unpaid. It is this double bind that is the primary reason why so few women have been able to take advantage of work opportunities even when, theoretically, they are open to them in industrial societies, (p. 71) The working mother faces the strain of essentially holding down two jobs - one inside and one outside the home (Basow, 1980). The inevitable role strains which arise in this situation are aggravated by the lack of institutional support for women who attempt to handle multiple roles. As Rohrbaugh (1979) points out, "In spite of the general encouragement for (or tolerance of) women working outside the home, there are few institutional supports for this role change. Even if she has the ideal personality [and competencies] for a given job, a working mother still has difficulty arranging for child care, food preparation, laundry and other homemaking tasks" (p. 173). In addition to the career restrictions caused by factors such as limited time, other "practical problems" of role conflict which can arise for the married professional woman are those associated with the often-assumed primacy of the husband's career and geographical limitations (Gray, 1980b). Such problems experienced by dual career couples - for example, the question of choosing a geographical residence, taking into consideration the career opportunities for both partners - have received increasing research attention (Bernard, 1975a,b; Holmstrom, 1971; Wallston, Foster & Berger, 1978). Another way of conceptualizing or defining role conflict has been put forward 38 by Douglas T. Hall (1972). Hall views roles and role conflict in the context of a model of role identity, described by Levinson (1959). This perspective incorporates both the psychological and practical problems referred to in the definitions of role conflict described earlier, and offers a way of incorporating both the intrapersonal and interpersonal dimensions of role conflict (viewed as "types" of role conflict by Nevill and Damico). Another reason for examining Hall's definition of role conflict in some detail is the fact that Hall's model of coping with role conflict (Hall, 1972) has been widely quoted and the subject of a great deal of subsequent empirical research. Few authors, if any, have offered any critique of either Hall's definition of role conflict or his method of researching women's experiences of role conflict. His model of coping strategies has received all of the attention (e.g. Gray, 1980b; Harrison & Minor, 1978; Shachar & Gilbert, 1983). The following section will review Hall's concepts of role and role conflict and examine them from a number of vantage points. The concepts of role-making and role-taking described by Stanley and Wise (1983) are summarized as a way of critiquing Hall's concepts and gaining further insight into the nature of roles and role conflict. The views put forward by Stanley and Wise (1983) are also useful in reconciling some of the apparently contradictory or ambiguous elements of the preceding definitions, specifically concerning the "locus" of the conflict ("within" the person or between persons), the place of sex role expectations in role conflict, and how the individual's perception of the conflict and situational factors influence the experience of role conflict. Hall's model begins with a definition of career as a person's changing identity over time. Identity is defined as a person's perception of self as related to his or her environment. The term subidentity is used to refer to that aspect of the total identity engaged when a person is behaving in a given role. A married woman, for example, may typically have subidentities of wife, mother, homemaker and employee. These subidentities may overlap to varying 39 extents, and the central area which they all have in common is called the core identity. Individuals will vary in the degree to which subidentities overlap (size of the core) and the degree to which subidentities are congruent with roles. Following Levinson (1959), Hall defines role as a process consisting of three components related to a person in a given social position: (1) structurally given demands, which are the norms, expectations, taboos, responsibilities and sets of pressures and facilitating factors that channel, guide, impede or support a person's functioning in a position; (2) personal role conception, which is one's inner definition of what someone in a given social position is supposed to think, feel and do; and (3) role behaviour, which is the way in which members of a position act (with or without conscious intention) in accord with or in violation of a given set of organizational norms.. The manner in which these three components interact to comprise the role process is described by Hall (1972): "The role process then consists of a set of structural demands being placed upon the individual in a given social position. On the basis of both one's perception of these demands and one's own personality, a person formulates a definition of what demands he or she should try to meet in his position. Based upon this personal definition she decides how to behave (p. 473)." In breaking down role conflict into subcategories, a fundamental distinction made by Hall (1972) and others (e.g. Holahan & Gilbert, 1979b) is between interrole and intrarole conflict. Interrole conflict, or conflict between roles, is defined as the experience of anxiety or tension when the demands of two (or more) roles conflict with one another. Intrarole conflict or conflict within a role, occurs when the way that an individual defines the expectations of a particular role differs from either what is realistic for the person in that role or how others define that role. Due to the fact that women are often in a position of juggling a number of different subidentities, they are often in a predicament Hall (1972) describes 40 as chronic role conf l ict , where they experience a number of mutually competing demands from role senders (people who communicate role expectations). The competing demands most often are between different roles (interrole conflict) rather than within a role (intrarole conflict); for example, a woman is more likely to experience conflict between her employer's expectations and her children's, than, say, within a set of expectations her children have of her. One of the factors most frequently cited to account for the conflict is insufficient time to meet all role demands - a situation described as role overload. One of the difficulties with Hall's conceptions of role and role conflict is that people are described in very reactive terms, the external demands come first, then one's feelings and reactions to the demands, then a response to the demands in behaviour. It ignores the fact that we are also proactive in making choices about roles (such as partner and career roles), and we have ideals and principles that we apply in making role choices (even though a clear conception of a given relationship or role would usually evolve only through experience and interaction). Stanley and Wise (1983) offer a distinction between role-making and role-taking which will be useful to examine in contrast to Hall's (1972) description of the role process. From their perspective, Hall's notion would be seen as akin to "role-taking" approaches put forward in conventional role theory (e.g. Frankenberg, 1966). The "role-taking" view of social reality is described by Stanley and Wise (1983): [In the 'role-taking' approach,] role is seen in functionalist terms and this approach is frequently referred to as role theory. Role theory, like functionalism, describes a determinate reality in which absolute order exists and prediction is possible. It believes that role content is generally agreed upon and that this content is internalized and then enacted. And role theory goes further than this, for it has been argued that people are the roles they inhabit (Frankenberg, 1966). Such arguments suggest that no distinction exists between 'self and 'roles', because those roles combine to 'make up' the person, (pp. 101-102) 41 Stanley and Wise (1983) caution against this "role-taking" approach to gender roles, as if role expectations were imprinted then followed. This view is seen as simplistic and overdeterministic. "Role-making," on the other hand, emphasizes the importance of situations, personality and context in influencing events and behaviours. Such an approach is related conceptually to George Kelly's construct theory (Kelly, 1955, 1970). Stanley and Wise (1983) describe the "role-making" approach. This approach doesn't see the 'role' as anything which is 'internalized'; nor does it accept that any consensus about 'role content' exists, apart from a few specific exceptions. Instead it sees 'role' as something which can be constructed and analysed only after the event. Only after something has happened can we know what has happened, and even then 'what has happened' may seem very different to the various participants within it. (p. 101) This role-making approach is appealing as it allows for individual variations and views humans as active in making role choices. However, it also raises the question of how to understand women's conflicts associated with the female gender role, for example, the notion so often put forward (e.g. Horner, 1972) that women have "internalized" societal injunctions about appropriate female role behaviour. Stanley and Wise (1983) offer a useful viewpoint on this question, drawing on the research of Komarovsky (1973) on role strains which men experience, based on role obligations of the male gender role. We believe that 'roles' aren't internalized, do not 'become' the self. Instead we argue that the clusters of norms, attributes and so on that are referred to as 'gender' exist and are related to as stereotypes - as simplistic and stereotypical representations which people relate to in a myriad of ways. These are not, in themselves, 'reality' as people experience it; they are but one facet of what people construe this as. (pp. 103-104) An example of such a stereotype for women would be visions of the ideal wife and mother, the traditional dream of the blissful world of marriage and 42 motherhood. This dream is captured in a quote from Maggie Tripp (1974), "The American ideal was to catch a man before you were too old, say twenty-two, and to take a deep breath, disappear into a suburban ranch house and not come up for air until your children ('a boy for you a girl for me') were safely married" (p. 53). Stanley and Wise (1983) elsewhere elaborate on the notion that structures of social reality for women, embedded in what we usually refer to as "roles," are ultimately dependent on the individual's perception of herself and the demands placed upon her, and these will vary from situation to situation. This notion has important implications for women's experience of "role conflict." The main point we want to emphasize here is that what we often construe as fixed and immutable, gender socialized hi someone, should rather be seen as situatiqnally variable (p. 105). . . 'Structures' aren't inherently anything. . . what relationships are like depends on the people involved in them. What may be totally liberating for one person may be totally the opposite for someone else. And what may liberate at one point in a person's life may come to be seen differently at another, (p. 75) This suggests that what is experienced as conflict for one person may not even be construed as such by another. Stanley and Wise also use this viewpoint to argue that some feminist writings have gone too far and oversimplified the situation by arguing that "the family" as an institution or social structure is responsible for the oppression of women. One cannot deny the fact that women experience "oppression" differently, and thus one cannot assert that there are "real" conditions of oppression outside of the experience and understanding of individuals or groups of women. If we aren't feminists, then we experience expressions of sexism as mundane and routine - they aren't "expressions of sexism" unless we construct them as such. They are instead part of the ordinary ongoing activities of our everyday experience. An example concerns the opening of doors for other people. This might be simple politeness or an expression of sexism. Which it is will depend on a number of things, including who opens the door for whom, and how we attribute their motives for doing so. In other words, what this behaviour 'is' depends on our construction of it. (Stanley & Wise, 1983, p. 132) 43 Thus they argue that the most valuable approach to researching women is to be concerned with exploring in great detail why and how people construct realities in the way that they do. Conflict, for Stanley and Wise (1983), arises when people construct reality differently. "Alternative constructions of reality. . . lead to differences, to conflicts, in negotiating everyday life" (p. 132). Role Transitions and Role Discontinuity One final concept which will prove useful in investigating women's experience of role conflict is the notion of role discontinuity (Benedict, 1938; Sales, 1978). This concept is used to describe the conflicts associated with role transitions. Sales (1978) summarizes the way in which role discontinuity comes about for women. Social scientists who attempt to study women's adult roles over time must contend with complex role patternings that have little parallel for men (Ginzberg, 1966; Maas & Kuypers, 1974). . . These shifting role demands require continued adjustments for women. At each transition point, they have to learn new behaviors that must be meshed with other pre-existing role obligations. . . If the expectations of a new role are incompatible with the expectations of a previous role, an individual experiences stress in making the transition. This stress is called role discontinuity. (Benedict, 1938) (p. 160) One source of stress which can compound the problem is when people in one's social network refuse to acknowledge or accept a change. Examples of such difficulties are when parents continue to expect compliance from their adult children, the newly weds whose friends resent their decreased socializing, or new parents whose friends cannot understand their new reluctance to make social engagements. Because of the major shift in their role commitments over time, women tend to experience role discontinuity more frequently than men. Sales (1978) illustrates the difficulty of some of these transition points: After marriage, a woman usually takes on a larger portion of household duties. If she has a child, she is plunged into a new role that demands skills and efforts for which most women are unprepared. At later points of her life, such events as job re-entry, the end of her mother role as children leave 44 home, and widowhood may force a woman to radically reorganize her life. Less dramatic changes in role performance are required as children develop and role involvements shift over time, (pp. 161-162) As Sales (1978) notes, what may be particularly difficult are the role transitions which result in the loss of a valued role, more so than situations where a new role is added to an otherwise stable role repertoire. In leaving a job to raise a child, for example, one would experience loss of both the satisfactions of work and the social contact. In cases where the role loss is imposed by external factors, rather than individual choice, the stress is heightened. Women confront a number of. . . losses in later adulthood when their parent role atrophies as their children leave, or the death of their husband terminates their marriage role (Bernard, 1975b; Lopata, 1973). These transitions are painful for many women because they may demand major readjustments in living patterns that have been prime sources of gratification during most of their adult life. (Sales, 1978, pp. 162-163) Sales (1978) is but one example among a number of authors interested in developmental approaches which examine women's role transitions over the lifespan (e.g. Alpert, 1981; Richardson, 1981; Rossi, 1980; Van Dusen & Sheldon, 1976). Authors such as Richardson (1981) and Alpert (1981) have offered theoretical frameworks which can be applied to future research studies. Avery (1979) is in process of coordinating a large-scale research project investigating the critical events in women's lives. Such perspectives have the potential for making a valuable contribution to our understanding of women's experience of role conflict. Although an in-depth examination of life stage factors is beyond the scope of the present study, some of the research which looks at women's conflicts in relation to age or life stage will be outlined in the upcoming section on "Empirical Studies of Role Conflict and Variables Related to Role Strains." A growing number of empirical studies have been conducted in recent years to investigate women's experience of role conflict and the variables related to 45 role strains. The section which follows will outline some of the approaches which have been taken to research based on the preceding definitions of role conflict. Empirical Studies of Role Conflict Research on Sex Role Conflicts The empirical studies described in this section are intended to provide only a brief illustration of some of the approaches which have been taken to studying, operationalizing or measuring sex role conflicts. Related studies are abundant in the social psychological literature on women and gender roles (e.g. Frieze et al, 1978). One example of a research study which has been conducted based on a definition of role conflicts as "sex role conflicts" is a study by Powell and Reznikoff (1976), where the experience of (sex) role conflict is assumed to be the result of the discrepancy between personal needs, such as the need for achievement, and cultural role expectations (e.g. cultural injunctions such as "a woman is supposed to put others' needs first"). Powell and Reznikoff measured the sex role orientation of their subjects on a continuum from Self, or contemporary, sex role orientation to Other, or traditional, sex role orientation, using the revised Fand Inventory. The degree of conflict subjects experienced was inferred based on the relationship between scores on sex role orientation (Self or Other orientation), a Need for Achievement scale, and a measure of psychiatric impairment. One set of characteristics which seemed to predispose women to psychological distress (role conflict) was a combination of high Self orientation and high need for achievement. This combination of characteristics is less socially acceptable for women, whereas for men, being self-directed and ambitious is not only tolerated but encouraged. Another example of a study which construes role conflict in terms of sex role conflicts is an investigation by Beckman (1978) of sex role conflict in alcoholic women. In her study, women were measured on scales of masculinity-femininity 46 (using the femininity scale of the California Psychological Inventory and the Bern Sex Role Inventory) and in terms of performance on sentence completion and drawing tasks. Sex role conflict was inferred from the discovery of patterns of "unconscious masculinity-conscious femininity." For Beckman, similar to Powell and Reznikoff (1976), the concept of role conflict stresses a discrepancy between personal (albeit unconscious) needs or wants and the cultural role expectations associated with being female in our society. Davidson (1978) studied role strains experienced by women medical students by analysing the case records of 25 such women who sought psychiatric consultation at a medical college clinic. Davidson defines role strain as "the built-in conflict that results from the woman's having to choose between the demands placed on her by her profession and those that stem from her obligations as a woman/mother/wife and from her identity as a female" (p. 903). Role strain was considered to be present when part of the psychiatric problem presented was conflict about her functioning as a woman, mother or wife as she pursued medical education. The majority of problems women medical students brought to the psychiatric service were associated with role stress (rather than academic difficulties, for example). First and second-year students used the service three times more often than those at later career stages, consistent with previous research which showed that role identity-career conflicts emerge early in women training for non-traditional occupations. A frequent complaint of the married women students in Davidson's study, particularly those in dual-career marriages, was marital dysfunction and a loss of interest in their partner. Married women who had sexual relationships with classmates, residents and/or attending staff were particularly vulnerable to anxiety and guilty depressions, although when such relationships went well, the women tended to feel stable and secure. It was when such sexual relationships ended, according to Davidson, that these women would "collapse." Davidson also found examples of "sexual role stress" which would seem to 47 arise due to the vulnerability of being female and presumably unwanted in what is still seen as a "male" profession. Some male residents and attending staff are exquisitely sensitive to the sexual vulnerability of this type of woman - they bait a woman student with teasing and unflattering remarks about her 'real' femininity and then actively move to involve her in a sexual relationship. In a variation of this manuever the male physician 'courts' the woman student by saying she is far more attractive and sensual than the run-of-the-mill woman medical student - what is she doing in medical school anyhow, with all her sexual charm and attraction? (Davidson, 1978, p. 906). A related dilemma which Davidson found in some of the women medical students was a "sudden" desire to become pregnant at a point when the timing or life situation did not seem right. Although recognizing that the issues of whether and when to have children are real ones for professional women, Davidson found that the "sudden" urge was often evidence of the woman's need "to reassert her womanhood in response to some bludgeoning she has received in the environment" (p. 906). Another study (Roeske 3c Lake, 1977) investigated the role conflicts experienced by women medical students through a questionnaire inquiring about personal and family characteristics, their career aspirations, and whether and when they planned to have children and what importance, if any, they attributed to having female physicians as instructors and role models. The authors found that the first and second year students, in particular, were acutely aware of an identity crisis as a woman. This concern related both to the anomaly of being a woman in a male-dominated profession and whether it would be possible to effectively combine a demanding career with family roles. There appeared to be a sequence of three specific conflicts which women addressed over the course of their training: (1) whether a woman must possess the traditional characteristics of masculinity in order to become a physician; (2) whether the woman has sufficient knowledge and skill to function as a physician; 48 and (3) whether physician and mother roles can be effectively combined. Roeske and Lake concluded from the questionnaire results that the women medical students apparently preferred to resolve the first two "identity crises" first before contending with the conflict between profession and motherhood, and that this seemed to be related to their desire to excel in each role. Female role models were seen as having a potentially valuable role to play in helping women with some of these adjustments. Finally, Fodor (1974) presents an illuminating discussion of sex role conflicts which women bring to behaviour therapy, covering a range of symptoms from achievement-related conflicts, such as work blocks, phobias and anxiety attacks, to depression, sexual problems and delinquency. The behaviour therapy interventions which Fodor describes are based on an understanding of these symptoms in terms of the fundamental dilemma described by Broverman et al (1970): "the conflict of having to decide whether to exhibit positive traits considered desirable for men and adults and have femininity questioned or to behave in the prescribed feminine manner and accept second class adult status" (Fodor, 1974, p. 6). The symptoms which the women exhibited can be construed as ineffective ways of coping with sex role conflicts, and behaviour therapy is clearly one way of helping women to "integrate behavioural polarities" when exaggerated adherence to sex role stereotypes blocks them from healthy development and effective management of life roles. Studies of Role Conflict and Variables Related to Role Strains Rather than focussing exclusively on women's experiences of conflict and/or how they cope with these conflicts, most researchers have also investigated variables which might be related to role strains (e.g. Holahan & Gilbert, 1979a,b; Stake, 1979b). What these studies have in common is a focus on one or more of the supportive or inhibiting factors which can affect either (1) the type and degree of role strain that individuals experience, or (2) their ability to cope effectively with the strains they do encounter. Many of these factors fall into the categories 49 of social resources and psychological resources, as defined by Pearlin and Schooler (1978). Some early studies (Bailyn, 1972; Rostow, 1965) focussed on the importance of strong cooperative links between partners in dual-career families. Astin (1969) demonstrated the importance of support of significant others for women to successfully undertake ambitious careers. Kaley (1970) looked at the attitudes toward married professional women which are held by women's professional associates, and gained evidence to suggest that such attitudes may be a significant barrier to women's resolution of career-related conflicts. Bailyn (1963) widens this scope even further in examining the impact of the attitudes of neighbours, one's husband's colleagues, and the parents of one's children's friends. Hall and Gordon (1973) looked at the levels of conflict and satisfaction that women experience in their life roles as a function of actual versus preferred "career status." "Career status" or career choice is defined by Hall and Gordon in three categories: full-time homemaking, part-time employed, and full-time employed. The authors hypothesized that women performing activities they choose to perform would be more satisfied than women whose roles did not match their preferences. This hypothesis was supported by findings showing that a woman's role performance and attitudes are less positive if she works out of economic necessity rather than by choice. When preferred work activities matched present work activities, subjects showed the greatest satisfaction. A number of other trends were evident in Hall and Gordon's results. Although more women expressed a preference for part-time work than any other category, those preferring and doing part-time work had lower satisfaction than those in other categories. They tended to have the greatest number of salient roles and more home-related conflicts than others. Working women generally experienced more conflict than housewives, particularly in the non-home arena. Despite the fact that women working full-time experienced more time conflicts than the other 50 two groups, they also experienced significantly greater satisfaction. Housewives, who had the fewest salient roles, had a relatively high incidence of self-related conflict. For all groups, home pressures were the most important contributors to experienced conflict. In a 1974 study, Gordon and Hall investigated the influence of women's perception of the male stereotype of femininity on their experience of role conflict. From the results of this study, they concluded that women who attributed to men less stereotyped views of femininity experienced significantly fewer conflicts than those who expected male disapproval due to a perceived incompatibility between femininity and employment. The woman's style of coping and satisfaction level was also shown to be related to her self-image, such that satisfaction and successful coping tended to coincide with a positive self-image. Hall (1975) examined the pressures from work, home and personal roles and the self-image of married women in relation to age and "stage of the life cycle" (Lopata, 1966). Life stage proved to be a stronger predictor of conflict than either age or number of roles. During the peak childrearing stage, women's work activity and pressures declined. As children grew older, work activity and pressures increased. Home-related pressures tended generally to increase over the life cycle. Hall was also able to reach some conclusions about the sources of conflict occurring at various life stages. Not surprisingly, the presence of children was the most significant influence on the nature of role pressures experienced by the women. The pattern of self-related pressures was a mirror-image of work pressures, reaching a maximum during the peak childrearing stage and dropping sharply in the "full-house plateau" (which starts when the youngest child enters school and ends when the first child leaves home). Hall concludes from this pattern that most work activities may also fulfill women's needs for self-expression. The number of roles performed and the presence of conflict tended to increase with each successive life stage. However, the number of roles had more impact 51 than did life stage on the presence or absence of conflict. Self-image was not related to either age, stage or number of roles, and therefore Hall concludes that the significant role changes that occur during the careers of married women do not appear to generalize to the woman's overall view of self. Although Hall's study (1975) indicates that role pressures seem to increase over the lifespan, he does not address the question of coping skills in his study, such that the evolution of these skills over the lifespan are also examined. The mere presence or absence of conflict is not, in itself, a sufficient indicator of experienced stress (McCubbin, Joy, Cauble, Comteau, Patterson & Needle, 1980). One's ability to cope with conflict or pressure is also likely to increase with each life stage. Holahan and Gilbert (1979a) looked at the relationship between the type and degree of interrole conflict experienced in dual career couples in relation to gender, parenthood, level of career aspirations, spouse's emotional support of career pursuits, and attitudes towards the roles of women. Their sample consisted of 28 couples, 10 without children and 18 with children, where both partners were employed in professional occupations. The role conflict questionnaire measured conflict between pairs of four different roles: Professional, Spouse, Parent and Self as a Self-Actualizing Person, for a total of six conflict categories. Each conflict category contained items in the form of problem statements, which subjects rated on a five-point scale ranging from 1 (causes no internal conflict) to 5 (causes high internal conflict). Other variables measured were attitudes towards women, self-esteem, life satisfaction from each major role, career commitment and demographic variables. To the authors' surprise, their predictions of gender differences in interrole conflict and the hypothesized correlations between these gender differences and other variables were not supported. However, one important exception was that for men, high level career aspirations were negatively related to role conflict, 52 whereas for women high level career aspirations were positively related to role conflict. Consistent with Hall's findings (1975), Holahan and Gilbert (1979a) found that the presence or absence of children factor had a critical influence on one's entire pattern of role conflicts. The fact that there were not more striking gender differences exhibited is attributed both to the particular strengths of the women studied and the environmental supports they received - a combination which unfortunately may be relatively rare in the population at large: It appears that the women in the present sample are placing a high priority on their careers and are involved in highly egalitarian marriages, in which their spouses are strongly supportive of their career goals and probably share in home management and child care. It is also possible that conflict for women is alleviated by assistance in home maintenance and child care from outside sources (Holahan & Gilbert, 1979a, p. 463). For other women in their sample, low spouse support, traditional sex role attitudes and low self-esteem were correlated with high degrees of conflict. In a second study using a similar role conflict questionnaire, Holahan and Gilbert (1979b) explored the differences in experienced conflict between women who considered their current employment as a job versus a career. All 41 of their subjects had bachelor's degrees, were employed full-time at a large university, were married, and had children. Holahan and Gilbert hypothesized that the greatest role conflict would be experienced by those who perceived their employment as careers, rather than jobs, due to the greater involvement and personal investment in career pursuits. They also expected that the career group would demonstrate higher self-esteem and agentic qualities, which have been shown in previous research to be factors in successful role management. Attitudes towards work and life satisfaction were also measured. Those who placed themselves in the "job" group tended to be employed in clerical positions, while those in the "career" category typically had jobs requiring more technical skill (e.g. systems analyst, editor, and lab technologist). As predicted, 53 the levels of work commitment and work aspiration were significantly higher for the career group. The career group also reported a higher degree of spouse support than those in the job group. Contrary to prediction, the job group reported more role conflict on all six role conflict scales. For two of the categories involving the Self role, these differences reached statistical significance: Parent vs. Self and Spouse vs. Self conflicts. The career group reported significantly more life satisfaction with all four roles than the job group. Holahan and Gilbert suggest that one implication of these findings may be that women who view their work as a "job" may be less willing than "career women" to relinquish the responsibilities and associated rewards of their roles as wives and mothers to undertake as many activities for their personal benefit. However, both groups tended to have high self-esteem; although career women demonstrated somewhat higher self-esteem than the job group, the difference was marginal. There were also no significant differences between groups in agentic qualities that would facilitate the management of multiple roles. The authors conclude that variations in spouse support, work commitment, and the nature of the job situation do seem to influence the level of role conflict experienced by married working women with children. In a related study, Stake (1979b) examined the relationships between role factors, self-estimates of competence and career commitment. Low self-esteem and conflicts concerning marriage and family versus career were expected to have an inhibiting influence on women's level of career commitment. Those with greater self-confidence as well as non-traditional sex role attitudes were presumed to be more able to assess options and set priorities, and thus choose workable, realistic goals. Self-estimates of competence (as measured by Stake's Performance Self-Esteem Scale) were expected to moderate the relationship between women's role factors and career commitment. Ability to resolve conflicts between home and career was not measured 54 directly by Stake, but rather was inferred from a combination of role factors, particularly levels of family and career commitment. If those with high self-esteem also proved to be those with high family and career involvement, they were assumed to have developed ability to resolve home-career conflicts. Those with families who had low career involvement and low self-esteem were inferred to have difficulty resolving conflicting demands of home and career. Stake found, as predicted, significant positive relationships between women's self-estimates of competence and (1) levels of career commitment; (2) (inferred) ability to deal effectively with role conflicts; and (3) non-traditional sex-role attitudes. Some of the significance of Stake's findings come to light as she compares the results of the female sample with those of an equivalent group of male subjects. The fact that no relationships were found in the male sample between level of career motivation and family factors suggests that it is only women who must struggle to combine the duties of home and career, as most men, even when both partners in a couple are working, do not assume major homemaking or child care responsibilities. As Stake points out, as long as we continue to assign women primary responsibility in the home arena, home-career conflicts will continue to be largely a "woman's problem." In a related study which focussed on external supports as a factor in career commitment, Tinsley and Faunce (1980) did a comparison of career and homemaker-oriented women and found that the variables which were most significantly related to degree of a woman's career orientation were enabling or situational factors. Family restraints or encouragements were strongly correlated with level of career involvement. This finding supports the results of previous studies which indicate that family/social supports can become critical factors in the resolution of career-family conflicts. One analogue study investigated women's role perceptions and role conflict using projective measures, where pictorial stimulus cues were used to elicit descriptions of imagined conflict (Richardson & Alpert, 1976; Alpert & Richardson, 1978). This approach views role perception as a variable related to expectations of conflict, which in turn is related to role choices, which in turn are related to role conflicts people actually experience once they have made role choices. Although such a study could be criticized for being several steps removed from directly measuring the phenomenon, it is worthy of mention as an alternative approach which has been taken to investigating role conflict. Using a variation of the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), Richardson and Alpert used pictorial stimuli of women in marriage, work and motherhood roles to measure the effect of role stimulus on subjects' degree of perceived role conflict. Subjects were asked to tell a story in response to each of the stimulus cues, and then the content of these stories was analysed for the presence of conflict. The marriage role cue presented a living room scene with a couple engaged in a conversation. The work role scene was a woman seated before a cluttered desk in an office, and the motherhood situation was a woman standing at a window while a young child reaches out to her in the background. Subjects were asked to describe what led up to the event, what was happening in the picture, and the outcome of the story. Stories were then coded for presence or absence of conflict, conflict themes and outcome (positive, negative, ambivalent or uncertain). From the results of this study, the authors conclude that the method tended to yield intrarole rather than interrole conflicts, as subjects seldom mentioned other roles in addition to the ones depicted. The mother-child image, however, did elicit some stories involving relationship with a male adult. The greatest amount of conflict was perceived in the marriage or male-female role, followed closely by the motherhood role. Work roles exhibited the least amount of conflict, which the authors attribute in part to the fact that their sample were highly educated women and, as graduate students, were perhaps less preoccupied with job-related conflicts. 56 Outcomes of the stories shed a different light on women's perceptions of their role conflict. The lowest number of positive outcomes were associated with conflicts in the mother role, where themes of passivity were prevalent. The mother role was thus viewed as the most problematic for these women. Although conflict was often apparent in the male-female relationship stories, they were often successfully resolved. Many of the work role conflicts were also successfully resolved, but there was also a relatively high number with negative or ambivalent outcomes. Internal blocks to achievement tended to be depicted more often than external constraints, which Richardson and Alpert interpret as motivational conflicts associated with achievement. Age and role status of the women proved not to be significant factors in role perceptions. However, the homogeneity of the sample and the small sample size (93 subjects) are seen as possible explanations for this lack of differences. Further research would be needed to examine this question more closely, as well as to identify the relationship between role perceptions and actual role experiences of women, and how these perceptions affect the role acquisition process. Nevill and Damico (1974, 1975a,b, 1977, 1978) undertook a series of studies to investigate women's experience of role conflict in relation to the variables of family size, marital status, age, and occupational status. All of these used a common questionnaire, developed in 1974 by the authors (Nevill 6c Damico, 1974). To develop the questionnaire items, they selected 30 women from the university and the local community, and asked them to list any role conflicts they faced as women. About half of these women were married and some had children. The conflicts listed yielded a total of 252 problem statements, which were grouped into the following eight categories: Time Mangement, Relations with Husband, Household Management, Financial, Child Care, Expectations for Self, Expectations of Others, and Guilt. The questionnaire was built around these eight categories. Under each heading was a brief "statement of the problem" and, for some items, illustrative examples 57 were provided. A seven-point Likert-type scale was used to measure how much conflict subjects experienced in each category. The questionnaire was administered to groups of women from various service, educational and church organizations, as well as faculty and secretaries at the university, resulting in a large sample of 518 subjects. Analysis of the demographic data indicated that the group tended to be well-educated, and many were in professional occupations. Two categories stood out as significantly higher conflict areas: Expectations for Self and Time Management. (The Expectations for Self item on the questionnaire reads as follows: "Every individual has goals and hopes, yet cannot always measure up to these goals. When you fall short of what you want to be, how much conflict does this situation cause you?" The Time conflict item is: "Many people find that the demands on their time are difficult to meet, for example, how does one find time to satisfy needs for privacy, household obligations, and social commitments? To what degree do you experience time conflicts?") Two of the other highest categories differed significantly from chance: Household Management and Guilt. (The Household Management item stressed the time-consuming burden of housework and resentment sometimes associated with the amount of effort it requires. The Guilt item dealt with feelings concerning inability to meet the demands and pressures associated with all of one's commitments.) Conflict in the remaining four categories was relatively low. Thus Nevill and Damico (1974) concluded that the greatest role conflict and stress experienced by women seemed to revolve around her image of herself. Subsequent analyses of the data from this sample are used as a basis for Nevill and Damico's later articles (1975a,b, 1977, 1978) on the variables related to women's experience of conflict. Their study on family size (1975a) showed that Child Care was a high conflict area for those with children, in addition to the Time Management and Expectations for Self categories previously discussed. The number 58 of children had a significant effect on several role categories, especially Child Care. Generally speaking, the greater the number of children, the greater the stress experienced in relation to Child Care. With the advent of the first child, a certain level of Child Care conflict was reported. The levels of conflict in this area actually lessened somewhat when the second child was born, but with each succeeding child came increased stress in the Child Care domain. Another trend that was evident in this analysis was that conflicts in Relations with Husband tended to increase with number of children, but the only point of significant difference found was that between having no children versus three or more. There was also a tendency in the direction of greater stress in the areas of Time Management, Expectations for Self and Expectations of Others as family size increased, but it did not prove to be statistically significant. In examining marital status as a variable, Nevill and Damico (1975b) expected to find significant differences in level of conflict experienced in all eight categories, depending on one's marital status. In all of the role conflict categories but two (Expectations for Self, Expectations of Others), marital status did prove to be a significant variable. In all six areas where marital status was significant, married women experienced significantly more conflict than never-married or formerly married women. (The latter two groups were not significantly different from one another.) Surprisingly, formerly married women who had children not only expressed less role conflict in the area of Child Care than did married women who had children, but also did not differ significantly from the never-married women who had no children. However, the biases of the sample toward highly educated women with relatively well-paying occupations suggests that the single mothers could afford the kind of child care they wanted, and thus, presumably were less conflicted. For married women, by contrast, education and income did not appear to effect the level of Child Care conflicts experienced. This suggests the possibility that a more complex set of conflicts may result from the combination of wife, mother and 59 worker roles than is measured by Nevill and Damico's questionnaire. Where a single mother with financial resources can afford to be efficient about meeting child care needs without a great deal of guilt, perhaps "family togetherness" expectations for married women may be greater and paying for child care may be less frequently considered as an option. In their 1977 study, Nevill and Damico looked at the effect of age on the experience of role conflict. In four of the eight conflict areas, age proved to have a significant effect: Relations with Husband, Financial, Child Care, and Guilt. Women in the 25 to 39 age range had the greatest conflict in Relations with Husband, Child Care and Guilt. The authors explain the relative absence of conflict in other roles as a result of the late 20's and early 30's being a stabilizing period where women have more time to develop themselves, marital relationships have stabilized and children are generally old enough not to need constant attention. During this period, many women seek expanded involvement in work, education or community pursuits, yet according to Nevill and Damico, would tend to feel unsure whether a decision to pursue their own goals would be at others' expense (i.e. husband and children). Financial difficulties were most evident in the under 25 age group, and the 25 to 39 group had more financial conflict than the over-40 group. The final study undertaken by Nevill and Damico (1978) examined the effect of occupational status on role conflict. Status level was measured on a five-point scale from (1) professional, technical and kindred workers, to (4) operatives and kindred workers, and (5) not employed outside the home. Occupational status proved to have a significant effect in all but two of the role conflict categories, attesting to the importance of occupation as a contributor to role conflict, regardless of the specific nature of the conflict. Lowest levels of conflict were reported by those at either end of the spectrum, professional/technical and not employed groups. Level 2, the "managers, officials and proprietors" had more Time Management conflicts than either professionals 60 or ho me makers. Not surprisingly, professionals had less financial conflict than the managerial group. The managerial group had much higher Expectations of Self conflicts than homemakers. Household Management and Guilt categories showed no significant differences between occupational groups although professional women and homemakers tended toward the lowest levels of stress in these two categories. Overall highest levels of stress experienced were the women at level 2, managers, officials and proprietors. Conflict in the Child Care category showed an interesting trend. Levels of Child Care conflict increased as occupational status decreased. Professionals had the lowest level of Child Care conflicts and homemakers the greatest conflict. Although this finding counters trends in their previous results, it makes sense in view of the fact that dedicating a greater proportion of time to child care would naturally seem to result in a greater preoccupation with Child Care issues. The category covers a full range of child care issues, not just obtaining care for children while the parent is absent. Nevill and Damico (1978) found no significant interaction between occupational status and other demographic variables of age, marital status, number of children and education level for any of the eight role conflict categories. However, occupational status did have a significant relationship to the levels of conflict experienced in six of the categories. Nevill and Damico conclude that professionals and homemakers appear to be balancing their roles with greater aplomb. Those women who have neither the career status rewards of the professional nor the personal fulfillment of the woman who chooses full-time homemaking and childrearing appear to face the most difficult problems. Nevill and Damico (1978) summarize from the themes in their findings two basic kinds of stress that women experience most often. First, there are the conflicts, disappointments and self-recriminations associated with not meeting up to one's expectations of oneself. (These are reflected in the Expectations of 61 Self and Guilt categories.) The second kind of conflict relates to a woman's concept of self as an effective, competent person, able to use her time and energy efficiently in managing her own environment (Time Management and Household Management categories). These issues of self-image or self-concept are seen by Nevill and Damico as highly significant to women's career decision-making. Information yielded in studies such as those by Nevill and Damico can be used, as they suggest, to alert women to the possible occurrence of conflicts, which they may wish to consider, avoid or in some way influence by their occupational choice. However, conflict reduction should not be taken as the sole objective of those who would provide counselling or assistance to women. A number of authors have pointed out that certain levels of conflict should be expected as a normal part of life, and that healthy functioning and development needs to include the acquisition of skills for coping with conflict (Sales, 1978; Smith, 1981). Therefore, research which includes an emphasis on coping and coping effectiveness will be important to examine in relation to the concerns Nevill and Damico raise about the reduction of conflict. Perhaps effective coping does not always reduce conflict, but rather serves to make the conflict manageable and thereby reduces stress. Strategies for Coping with Role Conflict: Classification Schemes and Empirical Studies Goode (1960) was one of the early authors to investigate and label the ways that individuals can cope with role strains or role conflict. The four major coping strategies that Goode identified were (1) compartmentalization; (2) establishment of a hierarchy of importance; (3) mutual support from status spheres; and (4) delegation of roles. However, authors such as Johnson and Johnson (1976) have pointed out that since such studies were conducted in the context of male employment, they may have limited applicability to women. Compartmentalization, for example, as a coping strategy, involves keeping 62 roles and related concerns totally separate. Many working mothers, according to Johnson and Johnson (1976), have difficulty putting family concerns behind them on the job, as they have been socialized to place primary importance on their mothering and homemaking roles and to view children and household matters as their first responsibility. "Establishing a hierarchy of importance" is similarly viewed as more difficult for women, as they generally do not have the same support at home that men do to enable them to place home and family demands in the background. The opportunity to cultivate "mutual support from status spheres" (generally work colleagues) may also be more difficult for women, particularly for those in professional or other non-traditional work environments. Workplace friendship networks tend to be developed and maintained along same-sex lines (Johnson & Johnson, 1976), and the women who are alone or in a small minority in a male environment often experience feelings of isolation, and are sometimes related to by male co-workers in more sexual terms than as friend or colleague (e.g. Davidson, 1978). Finally, Goode's fourth strategy, the delegation of roles, can be problematic for women, given the difficulty of finding good domestic help and child care, and the disapproval they sometimes receive from others for neglecting or "abandoning" the children. Hall's Model of Coping with Role Conflict Douglas T. Hall (1972) presents a useful model of coping with role conflict which highlights the interplay of intrapsychic and environmental sources of conflict and the ways that one can cope with these conflicts. Hall's model of coping is logically derived from Levinson's (1959) three levels of the role process discussed earlier, each level being a potential target for coping or intervening in the role process. The first type of coping, called structural role redefinition, involves altering external, structurally imposed expectations held by others (one's role senders). This 63 concept is similar to Goode's (1960) notion of "role bargains." An example of this type of coping would be to negotiate a revised set of expectations for a given role, such as a woman who bargains with her employer to end work at 3:00 p.m. so as to be able to be home when her children return from school. Hall identifies six categories of Type I coping, as follows: I. Structural Role Redefinition A. Eliminate (or add) particular activities within roles. Do not give up or add entire role, only certain components of it. B. Role support from outside role set. Employing outside help to assume certain role activities. C. Role support from member of role set. Receiving help from role senders (usually family) in performing activities necessary to meet role demands. D. Problem solving with role senders. Collaborative redefinition of roles. Moral support from or problem solving with role senders in deciding how to resolve role conflicts. E. Integrate roles. Increase overlap among roles in a way that each contributes to the other. F. Change societal definition of woman's roles. Changing general social expectations as opposed to the expectations of specific role senders. The most important feature of structural role redefinition (Type I) coping strategies is that they all involve active negotiation with role senders (those in the environment who impose demands) and reaching agreement on a new set of expectations. One deals with the objective reality of the situation rather than just one's thoughts or feelings about it. Hall's second type of coping is personal role redefinition, that is, changing one's personal concept of role demands received from others. In contrast to Type I coping, here one changes one's attitudes and perceptions of role demands, rather than changing the demands themselves. An example of this type would be setting priorities among roles and within roles, such that one makes sure certain demands 64 are always met, such as the needs of sick children, and others can take second place, such as housekeeping demands. Another type in this category would be to adopt the attitude that role conflict is an inevitable fact of life and that one can only bear up and hope it decreases eventually. The seven categories Hall identifies under "personal role redefinition" are as follows: II. Personal Role Redefinition A. Establish priorities for roles or within roles. Rank activities in order of importance. B. Partition and separate roles. Devote full attention to a given role when in that role. Attempt to minimize simultaneous overlap of roles. C. Overlook role demands or reduce standards. Choose not to meet certain role demands. D. Change attitudes toward roles or develop a new attitude which helps reduce conflicts. E. Eliminate roles. Withdraw from an entire role area. F. Rotate activities from one role to another. Handle each role in turn as it comes up. G. Develop self and own interests. See personal interests as valid source of role demands. The third type of coping is reactive role behaviour, which is attempting to improve the quality of one's role performance so as to better satisfy demands of all role senders. This type of coping can be understood as "trying harder to please all of the people all of the time" (a strategy which is common among overachievers and "pleasers"). The assumption underlying this approach to coping is that role demands are fixed and unchangeable and that the main task is attempting to meet them - a passive or reactive orientation toward one's roles. Only three categories are listed under "reactive role behaviour": III. Reactive Role Behaviour A. Plan, schedule, organize better. Increase efficiency of role performance. 65 B. No conscious strategy. No attempt to control role demands or own responses. Passive orientation toward role conflicts. C. Working harder to meet all role demands. Do all that is expected. Work harder, devote more time and energy inputs to role performance. Of the three types, only Type I strategies are considered coping in the strict sense of the term, i.e. dealing with the objective reality of the situation. The other two types are defenses, i.e. altering one's feelings or perceptions in response to the situation. Since Hall's initial article (1972) appeared describing his coping model, numerous studies have been conducted using his framework to examine women's coping behaviour, satisfaction and coping effectiveness. These empirical studies will be reviewed next, before proceeding to describe the final two approaches to classifying coping (Pearlin & Schooler, 1978 and Elman & Gilbert, 1984). Empirical Studies Utilizing Hall's (1972) Model Hall (1972) began his studies of role conflict in married women with the expectation that, since research has shown that role conflict is a negative experience, people generally strive to reduce feelings of conflict. Eliminating conflict at its source in the environment - redefining the actual expectations of others - was seen as likely to provide the most long-term relief and therefore prove to be the most satisfying coping strategy. The other two types implied wasted energy involved in distorting expectations of others or performing under role overload conditions. In Hall's initial pilot study, three groups of college-educated women were asked to identify their most salient and prominent life roles, and to list any conflicts or strains that they experience or have experienced between roles. These conflicts were coded into categories, based on the sources of pressure which produced them: home (for example, wife or mother role), non-home (employment, volunteer work), self (personal desire for free time to develop other interests such as sports, for 66 instance, or to take courses) and time. Coping strategies were obtained by asking the following open-ended question: "How do (did) you attempt to deal with these conflicts?" Responses to this question were grouped into sixteen strategy categories, under the three broad categories of structural role redefinition, personal role redefinition and reactive role behaviour. Satisfaction was measured by the question: "Overall, how satisfied do you feel with your career?" Following the pilot, Hall conducted a more systematic study to test the validity of the coping strategies and the relationship between coping and satisfaction. The questions on role conflict and coping were basically the same as those used in the pilot. Satisfaction was measured with the following general question: "Overall, how satisified do you feel with your roles in life?", indicated on a five-point scale from "dissatisfied" to "extremely satisfied." In Hall's pilot study on role conflict and coping strategies, he found that satisfaction was positively related to the number of Type I strategies employed, that neither of the other two types was significantly related to satisfaction. In the second sample he found a similar link between the number of Type I strategies used and level of satisfaction, and also showed that Type III coping was negatively related to satisfaction. In breaking down results by employment status (employed full-time, employed part-time and "housewives"), the negative effects of Type III coping were shown to be most strongly felt in part-time employment, consistent with the findings of other studies which have investigated the stress experienced by part-time workers (e.g. Hall & Gordon, 1973). Generally, though, the relationships between coping and satisfaction for all three groups were very similar. It is clear, however, that satisfaction with one's career or satisfaction with one's roles in life is not equivalent to finding specific coping strategies satisfactory or effective. Also, since there is no distinction made between coping used for 67 specific kinds of role conflict (e.g. home, non-home, self), such that role conflicts are paired with specific coping strategies, the trends noted by Hall can be seen only as very global indicators of what kinds of coping might generally be associated with satisfaction. Hall did suggest that a useful direction for further research would be to consider under what conditions each type of coping is successful. In situations of intrapsychic conflict, coming to terms with one's own attitudes is the core problem. He postulates that in such a situation a person must begin with Type II, Personal Role Redefinition - that is, clarifying and accepting her own attitudes and perceptions - and only then confront her role senders (Type I). Other questions, he suggests, which remain to be explored are whether and how people change coping strategies. Does one type logically precede another, e.g. does IIA, Establishing priorities, logically precede IA, Elimination of certain role activities? Do people rotate strategies, using different ones at different times? Harrison and Minor (1978) used Hall's model of coping strategies to investigate the relationship between type of conflict, choice of coping strategy and overall satisfaction with role performance among black working wives with children. Types of conflict were conceptualized as combinations of two of the three roles of wife, mother and worker - in other words, wife and worker conflicts, mother and worker conflicts and mother and wife conflicts. Interrole conflicts were expected to be focal for these women, given Hall's (1972) conclusion that the major role problem faced by women is interrole (conflict between roles) rather than intrarole conflict (conflicting expectations within a role). Harrison and Minor hypothesized that women would use different strategies - Hall's Type I, II and III - for different types of conflict. Specific hypotheses were that satisfaction would correlate with the use of Type I strategies for wife-worker conflicts, the use of Type II strategies for mother-worker conflicts, and the use of Type III strategies for mother-wife conflicts. They also expected to find a 68 relationship between career satisfaction and professional versus non-professional job status and husband's approval/disapproval of her working. The measure of role conflict which Harrison and Minor used was a single question, which was asked in relation to each role pair, e.g. "Do you see conflicts between your role as a mother and a wife?" Responses to this item were indicated on a five-point scale: never, every now and then, occasionally, often, or always. Nothing more specific about the conflicts was explored. Harrison and Minor did find some significant relationships between type of conflict and coping strategies utilized: (1) In wife and worker conflicts, 64% chose Type I strategies, that is, negotiating with husbands and employers regarding conflicting role demands; (2) In mother and worker conflicts, the majority (46%) used Type II, altering their own perceptions and attitudes, e.g. reducing standards for performance in mother or work roles; (3) For mother and wife conflicts, few used Type III (only 15%), the rest used either Type I (44%) or Type II (41%), suggesting that it may be almost impossible in many mother-wife conflicts to simply try harder to meet all demands; one must either alter one's expectations or negotiate with sources of the demands. Harrison and Minor (1978) also looked at the relationship between choice of strategy for specific types of conflict and level of overall satisfaction with role performance but found no significant relationship. There did prove to be a significant relationship between professional and non-professional job status and career satisfaction, with the professional group clearly more satisfied. In fact, the greatest influence on career satisfaction was whether or not the subject was a professional. Perhaps surprisingly, husband's approval or disapproval of her working had no apparent effect on her level of career satisfaction. One important thing to note about this study is that this sample of black working women varied in their choice of coping strategy as the identity of role senders changed. The authors speculate that this change relates to the primary 69 importance of motherhood to these women, in spite of the fact that they are working. Therefore, when the mother role is involved in the conflict - whether with worker or wife roles - priority is accorded to the mother role. Children's role demands appear not to be discussed or negotiated; instead the mother tries to meet all the role demands of children and puts other role demands in second place. Despite the variation in strategies used by the women in Harrison and Minor's study, almost half of them were satisfied with the way they handled their role conflicts. This suggests that the women have accepted the need to adapt by using different strategies for different situations. The socialization process leads women to expect to give priority to some roles and negotiate role demands for others. As a result, Harrison and Minor believe, the women perceive themselves as having adjusted to multiple demands in the best possible way. They are coping in the traditional way (priority to motherhood), accept this as the reality of their lives, and are satisfied. In a subsequent study, Harrison and Minor (1982) used a similar methodology to explore the relationship between marital status, interrole conflict, coping strategy and satisfaction in a sample of black working mothers. Based on Hall's assertion that the level of conflict experienced, coping strategies and coping satisfaction were in part a function of the number of roles a person performed, Harrison and Minor wished to compare the methods that single and married working mothers used in handling mother-worker conflicts. Their specific hypotheses were that there would be an interaction between marital status and type of coping strategy on satisfaction with (1) the mother role, and (2) the worker role. Thus the emphasis of their second study was narrower and more focussed than their 1978 study; in this case, they looked only at mother-worker conflicts and they replaced their former global satisfaction measure with two more specific (but still general) questions: "Overall, how satisfied do you feel with your career?" and "How satisfied are you with your role as a mother?" Each of these satisfaction items were scored 70 on a three-point scale from "strongly dissatisfied" to "very satisfied." Harrison and Minor (1982) found that there was a significant interaction between marital status and coping strategy on satisfaction with the mother role. The majority of single employed mothers used Type III strategies, and those who did were satisfied with their performance in the mother role. Married employed mothers, by contrast, tended to use Type II strategies more frequently, and were also satisfied with their mother role performance. A smaller percentage of the married women also chose Type III, but these tended to be less satisfied with their mother role than those who chose Type II. Half of the women who used Type II strategies (personal role redefinition) coped consistently by priorizing the mother role. Satisfaction with the mother role was also examined in relation to marital status and coping strategies and no interaction effect was evident. However, single mothers were significantly more satisfied with their worker role than married employed mothers. The authors conclude that their findings do support the hypothesized relationship between marital status, coping strategy and satisfaction with the mother role. In cases of conflict between the mother and worker role, the married women did not attempt to change the expectations of role senders but rather redefined internally how they would respond to the expectations. Single mothers, by contrast, did not attempt to change external demands or their own perceptions of the conflicts, but rather attempted to improve the quality of their role performance so they could better satisfy the demands of all role senders. Both groups were satisfied with their performance in the mother role. The greater satisfaction with the worker role among single mothers is interpreted by Harrison and Minor as an indication that a greater number of options are open to those with fewer roles. The absence of a wife role apparently made it possible to adopt a style of coping that maximized satisfaction in both roles. 71 Consistent with the findings in Harrison and Minor's 1978 study, married working mothers more often found themselves in a position of having to choose to assign priority to one role over others, and, as previously, it was the mother role that was accorded this priority. Gray (1980a,b, 1983) conducted a study of 232 married women doctors, lawyers and professors to investigate their attitudes toward their roles and how they cope with role conflicts. Coping strategies were classified into the sixteen categories identified by Hall (1972). Gray looked at the linkages between specific coping strategies and satisfaction, thus yielding more precise information than previous studies which locked only at satisfaction associated with each of the general types (I, II and III) as a whole. Gray collected her initial data by means of a questionnaire which she developed for her study. Items were based on information obtained in a pilot study containing open-ended questions. The questionnaire on which the main study was based contained 64 fixed-choice items and one open-ended question. One set of questions looked at personal attitudes towards roles. Such questions represented an attempt to examine women's experience of conflict in more detail than any of the previous studies using Hall's model. Specific attitudes examined in these questions include feelings about having or wanting children, feelings about actual or potential child care arrangements, effects of her employment on children, feelings about household chores, and the relative importance of roles. Another set of questions looked at attitudes of significant others, such as husbands, families and colleagues. The final set of questions of Gray's questionnaire measured the coping strategies that women utilize. To develop the coping items, Gray translated each of Hall's sixteen strategies into behaviour statements with which one could indicate agreement or disagreement (on a four-point scale), such as "Family members share household tasks with me." 72 Satisfaction was measured by only one item on Gray's questionnaire. Subjects were asked, "How satisfied are you with the way you have dealt with possible role strains in your life?", and to indicate a response on a four-point scale ranging from extremely dissatisfied to extremely satisfied. Gray found strong positive associations between satisfaction and strategies of having family members share household tasks, reducing standards within certain roles, and considering personal interests important. Negatively related to satisfaction were overlapping roles, keeping roles totally separate, attempting to meet expectations of all, eliminating entire roles, and not having any conscious strategies for dealing with role conflicts. From the results of her study Gray (1983) concluded that professional women today demonstrate a much more serious commitment to their careers than indicated, for example, in Paloma's study (1970), over a decade earlier. The women in Gray's study appear to have worked out a variety of ways of overcoming limitations on their professional involvement, such as hiring outside help to assist with chores, sharing responsibility for household tasks with family members, and a lesser number (14%) were considering not having children. Gray concluded that no one way of coping was right for every woman; rather each had to decide how to balance her roles within the context of her unique situation. Although flexibility and a constant re-evaluation of needs may be necessary, it appears that the challenges of managing a complex repertoire of roles, for most of the professional women in Gray's study, were well worth the rewards. Finally, one of the most recent studies to examine coping from the perspective of Hall's model (1972) is Shachar and Gilbert's study (1983) of the role conflicts and coping strategies of working lesbians. Shachar and Gilbert noted that all preceding research on women's work-related role conflicts focussed exclusively on the experiences of heterosexual women. The first purpose of their study was to investigate the salient areas of role conflict among a sample of working lesbians. 73 In contrast to most previous studies which have restricted their investigation to conflict between roles, Shachar and Gilbert examined both interrole and intrarole conflict (i.e. conflict within a particular role). They were particularly interested in the question of whether the women perceived their lesbianism as influencing their experience of interrole and intrarole conflicts. A second purpose of their study was to ascertain whether self-esteem appeared to be a factor influencing the conflicts these women experienced and the coping strategies they employed. The authors note that although Hall initially proposed that Type I strategies were the most adaptive, as they involved dealing directly with the source of the conflict, subsequent research studies (such as Harrison and Minor, 1978) do not support this view. Shachar and Gilbert point out that Type I strategies may not always prove to be the most functional. "Lesbians. . . whose personal identity may be in conflict with role demands may find a strategy which redefines their internal perceptions of a role (Type II) to be as functional a strategy as one which restructures the external role demands (Type I)" (p. 246). Rogers' (1961) self theory provides a conceptual framework through which Shachar and Gilbert understand some of the potential conflicts of lesbians. Adaptive development, according to Rogers, requires the accurate perception and subsequent integration of social expectations with personal values. Because heterosexuality is such a pervasive social expectation in our society, those whose sexual preference differs from this norm and whose personal values do not conform to the majority may experience psychological and possibly interpersonal conflicts, Shachar and Gilbert summarize the potential role of self-esteem in affecting the nature and extent of role conflicts that lesbians experience: The social expectations for sex-appropriate sexual preference may conflict with lesbians' personal values. That is, if society's and important role senders' beliefs about sexual preference do not correspond with what individuals want for themselves or with how they think others want them to be, then, according to Rogerian theory, psychological conflict results. . . Individuals who have achieved a congruence between their personal values 74 and social expectations feel a greater sense of self-acceptance and self-competence than those who have not (Rogers, 1961), and thus may experience less conflict in their interactions with various role senders, (p. 246) Shachar and Gilbert expected that those with high self-esteem and a stronger sense of self might be more likely to actively negotiate with role senders (Type I) and/or employ the strategies that focus on personal role redefinition (Type II). Two hypotheses were tested pertaining to both interrole and intrarole conflict: (1) subjects using strategy Types I and II would report less stress due to role conflict and greater satisfaction with coping than would subjects using Type III, and (2) subjects using strategy Types I and II would report higher self-esteem than would subjects using Type III. Two kinds of data were collected in their study by means of a questionnaire developed by the first author: (1) descriptions of role conflicts, and ratings on two aspects of the conflict - stress level and degree of lesbian contribution; and (2) strategies for dealing with conflict and coping satisfaction. Self-esteem was measured by a second instrument, the Texas Social Behaviour Inventory (Helmreich and Stapp, 1974). Although Shachar and Gilbert do not highlight this fact, the questions used in their study to elicit descriptions of role conflict and coping were phrased in such a way that specific situations were provided by subjects rather than generalizations about the kinds of conflict they usually experience or how they usually cope. Similarly, the ratings of degree of conflict and coping satisfaction were situation-specific, in contrast to previous studies which used much more global questions (such as Hall (1972), "Overall, how satisfied do you feel with your roles in life?"). An approach which is based on specific situations yields much more precise information about conflict, coping and satisfaction than provided in responses to more general questions, and is similar in method to the present study using the Critical Incident Technique (Flanagan, 1954). Shachar and Gilbert classified the role conflict data in terms of the role or role pair involved in the conflict. Coping strategies were placed by raters into Hall's three major coping categories. By far the most frequent category of interrole conflict reported was between lover and work roles. Other common but less frequent types were between work and political activist roles, lover and daughter, and lover and political activist roles. Stress associated with their interrole conflicts was generally high and they perceived their lesbianism as contributing moderately to the conflict. Central themes expressed in interrole conflicts related to the allocation of time and energy between roles and the conflict between the needs or interests of role senders (e.g. lover or employer). The most frequently mentioned areas of interrole conflict were in the work role, the daughter role and the lover role. Self-esteem levels and conflict ratings did not differ between subjects reporting the three kinds of intrarole conflict. Conflicts in the work role tended to focus on feeling socially unacceptable in a heterosexual, male-dominated work environment. Daughter role conflicts typically concerned the pressure of parental expectations which they did not want to meet. Unlike interrole conflicts, subjects perceived their lesbianism as contributing substantially to their intrarole conflicts. However, the levels of stress experienced in the two kinds of conflict (interrole and intrarole) were similar, as were the levels of coping satisfaction. Several patterns were evident in the data on coping strategies, coping satisfaction and self-esteem. Reactive strategies (Type III) were used more frequently for conflicts within a role than for conflicts between roles. However, as predicted, those who used Type III strategies for intrarole conflicts reported lower satisfaction with their coping than those who used Type I or Type II. Contrary to prediction, the subject's level of self-esteem appeared to be irrelevant to either the level of experienced stress or the type of coping utilized for intrarole conflicts. 76 Active negotiation (Type I) strategies, were more often used for interrole than for intrarole conflicts. Subjects who used Type III strategies for interrole conflicts reported lower self-esteem than those who used strategies of personal role redefinition (Type II). (Although the self-esteem levels associated with use of Type I were also quite high, the differences in self-esteem in those using Type III vs. Type I was not statistically significant.) Contrary to prediction, self-esteem did not prove to have any relationship to the level of stress experienced in interrole conflicts. In reviewing their results, Shachar and Gilbert note a number of trends in the role conflict and coping of the working lesbians in their sample. Worker-lover conflicts were the most frequently reported interrole conflicts. The nature of worker-lover conflicts were not perceived by subjects as particularly related to their sexual orientation. It would appear that the conflicts associated with managing a work role and a partner relationship which lesbians experience are similar to those of heterosexual women. Strategies involving active negotiation and altering one's perception of the situation proved to be the most popular for these interrole conflicts and were also associated with the highest self-esteem. In contrast to interrole conflicts, subjects perceived being lesbian as highly related to their conflicts within roles. The most frequent themes expressed in conjunction with work and daughter roles were concerns about not wanting to meet the expectations or demands of role senders because of one's sexual preference. Some of these women, for example, were working in environments where being known as a lesbian could jeopardize their job security and career development. Others were contending with pressures from parents to get married and have children, conflicts which in some cases seemed to be complicated by ambivalence and contradictory values. Reactive (Type III) strategies were used for intrarole conflicts almost as often as active negotiation (Type I) strategies. Type III strategies seemed to be 77 necessary when a lesbian found herself in a no-win situation with regard to parents' or employers' expecations. If she chooses a Type I strategy and discloses her lesbianism, she may risk either loss of affection or employment. If she chooses a Type II approach and tries to change her perception of the role, she may increase the strain by maintaining a heterosexual image. Avoidance may indeed prove to be the most effective strategy for some kinds of conflicts. However, Shachar and Gilbert point out that such strategies may be effective politically, but appear not to be very satisfying personally. Environmental realities apparently influence the choice of coping style more when expectations conflict within a role than when conflict arises between roles. One of the comments Shachar and Gilbert make in conclusion is that their study was limited by the fact that respondents were not asked to rate the effectiveness of their coping strategies. They point out that effectiveness and satisfaction with coping may represent separate dimensions. In an effort to get at this dimension of coping effectiveness, the present study will replace the previous rather vague and global measures of satisfaction with a measure of perceived effectiveness of specific coping strategies in specific conflict situations. Pearlin and Schooler's Research on "The Structure of Coping" Pearlin and Schooler (1978) undertook one of the most ambitious single studies of role conflict and coping to be found in the literature. Their study is valuable, to the present purposes, for a number of reasons: (1) the research was conducted using both male and female subjects, enabling gender comparisons to be made of conflicts, coping and coping effectiveness; (2) classification schemes were developed in the study for both role conflict and coping; and (3) complex statistical analyses were undertaken to enable the assessment of the relationships between a number of factors, including conflict, coping strategies, coping effectiveness, gender and age characteristics, and psychological resources such as self-esteem and self-mastery. Both the concepts applied and the results obtained in Pearlin and 78 Schooler's research will have potential importance for the present study. By reviewing their approach and their findings here in some detail, it will be possible (in Chapter V) to compare them with the findings of the present study. The term coping is used by Pearlin and Schooler (1978) to refer to "any response to external life strains that serves to prevent, avoid or control emotional distress" (p. 3). Coping is thus understood, by definition, as inextricably linked to the life strains experienced by people and the state of their inner emotional life. The domain of life strains investigated by Pearlin and Schooler are the everyday problems experienced by a cross-section of people (2,300 in total) in "typical" life roles. Their investigation was directed to "the persistent life strains that people encounter as they act as parents, job holders and breadwinners, husbands and wives. By strains we mean those enduring problems that have the potential of arousing threat, a meaning that establishes strain and stressor as interchangeable concepts" (p. 3). By analysing data yielded through unstructured interviews, Pearlin and Schooler developed (and refined through factor analysis) a series of structured questions to elicit specific information for a questionnaire on role conflict, coping and coping effectiveness, to be used in subsequent interviews. The authors provide only a partial listing of the factors identified and the myriad of questionnaire items yielded by their role conflict data. The four major conflict categories they report are listed below with examples of the subtypes under each of the role strain categories. (Each of these subtypes corresponds to a number of items on their questionnaire.) I. Marital Strain A. Non-acceptance by spouse B. Non-reciprocity in give and take C. Frustration of role expectations II. Parental Strain (pertaining to parents with children aged 16 to 21) A. Deviations from parental standards of behaviour 79 B. Non-conformity to parental aspirations and values C. Disregard for parental status III. Household Economics Strain A. Standard of living brinkmanship (i.e. living "on the brink" of one's financial capacity) IV. Occupational Strain A. Inadequacy of rewards B. Noxiousness of work environment C. Depersonalization in the work environment D. Role overload For each of the strain items, a corresponding set of questions was developed to measure emotional distress. In assessing emotional distress, Pearlin and Schooler rely on subjects' reported experience of emotional upset as their indicator of stress. They focus only on unpleasant feelings of which people are aware, rather than inferring any kind of unconscious conflict processes. The authors define emotional distress as follows: Not all. . . unpleasant feelings necessarily represent what we regard as stress. Emotional stress, as we conceive of it, is primarily distinguished from other negative states by its specificity. It is specific in two related aspects: by being determined by particular strainful and threatening circumstances in the environment and by being a condition that has clear boundaries rather than an enveloping, total state of the organism, (p. 4) The concept of emotional distress is thus distinguished from severe anxiety or depression, which are more intense and enduring, as well as more global and diffuse. Coping is described by Pearlin and Schooler in much more detail than role conflict categories. First, however, they make an important distinction between social resources, psychological resources and specific coping responses. People's coping responses, or what people do, are distinguished from what is available to 80 them (resources) in their coping repertoires. Social resources are represented in the "interpersonal networks of which people are a part and which are a potential source of crucial supports: family, friends, fellow workers, neighbors and voluntary associations" (p. 5). Psychological resources are defined by the authors as "the personality characteristics that people draw upon to help them withstand threats posed by the events and objects in their environment. These resources, residing within the self, can be formidable barriers to the stressful consequences of social strains" (p. 5). The three main psychological resources which were measured by Pearlin and Schooler are self-esteem, self-denigration and mastery. "Self-esteem" and "self-denigration" are opposites and reflect the extent to which one holds positive versus negative attitudes towards the self. "Mastery" concerns "the extent to which one regards one's life choices as being under one's own control in contrast to being fatalistically ruled" (p. 5). Other aspects of personality that were measured, representing potential psychological resources for coping, include denial, general tendency toward escapism, and dispositions to move toward or away from people when troubled. However, these last four factors were deleted from later analysis, as they proved to have no significant impact on coping efficacy. Specific coping responses are defined by Pearlin and Schooler as "the behaviors, cognitions and perceptions in which people engage when actually contending with their life problems. The psychological resources represent some of the things people are, independent of the particular roles they play. Coping responses respresent some of the things that people do, their concrete efforts to deal with the life strains they encounter in their different roles" (p. 5). The authors also stress that although an individual's coping responses may well be influenced by their psychological resources, psychological resources and coping responses are conceptually and empirically independent. Analysis of subjects' responses to the coping questions yielded a total of 81 17 factors, which Pearlin and Schooler describe under three major types of coping responses. These coping responses are categorized by the nature of their functions: (1) responses that change the situation out of which strainful experience arises; (2) responses that control the meaning of the strainful experience after it occurs, but before the emergence of stress; and (3) responses that function more for the control of stress itself after it has emerged. The first type of coping, responses that modify the situation, would seem to be the most direct coping method, as they are aimed at altering the conflict at the source. Three of Pearlin and Schooler's seventeen factors clearly fit within this category: (a) negotiation in marriage; (b) the use of punitive discipline in parenting; and (c) optimistic action in the occupational role. Two of their other factors could be seen as potential preparatory actions to modifying the situation: seeking of advice in marital and parental roles. Despite the fact that this type of coping would seem at face value to be the most effective or desirable coping response, since it eliminates or deals with the problem at its source, comparatively few of Pearlin and Schooler's subjects reported using this strategy. The authors speculate on possible reasons for this: First, people must recognize the situation as the source of their problem before they can mobilize action toward modifying it, and such recognition is not always easy. Next, even when the sources are recognized, people may lack the knowledge or experience necessary to eliminate or modify them. Third, actions directed at the modification of one situation may create another unwanted situation, resulting in an inhibition of the coping action. Finally, some of the most persistent strains originate in conditions impervious to coping interventions, thus discouraging individual ameliorative coping efforts, (p. 6) Pearlin and Schooler's second major category of coping response is responses that function to control the meaning of the problem. Such responses can be effective in neutralizing the threat posed by the event. Lazarus (1966) has pointed out the influence of perceived meaning to the experience of threat. "The way an experience is recognized and the meaning that is attached to it determine to a large extent 82 the threat posed by that experience. Thus, the same experience may be highly threatening to some people and innocuous to others, depending on how they perceptually and cognitively appraise the experience" (Pearlin & Schooler, 1978, p. 6). This second type of coping was by far the most prevalent in Pearlin and Schooler's sample. One example of coping mechanism under this category is the making of positive comparisons. Basically, this strategy involves alleviating the perceived hardship of one's situation by adopting an attitude of "counting one's blessings," or comparing one's situation to others' and realizing "we're all in the same boat." Comparisons can also be made from a temporal frame of reference, for example viewing the current situation as an improvement over the past or a forerunner to an easier future. The making of positive comparisons is a category which applied to all four of the coping response categories (Marital, Parental, Household Economic and Occupational). Another coping mechanism under the category of responses that function to control the meaning of the problem is selective ignoring. Such a coping response essentially involves looking for the positive side to an otherwise negative situation and thus "trivializing the importance of that which is noxious and magnifying the importance of that which is gratifying" (p. 7). Two strategies which are similar to selective ignoring entail a hierarchical ordering of life priorities, the substitution of rewards in the occupational arena, and the devaluation of money in the arena of household economics. Both of these help a person to avoid stress by viewing the strainful experiences as occuring within the least valued areas of life. The third major type of coping, like the second, is geared to managing stress rather than attempting to alter the stress-provoking situation. In this case, rather than altering one's perception of the stressful event itself (as in the second type), one adopts a philosophy that makes the suffering tolerable, such that one can "convert the endurance of unavoidable hardships into a moral virtue" (p. 7). Pearlin 83 and Schooler offer a number of examples of this type of coping which came out in their exploratory interviews, all of which are familiar examples of "conventional wisdom": "try not to worry, because time itself solves problems; accept hardship because it is meant to be; avoid confrontation; those who are good-naturedly forebearing will be rewarded; take the bad with the good; just relax and difficulties become less important; everything works out for the best" (p. 7). Four of Pearlin and Schooler's seventeen factors can be viewed as functioning primarily for stress management. The first two are strategies in the realm of marital conflict: emotional discharge (the "expressive ventilation of feelings") vs. controlled reflectiveness (e.g. thinking over marital problems or reading books or magazines about how to get along in marriage); and passive forebearance (avoiding spouse, giving in and compromising one's position, keeping hurt feelings to self) vs. self-assertion (openly recognizing problems and moving toward conflict resolution). In the parental arena, a stress management factor is potency vs. helpless resignation, where resignation that the child is beyond influencing relieves the parent of a sense of failure and guilt. Finally, in the arena of household economics, optimistic faith in one's financial future can relieve stress by adopting the attitude that things will get better if one only waits. In evaluating the effectiveness of coping, Pearlin and Schooler sought a way of addressing the fact that there is great variation in the stress people feel in response to life strains, such that a given conflict situation might be experienced quite differently by two different people. It is here that their measures of emotional distress come into the picture. The effectiveness of coping behavior. . . cannot be judged solely on how well it purges problems and hardships from our lives. Instead it must be judged on how well it prevents these hardships from resulting in emotional distress. Indeed, our criterion for weighing efficacy is simply the extent to which a coping response attenuates the relationship between the life strains people experience and the emotional stress they feel. (p. 8) 84 The variables used in the analysis of coping effectiveness include the life strains people experience in each of the four conflict areas, their psychological resources, the coping responses they utilize and the emotional stress they feel. Results indicated that there are indeed distinct differences in which strategies are perceived as effective, depending on the roles involved. Specific differences in effectiveness appeared to exist between what coping responses work effectively in close interpersonal relationships and those judged effective in the more impersonal role domains. With relatively impersonal strains, such as those stemming from economic or occupational experiences, the most effective forms of coping involve the manipulation of goals and values in a way which increases the distance of the individual from the problem. On the other hand, problems arising from the relatively close interpersonal relations of parental and marital roles are best handled by coping mechanisms in which the individual remains committed to and engaged with the relevant others (p. 18). In analysing whether specific coping responses varied in their degree of effectiveness, Pearlin and Schooler found that "most effective" and "least effective" responses could be identified in all role strain categories except occupational, but the effect of any single coping mechanism was rather modest. One unexpected finding was that self-reliance was found to be a more effective coping response in reducing stress in marriage and parenting arenas than was seeking help or advice from others. From this the authors draw an interesting conclusion. This unexpected finding reminds us that help-seekers are not necessarily the same people as help-receivers, for the most effective copers may be those who have the capacity to.gather support from others without having to solicit it. At any rate, it is evident that we do not yet know the conditions under which help from others can be effective, (p. 10) In economic and, to a lesser extent, occupational roles, Pearlin and Schooler found that the most effective types of coping involved the manipulation of goals and values. In the economic realm, reducing the importance of monetary success 85 seems to buffer the effect of financial difficulties. A related coping response which appeared to be effective for occupational conflicts was the "substitution of rewards," such that intrinsic rewards of work are devalued in favour of such extrinsic rewards as pay and fringe benefits. In other words, some occupational conflicts can best be handled by distancing oneself from the conflict, placing secondary importance on work, and focussing only on the tangible benefits of the job as a means to enjoyment in other arenas of life. In the realms of marriage and parenting, however, distancing strategies appear to be least effective. What works in these situations is making a more direct attempt to resolve the problem. In marriage it is a reflective probing of problems, rather than the eruptive discharge of feelings created by the problems, that is among the more effective responses. Similarly, the most effective type of response to parental strains is not resigned helplessness, but the conviction that one can exert a potent influence over one's children, (p. 11) Pearlin and Schooler found that the trend in coping effectiveness described above in terms of engagement/disengagement in problem-solving in marriage, parenting, money and work arenas, occur independent of the intensity of role strains. Disengagement appears to be consistently effective in work and financial domains, whereas active involvement works best in marriage and parenting, regardless of the magnitude of the problem. Psychological resources proved to play an important role in influencing the degree of emotional distress one experiences when faced with a conflict. Most important was freedom from negative attitudes towards the self; second was the possession of a sense of control over the forces impinging on one; and third was the presence of favourable attitudes towards the self. Pearlin and Schooler were also able to analyse the relative influence of psychological resources and coping responses utilized and found that in situations where individuals have little direct control - finances and job - psychological characteristics are more helpful in lessening 86 emotional distress. In close interpersonal relationships of one's marriage and parent roles, "it is the things one does that make the most difference." Having a varied repertoire of coping responses was found to guard one more effectively against emotional distress than utilizing a narrower range of coping alternatives. The one exception, again, was in coping with occupational problems, where the diversity of one's repertoire of coping responses had no bearing on the degree of emotional distress one experienced. Finally, Pearlin and Schooler looked at whether differences in role strain, coping responses and coping effectiveness could be detected based on sex, age, education or income. Three of the coping responses which proved to be most common among women involved selective ignoring, a response which, in marriage and parenting, clearly proved to exacerbate stress. Males were also clearly much better equipped with psychological resources and employed more of the effective responses than did females. The authors speculate that this difference between the sexes, "the greater inclination of women to psychological disturbance. . . is a consequence not only of having to bear more severe hardships, but also of their being socialized in a way that less adequately equips them with effective coping patterns" (p. 15). Age, on the other hand, proved to be an irrelevant factor in effectiveness of coping. Education and income, on the other hand, did have a direct bearing on both self-attitudes of mastery and self-esteem and coping effectiveness. The three groups, in summary, that appear to be at a disadvantage in the relative absence of personality characteristics and response repertoires which proved to help alleviate emotional distress are women, the less educated and the poorer. Unfortunately, as Pearlin and Schooler note, these are also the groups which tend to be exposed to the greater hardship. This observation lends some urgency to the need to understand the processes by which coping responses and resources are developed. As a final note, Pearlin and Schooler observe that much of our coping is 87 directed toward finding ways of dealing with problems that we cannot avoid and situations where possible individual action is limited. Such coping at best provides but a thin cushion to absorb the impact of imperfect social organization. Coping failures, therefore, do not necessarily reflect the shortcoming of individuals; in a real sense they may represent the failure of social systems in which individuals are enmeshed, (p. 18) One domain of inquiry which was deliberately excluded from Pearlin and Schooler's study was the study of strains associated with role or status transitions which occur in the normal life cycle. Another area they excluded was the conflict associated with unusual and unexpected crises. Each of these areas has been examined by other authors (e.g. McCubbin et al, 1980). It is not possible, for the present purposes, to examine the extensive body of literature on coping with crises, but a brief look at one author's view of strategies for coping with role transitions will be helpful here. First, however, it will be useful to look at a recent approach to research on coping which combines some of the major features of the approaches previously discussed. Combining the Coping Models of Hall and Pearlin and Schooler; A New Approach Elman and Gilbert (1984) investigated strategies for coping with role conflict and coping effectiveness using an innovative method which combines aspects of Hall's model (1972) with some of the stress management strategies discussed by Pearlin and Schooler (1978). Elman and Gilbert make a distinction between problem-focussed coping strategies, aimed at changing the role conflict situation itself, and emotion-focussed strategies which serve to alleviate the emotional reaction arising from the stressful situation. In their view, Hall's three major types of coping are all problem-focussed. These three types and their definitions were adopted as coping categories in Elman and Gilbert's study, with one modification. Hall's Type III, Reactive Role Behaviour, is replaced by a category called Increased Role Behaviour, where one strives to meet existing role demands by such methods 88 as working more efficiently and planning time more carefully to try to fit everything in. To the problem-focussed categories borrowed from Hall, Elman and Gilbert add two emotion-focussed strategies taken from a general stress and coping model developed by Lazarus and Launier (1978). The first emotion-focussed strategy is Cognitive Restructuring which refers to changes in attitudes which modify the meaning of the conflict situation for the individual. Examples of this strategy would be adopting the attitude that "it could be a lot worse" or "this is a natural feeling/reaction for working parents." (This category is the same as Pearlin and Schooler's (1978) second major category, responses that function to control the meaning of the problem.) The second emotion-focussed strategy which Elman and Gilbert refer to is Tension Reduction. This category includes such behaviours as changes in eating, sleeping or exercise patterns and/or overt expression of feelings about the situation. This last category of coping was not directly addressed by either Hall or Pearlin and Schooler. Elman and Gilbert also investigated a number of factors related to choice of coping strategy and to coping effectiveness: self-esteem, career engagement, spouse support and social support. A questionnaire was mailed to a sample of married professional women who were employed full-time and had pre-school children. Like many previous studies, their questionnaire asked women about the conflicts they generally experience between parental and professional roles and their typical ways of handling these conflicts. Coping was measured in their questionnaire by means of 39 items pertaining to the five coping categories. Subjects were asked to indicate on a seven-point scale how typical each statement was of the ways they cope with conflicts between parent and professional roles. Examples of items used under each of the coping categories are listed below. 89 Structural Role Redefinition - Try to develop a compromise solution with others involved. Personal Role Redefinition - Reduce my involvements in one or more roles. Increased Role Behavior - Try to work more efficiently so I can get everything done. Cognitive Restructuring - Decide the areas causing me stress aren't that important. Tension Reduction - Do something to take my mind off the problem. To measure degree of conflict and coping effectiveness, Elman and Gilbert included two items which asked subjects to rate on a seven-point scale how much conflict they generally experience and how effective they generally were at handling conflicts between parent and professional roles. Other seven-point scales were used to measure career engagement, spouse support and social support. Although Elman and Gilbert predicted that the greatest coping effectiveness would be associated with use of Structural Role Redefinition and Personal Role Redefinition strategies, this was not borne out in their results. Instead, they found that the highest degrees of coping effectiveness were associated with the use of Increased Role Behaviour and Cognitive Restructuring. As predicted, the personal and situational variables had significant positive associations with coping effectiveness. They also found that lower levels of conflict were associated with higher levels of self-esteem, career commitment and social support. The strategies, in order of frequency of use, were Increased Role Behaviour, Cognitive Restructuring, Personal Role Redefinition, Structural Role Redefinition and Tension Reduction. Elman and Gilbert conclude that the women most typically used coping strategies in which responsibility for conflict reduction remains with the individual. With Increased Role Behaviour, an individual tries to "do it all" by working harder and more efficiently, and in Cognitive Restructuring and Personal Role Redefinition, one thinks about the situation differently or alters one's 90 conception of the role. Structural Role Redefinition and Tension Reduction strategies were endorsed significantly less than the three other strategies. In Elman and Gilbert's view, the relative infrequency of structural change strategies may be in part attributed to the fact that the women in their sample are at early stages of their professional careers, and may feel they cannot ask for structural changes. The demanding and less secure nature of the early period of one's career may necessitate coping strategies which may be less typical at later stages of the career cycle. Also, the fact that the professional role is still considered non-traditional for women means that these women still face skepticism from others about their presence and their abilities in their chosen fields, as well as their ability to juggle family and professional roles. The authors also speculate that professional women with young children may feel a desire and an obligation to fulfill many aspects of the parenting role rather than delegating those responsibilities, out of a sense of guilt about their perceived neglect of the parental role. They may be less likely to modify their standards, self-expectations, or personal role conceptions, since to do so would be equivalent, for them, to a reduction in career involvement which they find unacceptable. Elman and Gilbert also make an important point relating to spouse and social supports as factors in women's successful management of multiple roles. They point out that the most effective kind of role management may ultimately require an examination of the underlying assumptions and expectations associated with male and female roles and career-family involvement. Unambiguous social support for the integration of professional and maternal roles can facilitate changes in personal (and perhaps stereotypic) views of home and family responsibilities. Indeed, an internal change in role definition may be a prerequisite to external change. Self-expectations may need to be altered before a woman is willing to ask others to assume some of the duties assigned to women on the basis of their gender or to change societally based expectations for her behavior and life goals, (p. 325) 91 The perspective which Elman and Gilbert bring to the problem of role conflict and coping serves as a reminder of the importance of the context with which this review began - the social and psychological issues associated with the female role - in understanding the role conflicts women experience and what it means for them to cope effectively with these conflicts. The authors note in closing that more sophisticated approaches to the measurement of perceived role conflict and coping effectiveness would be fruitful directions for further research. Coping with Role Transitions Sales (1978) provides a useful perspective on coping in examining the ways women cope with role transitions. Role discontinuity, or stress resulting from role transitions, can be eased, according to Sales, in four ways, each of which constitutes an effective coping strategy. The first strategy is to develop one's ability to adapt to changing expectations. Flexibility will ease access into new roles and demands. The ability to respond readily to changing roles is one which may come easily to women, as they have been trained to place primary importance on the needs and expectations of others, rather than their own goals (Angrist & Almquist, 1975). The second strategy Sales identifies is to use available social supports to ease role entrance. Such supports can take a range of forms from college orientation programs, to premarriage and childbirth courses to job training programs. The third related strategy is to seek information about new roles from others. Informal communications between women can often facilitate the transition, and friends or parents may offer assistance in clarifying the expectations for an unfamiliar position. The final strategy that Sales suggests for coping with role transitions is to ensure that these are other valued roles in one's repertoire (Maas & Kuypers, 1974). The continuity provided by life roles which are in a stable pattern can lessen the otherwise radical change that can occur with the loss or addition of a significant 92 role. Thus a couple may find it easier to relocate to another community than a single person would; a woman may find it easier to return to the workforce while her children are still at home than having to cope with the double stress of loss of important functions in the parenting role and a new career role. Role Conflict and Coping Strategies of Dual-Career Couples A great many studies have been conducted in recent years on role conflict and role management of dual-career couples. Although an in-depth treatment of this literature is beyond the scope of the present review, a summary of some of the central themes of this research may be helpful here. Skinner (1980) provides a useful framework from which to examine the body of literature on dual-career family stress and coping. The broad categories in which the studies are grouped are those related to: (1) the etiology of dual-career stress; (2) the impact of strain; and (3) coping strategies. The first category focusses on the sources of dual-career family stress or role strain, including internal strain, arising within the family, and external strain, the result of conflict experienced by the dual-career family in relation to other societal structures. Research on internal strains has focussed on four main areas: (1) overload issues, including factors contributing to experienced stress; (2) identity issues, focussed essentially on gender or sex role conflicts experienced by high-achieving women; (3) role cycling issues, related to tying in the couple's role decisions to family needs through the different stages of family development; and (4) family characteristics as variables in experienced levels of role strain. Research on external sources of role strain is grouped into three categories: (1) normative issues, or conflicts associated with traditional expectations of significant others who are outside the immediate family; (2) occupational structure, where issues such as inflexibility of work hours and geographical considerations are examined as sources of stress; and (3) social network dilemmas, including the relative isolation and the family insularity which can occur in overload situations. 93 Research on the impact of role strain in dual-career families is summarized by Skinner (1980) into three types: (1) those which focus on the marital relationship, in terms of adjustment, happiness and satisfaction, as well as topics like the division of labour in child and house care; this category would also include studies which look at the impact of various levels of career involvement of the female in the couple on the level of role strain experienced; (2) the study of sex differences in experienced role stress (indicating quite consistently that role strain occurs with more frequency and intensity for the women in dual-career families); and (3) effects of the dual career situation on children. Skinner (1980) places the research on coping strategies into two very general categories: (1) coping behaviour within the family system, such as priorizing role activities, compromising and mutual support; and (2) coping behaviours involving external support systems, as in hiring outside help for child care and/or home care, associating with others who have a similar lifestyle, and restructuring work arrangements. The final subject area in the literature on dual-career couples which Skinner reviews briefly is counselling interventions. Some of the themes in this latter category are dissemination of information relevant to their lifestyle; marriage and family therapy; group support sessions; and the role of the practitioner in lobbying for institutional changes to support dual career couples. Where relevant, studies on dual-career couples have been cited elsewhere in the present review. It is clear from the above summary that many of the perspectives and approaches applied in studying conflict and coping of women as individuals have counterparts in the study of dual-career couples and family dynamics. Conclusion The preceding review has summarized the approaches which have been taken 94 to the problem of role conflict and coping. We have seen that the female role itself predisposes women to certain kinds of role conflict. We have examined a variety of conceptual frameworks which have been offered to illuminate some of the psychological and practical problems of role management. A wide range of factors have been reviewed which influence the nature and extent of the conflicts women experience. We have also looked at some of the classification schemes which summarize coping alternatives and discussed which strategies seem to work best to reduce stress or resolve conflict. Most of the research in this field has approached the issues of role conflict and coping by asking women to generalize about the conflicts they experience and the coping strategies they employ. None of the studies of role conflict described earlier developed any kind of detailed model of conflict types. Although much more attention has been paid to developing and evaluating models of coping, the two major models - Hall (1972) and Pearlin and Schooler (1978) - developed their models by asking general questions, rather than eliciting specific examples of conflict and coping situations. Much of the literature reviewed here has highlighted issues of career decision-making and the management of career in addition to other roles, yet none of the studies have drawn on clients of career counselling agencies. In order to address some of the limitations of previous research on role conflict and coping, to build on their results, and to gather new information which can be used to assess previous approaches to the phenomena, the present study will depart from previous approaches in some significant ways. The methods used in the present study are summarized next in Chapter III. 95 CHAPTER ffl METHODOLOGY This chapter will describe the research methods which were used in this study, including measuring instruments, the research design, the critical incident technique, sampling methods and characteristics of the sample, and procedures followed in collecting the data. Some of the procedures used in analyzing the critical incident data arose from decisions made during the process of analysis, in keeping with the inductive process of formulating categories using critical incident procedures (Flanagan, 1954). Since some of the specific procedures followed in the course of analysis grew out of the initial results of the study, these have been included in Chapter IV. Measuring Instruments Two measuring instruments were utilized in this study: (1) the Client Survey: Women's Employment Project; and (2) the Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle. These questionnaires are displayed in Appendix A and Appendix B, respectively. Client Survey: Women's Employment Project The Client Survey: Women's Employment Project (W.E.P.) was designed by the author in order to develop a profile of the client population at the W.E.P. in terms of (Part A) demographic characteristics, and (Part B) counselling services utilized and degree of satisfaction with the services obtained. Only Part A of the Client Survey is directly relevant to the present study. Part B addresses the program evaluation needs of the W.E.P. (Canada Employment and Immigration Commission), and therefore results of this part are not included among the data reported here. 96 Variables from Part A of the Client Survey which are directly relevant to the present investigation include: Age, Marital Status, Parental Status, Education Level, Occupation, Employment Status and Income (see Appendix C). Responses on these variables were matched with subjects' responses on the Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle. Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle Instrument Development. The Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle was developed by the author in order to collect "critical incidents" (Flanagan, 1954) of role conflict as well as descriptions of how these conflict situations were handled. These descriptions were used to develop comprehensive classification schemes for Types of Role Conflict and Coping Strategies. The role conflict examples recounted by the subjects included situations which they consider that they handled effectively, as well as those which were handled ineffectively. For situations they handled ineffectively, subjects were asked to generate alternate, preferable coping strategies to the ones they actually utilized, i.e. ways that they would like to have handled the situations. These descriptions were used to develop a comprehensive classification scheme for Hindsight Strategies. Some aspects of the design of the Role Conflict questionnaire have been adapted from Holahan and Gilbert's Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle (1979a,b). Specific features which have been adapted for this questionnaire include the notion of rating the importance of life roles, some of the definitions and examples, and self-ratings on a seven-point scale for degree of conflict and effectiveness of strategies. Original aspects of the questionnaire design are, most importantly, the use of the Critical Incident Technique to investigate the problem of role conflict and coping, and the case examples used. Hindsight strategies also have not previously been collected, nor have comparisons been made between role value and time/energy 97 invested in role-related activities. The crucial advantage of the Critical Incident Technique over Holahan and Gilbert's technique is the reporting and rating of concrete incidents rather than generalized behaviour patterns. In this way, much more precise behavioural descriptions can be obtained, and much more refined conclusions can be reached about the "critical requirements" for effective coping in particular types of conflict situations. The C r i t i c a l Incident Technique. The Critical Incident Technique as described by Flanagan (1954) has been useful in research in counselling and psychotherapy, where "current techniques emphasize overall impressions, opinions and reports of single cases" (p. 354). By obtaining self-reported behavioural descriptions of a collection of single cases, both intrasubject and intersubject comparisons can be made. In the realm of individual psychology, intrasubject behaviour patterns can shed light, for example, on the standards women employ in evaluating their own behaviour in conflict situations. Looking at intersubject patterns of conflict and identifying coping situations which are problematic for large numbers of women will be instructive in developing counselling interventions and programs tailored to the expressed needs of the client group. The Critical Incident Technique is designed "for gathering certain important facts concerning behaviour in defined situations" (Flanagan, 1954, p. 335). These facts are collected "in a rather objective fashion with only a minimum of inferences and interpretations of a more subjective nature" (Flanagan, 1954, p. 335). In order to ensure that subjects in this study understood the "defined situations" which they were asked to report, the meaning of role conflict was clarified in the questionnaire. The objectivity of reports was maximized by avoiding questions requiring interpretation of events such as "Why did this problem occur?" and focussing instead on descriptions of what happened (behaviour). The Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle has been developed according 98 to guidelines and procedures described by Flanagan (1954). As Flanagan notes, these procedures are intended as a flexible set of principles, to be modified to suit the needs of the investigation at hand. The procedure Flanagan (1954) describes consists of five steps: (1) Establishing general aims of the activity being investigated; (2) Developing plans and specifications for the study; (3) Collecting the data; (4) Analysing the data; and (5) Interpreting and reporting of results. The first step in the procedure Flanagan describes is establishing a fundamental orientation in terms of the general aims of the activity being investigated. In the present context, it does not seem to make sense to attempt to identify the aims of "role conflict activity." It makes more sense to think about the aims of coping activity, although the specification of aims in this case would rest on a set of theoretical assumptions about the nature of personality and human motivation, looking at coping, for example, in terms of stress or conflict reduction or a striving to maintain inner or interpersonal equilibrium. Alternatively, the aims of specific coping activities may be inferred retrospectively in examining coping styles. We can infer, for example, that coping behaviours designed to appease others might be differently motivated than behaviours where the subject clearly asserts her own needs and wants in dealing with others' expectations of her in a given role. Looking more closely at studies where the Critical Incident Technique has been used, it seems that identifying the general aims of an activity is less important in studies of personality than in studies, for example, in a training context, where aims are more easily specifiable in terms such as "efficiency," "development," "production" and "service" (Flanagan, 1954, p. 337). The purpose of a study by Eilbert (1953), for example, was to develop a functional description of emotional immaturity and to classify immaturities into a comprehensive set of categories. Similarly, Flanagan (1978) wanted to develop an empirical definition of the quality 99 of life of adults and build a set of categories for classifying quality-of-life components. In cases such as these, the aim of the activity being investigated is less relevant to identify in planning the investigation. More useful would be to apply the results of the study in exploring motivational questions once the behaviours have been classified. Both Flanagan (1954) and Andersson and Nilsson (1963) caution that the "criticalness" of a given behaviour in determining a "success" or "failure" outcome cannot be objectively established in situations where the aims of the activity can only be stated in very general terms. This is illustrated in Andersson and Nilsson's study on reliability and validity of the Critical Incident Technique in analysing the job of store managers in a grocery company (Andersson & Nilsson, 1963). In this study, critical incidents of successful and unsuccessful store managing were collected from four groups - superiors, store managers, assistants and customers. Since there was no specific statement of appropriate aims for store managers' activities, no objective criteria were available for assessing the criticalness of incidents reported. "The policy of the business enterprise was defined in very general terms. For that reason, the approval or disapproval of a certain behavior expressed by the person giving information must be taken as the only criterion of whether an incident was critical or not" (Andersson 5c Nilsson, 1963, p. 398). The aims of store managing activity could perhaps be more clearly stated after the critical incidents had been collected. Both the problem situations selected and the remedial action described imply that certain assumptions are operating in the mind of the observer concerning the aims of the activity in question. As a result of the ambiguity of aims for coping activity, subjects in this study can be seen as in the best position to judge the "criticalness" of conflict incidents from their own experience. More refined information was obtained by having subjects assign numerical ratings to their own experiences. The "Degree of Conflict" variable provides a quantitative means of discriminating the severity 100 of conflicts experienced. Similarly, "Degree of Effectiveness" provides a quantitative measure of the extent to which coping behaviour was judged successful or unsuccessful. What is not clear is the extent to which the subject perceives her coping behaviour as causing successful or unsuccessful outcome (causal attributions), or whether the subject assumes that luck or other uncontrolled factors had the decisive impact on the outcome. However, patterns of behaviour which are identified from the classification of incidents should suggest directions for further research to investigate the influence of causal attributions (e.g. Weiner, Russell & Lerman, 1979) on coping behaviour. Developing plans and specifications for the study, the second step in Flanagan's procedure, relates primarily to the process of establishing validity and reliability. This second step will thus be described in the following section (Validity and Reliability) in terms of methods used to maximize the objectivity of data collected. Since the final three steps in Flanagan's procedure pertain to the collection and analysis of data and the interpretation of results, they will be discussed later in Chapter III and in Chapter V respectively. Validity and Reliability. Since this instrument is new and has only been tested in a small pilot study, no validity has yet been established. However, establishing validity is less of a problem in research where behaviour is observed than in psychometric assessment. "Although [establishing validity] is frequently a significant problem in psychometric assessment, it is less so in intensive experimental [or descriptive] research because we are more likely to be observing the actual actions or characteristics of an individual and not inferring them from a test score" (Anton, 1978, p. 129). Validity is instead assured as much as possible by maximizing the accuracy of subjects' self-reports. Flanagan (1954) points out two of the most important factors affecting the accuracy of subjects' reports. "The accuracy and therefore the objectivity of judgments depends on the precision with which the characteristic has been defined 101 and the competence of the observer in interpreting this definition with relation to the incident observed. In this latter process, certain more difficult types of judgments are required regarding the relevance of various conditions and actions on the observed success [or failure] in attaining the defined purpose for this activity" (p. 335). Validity of the Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle has been partially established in this study by minimizing the risk of inaccurate reporting in a number of ways. One factor serving to minimize this risk is that the focus of the investigation is on women's perceptions of their own experience and behaviour, and as such "subjective" self-report is appropriate; "objective accuracy" is less relevant in this study than "subjective accuracy." The questionnaire asks subjects to report on extremes of behaviour, namely high conflict-highly effective coping and high conflict-ineffective coping situations. Since written questions and reports cannot elicit some of the subtleties which might emerge through personal interviews, subjects are asked to report behaviour judged as extreme or outstanding in terms of both effectiveness and ineffectiveness. The rationale for focussing on extreme incidents is described by Flanagan (1954), "It is well known that extreme incidents can be more accurately identified than behavior which is more nearly average in character" (p. 338). As a check on the extremity of reports, subjects were asked to rate degree of conflict experienced and degree of effectiveness for each incident and coping strategy reported. Another procedure to maximize the accuracy of results is that subjects are asked to report recent incidents. This ensures that incidents are representative of actual happenings and distorted as little as possible by the passage of time and inaccurate memory. In addition, Flanagan (1954) notes that the accuracy of reports should be apparent from the data itself. "Evidence regarding the accuracy of reporting is usually contained in the incidents themselves. If full and precise details are given, it can usually be assumed that this information is accurate. Vague reports 102 suggest that the incident is not well remembered and that some of the data may be incorrect" (p. 340). In a small pilot study, ten clients of the W.E.P. were requested to complete the Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle and return it by mail. Results of the pilot sample indicated that concepts and instructions seem to be understandable to subjects, and the incidents reported fit the desired criteria. In contrast to validity, the reliability of classification schemes is much easier to establish and to quantify. As Flanagan states, "Once a classification system has been developed for any given type of critical incidents, a fairly satisfactory degree of objectivity can be achieved in placing the incidents in the defined categories" (p. 335). Reliability of the three classification schemes in the present study was established, as Flanagan and Andersson and Nilsson (1963) suggest, by having independent raters classify a sample of incidents into the classification schemes. About 70% of the incidents were selected as samples for measuring the reliability of each of the classification schemes (Role Conflicts, Coping Strategies and Hindsight Strategies). Each sample consisted of one prototypical example of each category, and a number of additional incidents from the larger categories, proportional to their frequencies. The measure of reliability is the extent to which raters can correctly classify incidents into the schemes provided. Reliability is thus expressed in terms of percent agreement. Results of the reliability measures in this study are summarized at the end of Chapter IV. Design The present research study falls into the category of "descriptive research" (Borg & Gall, 1979, p. 405), or more specifically the method of systematic data collection entitled "survey research." This study addresses both of the objectives 103 of survey research described by Borg and Gall (1979): (1) to collect information, and (2) to explore relationships between different variables. The method to be used in the present study would be considered a "cross-sectional survey," since the information will be collected essentially at one point in time. For purposes of this study, demographic variables were actually measured several months prior to collecting information on role conflict and coping. However, little change was expected to occur on demographic variables in the time between administration of the two questionnaires. Relationships between variables in the study were examined in terms of "time-bound association," since measures, for example, of type of conflict and coping strategies occurred at a single point in time, namely the time when the questionnaire was administered. Although time-bound associations may be noted in relationships between variables, no causal relationships can be inferred from these associations. Sampling and Data Co l lect ion Procedures The target population of this study was women seeking career counselling at the Women's Employment Project, Vancouver, British Columbia. This centre is operated by the federal government (Canada Employment and Immigration Commission), and offers women a variety of employment services, such as information on occupations, the labour market and training opportunities, vocational testing, and career counselling for individuals and groups. A list of the major services available at the W.E.P. is provided in Part B of the Client Survey: Women's Employment Project (Appendix A). One of the services offered by the W.E.P. which is unique among the federal centres in British Columbia which provide employment services (Canada Employment Centres) is the availability of personal counselling, that is, counselling focussed on exploration and problem-solving across a range of lifestyle, relationship and 104 personal issues. Although many of the conflicts or difficulties clients bring to personal counselling are not, strictly speaking, "career-related," many of them have a critical influence on career decision-making, for example, weighing the potential effects of career decisions on family, friends, lifestyle and so on. A total of 2,054 women visited the W.E.P. during the first thirteen months of its operation, from the time the centre opened in May 1980 to the end of June 1981. For the Client Survey, a "cluster sample" was chosen, consisting of 851 clients who visited the W.E.P. during the period from September 1980 to February 1981. This sample constituted about 41 percent of the total W.E.P. clients during that thirteen-month period. The cluster sampling method is appropriate in this instance, as indicated by Borg and Gall (1979): "In cluster sampling the unit of sampling is not the individual but rather a naturally occurring group of individuals. Cluster sampling is used when it is more feasible or convenient to select groups of individuals than it is to select individuals from a defined population" (p. 187). A relatively large sample of 851 clients was chosen in order to allow for the possibility of a low response rate to the first questionnaire, the Client Survey: Women's Employment Project, and still have a sufficient number of responses for a useful evaluation of the centre's services. Although the analysis of the evaluation results was beyond the scope of the present study, participation in the role conflict study was predicted on return of a completed Client Survey questionnaire, where subjects were also asked to indicate whether they were willing to participate in further research (see Appendix A). The Client Survey: Women's Employment Project was mailed to the 851 clients in October 1981, along with a cover letter (Appendix A), outlining the purposes of the program evaluation, as well as the role conflict research. Several weeks later, a follow-up letter (Appendix A) and second copy of the Client Survey were sent to the non-respondents (except the 146 or 17% whose questionnaires were 105 returned marked, "moved, no forwarding address," "not at this address" or "no such address"). A total of 339 completed Client Surveys were received, a response rate of just under 40 percent. Of the 339 respondents to the first questionnaire, 250 subjects or 74 percent indicated that they were willing to participate in the second phase of the research. The majority of these 250, 170 or 68 percent, indicated that they preferred to have the second questionnaire mailed to them. The remaining 32 percent (80 women) stated that they would prefer to meet with the researcher in small groups and discuss the subject before completing the Role Conflict questionnaire. In July 1982, the Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle and cover letter (see Appendix B) were mailed to the 170 subjects who indicated a preference for this method of participating in the research. Several weeks later, a follow-up letter (see Appendix B) and second copy of the questionnaire were sent to non-respondents. In both cases, stamped, self-addressed envelopes were enclosed with the questionnaire. A total of 36 usable questionnaires were received (21% of those mailed). Several others completed only the role rating sections. Some wrote only a note or letter, describing why they chose not to complete the questionnaire and/or provided general observations, thoughts or feelings about role conflict. Only those who gave at least one specific example of a role conlfict situation and how they dealt with the situation were included as data in the present study. Three meetings were also set up at a local community centre for subjects who indicated a preference for this method of participating in the research. This yielded an additional ten usable questionnaires. The 46 usable questionnaires were then reviewed to separate out those which contained career-related incidents, since the present analysis was to be restricted to career-related conflicts. The seven questionnaires which provided no career-related incidents were thus excluded from the study, resulting in a total 106 of 39 subjects and 93 critical incidents of role conflict and coping. A breakdown of these incidents by conflict type is included in Chapter IV. Code numbers were used to identify subjects on both questionnaires, so that responses on the Client Survey could be matched with subjects' responses on the Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle. Demographic data on the 39 subjects was thus extracted from information contained in the first questionnaire. A summary of the characteristics of the sample is provided in the following section. Character ist ics of the Sample Demographic data on subjects is outlined in summary form in Tables 1, 2 and 3. Table 1 gives frequency distributions for each of the major characteristics of subjects which were collected in the study. Tables 2 and 3 show cross-tabulations of variables which were likely to pertain most directly to women's experience of role conflict: Employment Status by Student Status (Table 2) and Marital Status by Parental Status (Table 3). Some of the main characteristics of subjects which are highlighted in these tables are summarized below. Table 1 indicates that, of the 39 subjects in the sample, the majority (64%) were employed: 17 full-time and 8 part-time. Fourteen subjects or 36% were not employed, and of these only 5 were actively seeking work. Fifteen of the subjects were students: 9 full-time and 6 part-time, and 3 were planning to begin a program of studies within the next six months. Table 2 shows that the largest group of subjects (30.8%) were employed full-time and not students. The next largest group (23.1%) were full-time students. Next in order of frequency were the 12.8% who were employed part-time and not students; and the 10.6% who were neither employed nor students (probably seeking career counselling with the intention of returning to the work force). Those who were combining work and student roles (perhaps the most likely candidates for role overload) represented 12.8% of subjects. Three of the subjects (7.7%) were 107 Table 1 Background Information on Subjects (n = 39) Variable n % of Total Employment Status Employed Full-time 17 43.6 Employed Part-time 8 20.5 Not employed 14 35.9 Actively seeking work (4) (10.3) Not actively seeking work (10) (25.6) Student Status Student Full-time 9 23.1 Student Part-time 6 15.4 Will be student within 6 months 3 7.7 Not a student 21 53.8 Occupation (Employed only, n = 25) Managerial, Administrative and Related 1 3.8 Social Sciences and Related 2 7.7 Teaching and Related 5 19.2 Medicine and Health 3 11.5 Artistic, Literary and Performing Arts and Related 1 3.8 Clerical and Related 7 26.9 Sales 4 15.4 Service 1 3.8 Product Fabricating, Assembling and Repairing 1 3.8 Subjects' Annual Income $0 - 4,999 19 48.7 $5,000 - 9,999 9 23.1 $10,000 - 14,999 4 10.3 $15,000 - 19,999 5 12.8 $20,000 - 24,999 1 2.6 $25,000 - 29,999 1 2.6 (Table continued. . . ) Table 1 (continued) 108 Variable n % of To ta l Partners ' Annual Income (n = 10) Under $10,000 1 10.0 $10,000 - 19,999 2 20.0 $20,000 - 29,999 2 20.0 $30,000 - 39,999 1 10.0 $40,000 or More 2 20.0 Not Indicated 2 20.0 Education Grade 10 or Less 3 7.7 Grade 11 0 0 Grade 12 5 12.8 Vocational (Post-Secondary) 4 10.3 Bachelor's Degree (Complete or in Progress) 12 30.8 Post-Graduate (Complete or in Progress) 12 30.8 Not Indicated 3 7.7 Age 20 - 24 4 10.3 25 - 34 17 43.6 35 - 44 12 30.8 45 - 54 5 12.9 55 - 64 1 2.6 Mar i t a l Status Single 15 38.5 Separated or Divorced 14 35.9 Married 7 17.9 Living with Partner (Not Married) 3 7.7 Parental Status (Age of Youngest Ch i ld L iv ing at Home) No Children 22 56.4 Youngest Child Pre-school Age 7 17.9 Youngest Child Elementary School Age 6 15.4 Youngest Child Secondary School Age 1 2.6 Youngest Child Other 3 7.7 ( T o K l o p A n t i n n o H ^ 109 Table 1 (continued) Variable n % of Total Parental Status (Number of Children Under 18 Living at Home, n = 14) One Child 7 50.0 Two Children 6 42.9 Three Children 1 7.1 Table 2 Employment Status by Student Status (n and % of Total) Employment Status Student Status Not Employed Employed Full-time Employed Part-time Total Not a Student 4 (10.6%) 12 (30.8%) 5 (12.8%) 21 (53.8%) Student Full-Time 9 (23.1%) 0 0 9 (23.1%) Student Part-Time 1 (2.6%) 2 (5.1%) 3 (7.7%) 6 (15.4%) Will Be Student Within 6 Months 0 3 (7.7%) 0 3 (7.7%) Total 14 (35.9%) 17 (43.6%) 8 (20.5%) 39 (100%) 110 Table 3 Marital Status by Parental Status Parental Status Total Marital Status No Children Age of Youngest Child Pre-school Elementary School Secondary School Other Single 13 (33.3%) 2 (5.1%) 0 0 0 15 (38.5%) Separated or Divorced 5 (12.8%) 3 (7.7%) 4 (10.3%) 0 2 (5.1%) 14 (35.9%) Married 2 (5.1%) 1 (2.6%) 2 (5.1%) 1 (2.6%) 1 (2.6%) 7 (17.9%) Living with Partner 2 (5.1%) 1 (2.6%) 0 0 0 3 (7.7%) Total 22 (56.4%) 7 (17.9%) 6 (15.4%) 1 (2.6%) 3 (7.7%) 39 (100%) I l l employed full-time and planning to become students within the next six months. Only one subject was a part-time student and not employed. Although annual income of the subjects ranged up to $30,000 per year, the majority (11) of those reporting income (22) earned less than $10,000 per year, while 9 earned between $10,000 and $20,000 per year. The 17 subjects who did not report an income were added to the $0-4,999 category of annual income, making a total of 48.7% of subjects in the lowest income category. Although education levels of the subjects in this study range from grade nine to doctoral degrees, the majority were quite well educated: only 3 subjects had less than grade 12, while 28 (about 72%) had at least some post-secondary education or training, and 12 of these 28 (about 31% of subjects) had education beyond the level of a bachelor's degree. (Given the corresponding income levels of this group of subjects, one could surmise that a number of the employed women may be "underemployed," not utilizing their full level of education, skill or ability in their jobs. This may, in fact, be one of the significant reasons that they are seeking career counselling.) The subjects in this study range in age from 21 to 57 years, with a mean age of 34.3 years. TWo thirds of the subjects fell between the ages of 25 and 39 years. Almost 75 per cent of subjects were currently either single (15), separated or divorced (14). Seven (18%) of the subjects were married and three were single but living with a partner. About 44% of the women (17) were parents. Eight of these had pre-school children at home, 7 had elementary school aged children at home, 3 had secondary school aged children at home, and 4 had other children (generally post-secondary) living at home. Table 3 shows that, of those with children living at home (17 subjects), the largest group (7 subjects) had a youngest child who was pre-school age. However, almost as many (6 subjects) had a youngest child who was elementary 112 school age. Only four subjects had teenage or older children as the youngest child living at home. A total of 11 subjects were single parents (not living with a partner), representing 64.7% of the parents in the sample. Of the 14 parents with pre-school and/or school aged children at home, only 3 of these had a combination of pre-school aged and school-aged children. The average number of children among the 14 parents with pre-school and/or school aged children at home was 1.5 (7 subjects had one child, 6 had two children and one had three children). Only 5 of the 14 parents with school-aged or younger children at home reported using daycare services, either cooperative, community or private. Of the 14 parents with pre-school and/or school-aged children at home, only 4 were currently married and living with their partners (husbands). Nine of these women (about 65%) were single parents (7 through separation or divorce, 2 never married). One woman was divorced but currently living with a new partner and the children. Of these 14 parents, 8 were employed (5 part-time and 3 full-time) and 4 were students (3 full-time and one part-time). Three of the employed mothers were also part-time students. Two of the mothers in the sample were not employed. The majority of subjects (56.4% or 22 subjects) had no children. Most of those (18 subjects) were either single, separated or divorced. The four other subjects without children were living with partners; two of these were married. Data Analysis The section which follows outlines the important considerations in analysis of critical incidents, as described by Flanagan (1954). The application of these principles and procedures to the present study is also summarized. Analysis of C r i t i c a l Incidents The purpose of the analysis of data collected in the present study by means of the Critical Incident Technique is to provide a functional description of role conflict and coping activity in terms of specific behaviours. The efficient summarization and description of data will facilitate the effective use of results for many practical purposes, while sacrificing as little as possible of the comprehensiveness, specificity and validity of the data. Flanagan (1954) identifies three primary problems involved in the analysis of critical incident data: (1) the selection of the general frame of reference that will be most useful for describing the incidents; (2) the inductive development of a set of major area and subarea headings; and (3) the selection of one or more levels along the specificity-generality continuum to use in reporting the behaviours. Each of these problems is discussed below. Frame of Reference. The most important consideration in selecting a frame of reference for reporting the data is that of the uses to be made of the data. Other considerations are ease and accuracy in classifying the data, relationship to previously developed definitions and classification systems, and issues related to interpreting and reporting. It is hoped that the classification schemes for role conflict and coping which are developed out of the present study will be useful for a variety of purposes. The investigation of the experience of role conflict in its various forms ideally will contribute to both a theoretical and practical understanding of role conflict and the strategies women judge to be most effective in coping with role conflicts. Practical applications to counselling will include implications for the design of developmental, preventive and remedial programs intended to assist women in dealing with anticipated or existing conflicts. Preventive programs would be particularly important for women in periods of role transition, where taking on a new role or dropping one requires new coping skills (Schlossberg, Troll & Leibowitz, 1978). Mothers, for example, who anticipate re-entering the work force or educational system after several years dedicated to full-time childrearing could be assisted in anticipating the role conflicts which are most likely to occur and the family adjustments which will probably be required (Brooks, 1978). A program for re-entry mothers could be developed based on the results of the present study to address issues related to the management of work and family roles (e.g. Astin, 1977; Farmer, 1975; Gray, 1980a; House, 1980; Shelton, 1976). In order to maximize the usefulness of the classification schemes developed for role conflict and coping strategies for both theoretical and practical purposes, the frames of reference adopted should be applicable to identifying, measuring and training in the competencies required for effective coping (Klemp, 1979). Each type of problem situation (role conflict) will likely require specific competencies, although some generic competencies may apply to successful coping across situations. The classification schemes developed should facilitate the translation of findings into practical applications such as developing competency-based programs. As such, the terminology should be as free as possible of specialized or technical jargon, yet precise enough to be accurately descriptive. In order to prevent systematic bias in the formulation of categories, no previously developed classification schemes for role conflict or coping strategies will be utilized in the present context. Instead, relationships to previously existing models will be examined and discussed once the categorization has been completed. Category Formulation. Flanagan (1954) describes five steps which should be followed in the formulation of categories to classify critical incidents. These steps will be applied in the present study toward the analysis of incidents of role conflict, coping and hindsight strategies. The five steps of the analysis outlined by Flanagan are as follows: (1) Sort a relatively small sample of incidents into piles that are related to the frame of reference selected; (2) Briefly define each category and classify additional incidents into these categories; during this process, note any needs for redefinition and the 115 development of new categories; (3) Modify tentative categories as indicated and continue the process until all the incidents have been classified; (4) Divide the larger categories into subgroups and place together incidents that describe very nearly the same type of behaviour; (5) Re-examine definitions for all the categories and major headings in terms of the actual incidents classified under each. Generality Versus Specificity of Behavioural Descriptions. The final step in the analysis of critical incidents is to determine the appropriate level of generality-specificity to use in reporting the data. This involves weighing the relative merits of the simplicity achieved with a small number of categories versus the elegance and specificity of a more elaborate system. According to Flanagan (1954), a general classification scheme might consist of about twelve broad behavioural categories, whereas a more detailed system might contain as many as several hundred categories. The judgment as to the appropriate number of categories is to be determined according to the needs of the particular study. It was difficult to estimate in advance the number of categories which would be appropriate in classifying role conflicts and coping strategies. It would seem that somewhere between twenty-five and fifty categories of role conflict and coping would provide a suitable balance between generality and specificity for the present purposes. Flanagan (1954) presents six guidelines for establishing major headings and subheadings and describing behaviour at the selected level of generality-specificity. These guidelines, briefly, are as follows: (1) The classification system should be clear-cut and logical with a discernible and easily remembered structure; (2) Headings should be stated in terms which are meaningful to the reader without the need for detailed explanation; (3) Categories should be homogeneous, that is, headings should be parallel in content and structure; they should be neutral in character, not defining either unsatisfactory or outstanding behaviours; (4) Headings of a given type should all be of the same magnitude or level of importance; (5) Headings 116 should be selected such that the summarization of findings in terms of them will be easily applied and maximally useful; (6) The list of categories should be comprehensive and cover all incidents having significant frequencies. Decisions to be Made in the Course of Analysis It is clear from Flanagan's description of procedures to be used in analysing incidents that many decisions about category formulation must be made during the course of analysis. Information yielded at each stage of analysis is used to gradually refine the categories and their definitions. Since decisions arising during the process of analysis grew out of the initial results of the study, they will be summarized next, in Chapter IV. Following a description of these decisions and the rationale for each will be the classification schemes for role conflict, coping strategies, and hindsight strategies with definitions and illustrative examples of each. 117 CHAPTER IV RESULTS The main purpose of this chapter is to summarize the results of the analysis of critical incidents. However, it will be useful first to outline some of the dilemmas which arose and the decisions which were made in the process of analysing the critical incidents. One reason for doing so is to enable potential replication of the study, to leave open the possibility of retracing the steps, perhaps making different decisions, and coming up with alternate ways of analysing or presenting the data in this or related studies. Making explicit the decisions made in the present study is also a way of, as much as possible, remaining "true to the phenomena" of role conflict and coping strategies as experienced by the women in the study. Stanley and Wise (1983) point out how "being true to the phenomenon" necessarily involves explicitly acknowledging the role of the researcher. 'Be true to the phenomenon' is an axiom often stated within the naturalistic approach [to research]. It suggests that we should attempt to represent reality as it is experienced and lived by the people we carry out research on. But the only way that it is really possible to do this is for those people themselves to present their own analytic accounts of their own experiences. . . Researchers should [also] present analytic accounts of how and why we think we know what we do about research situations and the people in them. . . we should be much more concerned about presenting ourselves and our understandings of what is going on, by examining these in their context, (p. 167-168) In other words, just as the context in which a subject's conflict and coping occur is important to understanding their meaning, so should decisions made in the process of analysing the data be acknowledged as important influences on the final form which the results assume and the conclusions which are reached. 118 Dilemmas and Decisions Made During the Process of Analysis The decisions made during the process of analysing data in the present study are summarized below under three headings: (1) the selection of the general frame of reference thaf will be most useful for describing the incidents; (2) the inductive development of a set of major area and subarea headings (category formulation); and (3) the selection of one or more levels along the specificity-generality continuum to use in reporting the behaviour. These headings correspond to the three problems in the analysis of critical incidents which Flanagan described (1954), as outlined in Chapter III. Frame of Reference Two issues arose at the outset in setting the general frame of reference for describing the incidents. The first task was to separate out career-related from non-career related incidents. The second issue was to decide what kind of superordinate categories would provide the most useful framework for later analyses and applications. Separating Out Career-Related Incidents. A total of 163 critical incidents of interrole and intrarole conflict, generated by 46 subjects, formed the initial pool of conflict items (an average of 3.54 incidents per subject). These incidents were to be sorted into two categories: career-related and non-career related. The basic criterion for considering an incident "career-related" was whether one or more career roles were centrally highlighted in the subject's description of the conflict situation. To be "career-related," it was essential that the conflict was attributed by the subject primarily to career wants, expectations or demands, including conflicts between career and other roles. Career-related roles included three given to the subjects in the Questionnaire on Role Conflict and Lifestyle: Employee, Student and Professional (no subjects 119 reported conflicts in the Employer role); as well as some labelled by subjects as "Self as a Self-Actualizing Person" conflicts, but which highlighted career issues. Other roles involved in career-related conflicts were those subjects defined themselves, listed under the "Other" category in the role ratings section of the questionnaire (section A), namely Job-Seeker, Tradesperson, Breadwinner and Provider. The number of incidents which were clearly career-related, at this preliminary stage of analysis, was 87. Thirteen incidents were identified as marginally career-related. In these cases, a career role was not the primary focus in the subject's description of the conflict, yet in deciding what to do about the conflict, she was clearly taking into consideration the likely impact of alternate courses of action on her career role. Table 4 summarizes the rationale and decisions made in relation to each of the marginally career-related incidents. It was decided that six of these incidents should be included in the career-related category. The remaining seven incidents were classified as non-career related and were thus excluded from subsequent analyses. One interesting point that becomes clear in reviewing the decisions made in relation to the thirteen marginally career-related incidents is that boundaries are often not clear between roles involved (or not involved) in a conflict situation. Career conflicts often have spillover effects in personal relationships, and vice versa. Conflicts which are "acted out" in one arena sometimes appear to originate in an entirely different role or roles, and such original sources of conflict are sometimes not explicitly addressed by the parties involved. Adding the six incidents from the marginal to the career-related category resulted in a total of 93 career-related incidents. This represented 57% of the total (163) incidents reported. Superordinate Categories. The second issue related to selecting a general 120 Table 4 Decisions Regarding Marginally Career-Related Incidents Incident Career- Rationale for Decision Number Related 10-2 No Conflict occurs during period that subject is unemployed and looking for work, but relates mainly to disagreements with partner over household matters. 106-4 Yes Conflict concerns desire to celebrate after completion of exams; sister wants her to attend niece's birthday party. Could be a broader issue in relationship with sister, but arises in this case due to the student role. 168-3 Yes Conflict of not having enough time to spend with son, having to cook and clean. Son spends 82 hours a day with a babysitter. The problem arises since she is working all day as student. 191-1 No Subject describes conflicts with family which arise since she hasn't chosen traditional roles (could be work or other). Description of conflict is too vague and ambiguous. 531-3 No Pressure from mother for subject to visit her in Winnipeg. Subject mentions having no money to travel, since she is not working, but when working she wants to holiday elsewhere. Issue seems to be ongoing problem with mother, which apparently occurs regardless of her work situation/status. 539-2 Yes New role of employee requires her to make arrangements for getting her horses ridden. She no longer has time to ride them herself due to work demands. 539-3 No Conflict concerns personal business of house she owns jointly with mother. New husband feels he should take over house matters; subject disagrees. Conflict is more a partner issue. 121 Table 4 (continued) Incident Career- Rationale for Decision Number Related 567-1 No Subject is interested in travelling to Australia/New Zealand. She wants to go with boyfriend, but this conflicts with his preoccupation with his career. Primarily a partner/leisure issue; career association is only with partner's career. 677-1 Yes Subject feels pervading self-doubt regarding her actions and priorities, always feeling that she should be studying when doing other things. May be broader than career (student) issue, but subject describes effects as felt primarily in student sphere. 677-2 No Subject describes process of questioning what she should be doing with her life, but in very vague terms, not specific to career. Description is too ambiguous. 711-2 No Issue described is wanting to escape from demands of being a parent and student, but information provided is not specific enough. 721-4 Yes Mother pressures her to visit more frequently, while subject is preoccupied with studies. Issue with mother seems to be broader than studies, but strongly manifest in mother not valuing/respecting subject's "trying to be somebody in this world." 744-1 Yes Incident described makes reference to parent, student and leisure/self roles. She is interested in taking a gymnastic course, but student and parent commitments make that difficult. 122 frame of reference for describing the incidents was to decide what kind of superordinate categories would be most useful as a basic structure for classifying role conflicts. Given that virtually all of the previous research on role conflict has stressed the salience of the role or roles involved in the conflict, and examined types of conflict and coping in relation to which roles are involved, it was decided that there would be clear advantages to retaining the "role(s) involved" as the first criterion in setting up the classification schemes. It was apparent that such distinctions would be necessary to enable the results of the present study to be compared with those of previous researchers. The decision concerning superordinate categories was also appropriate in view of the specific questions (in Chapter I) which this study was intended to address. Secondary Question number one, in particular, highlights the roles involved in the conflict as a central feature, or general frame of reference, for the analysis: "Does the nature of role conflicts differ depending on the role or roles involved in the conflict, or do conflicts associated with different roles cluster into similar patterns?" Since coping strategies have also been most often discussed in the literature in relation to the roles involved, it was decided that the superordinate categories for coping and hindsight strategies needed to take a parallel form to the conflict types. The most general level for classifying coping strategies was thus tied to roles and conflict types, for example, "Coping Strategies for Career-Parent Conflicts." Such a method of organizing coping types was also necessary to answer Secondary Question number 2d, "Do the factors which differentiate coping judged effective versus ineffective differ depending on the role(s) involved in the conflict?" Category Formulation One issue that became apparent early in sorting incidents into superordinate categories was that use of the Self as a Self-Actualizing Person category would be problematic. It was clear that subjects had interpreted the category a number 123 of ways and that it would be desirable to place the conflicts subjects labelled as "Self" conflicts under other superordinate categories, if possible. One example will be useful here to highlight some of the decisions made in reclassifying the "Self" incidents. One case where the "Self" role was used for interrole conflicts was labelled as an "Employee vs. Self" conflict by the subject. The conflict described took place on the job, where the demands of the subject's superiors began to violate her sense of personal values. She wanted a job/career involvement which would be consistent with her personal values. Given the fact that, in her perception, there seemed to be no opportunity to change the circumstances of her current job situation, her dilemma became whether, when and how to leave the job and find a new one. A career transition (at least a job change and possibly a change in career direction) was thus prompted by her desire to get away from the negative aspects of her current job. One way of classifying the above conflict situation would be to consider it an intrarole conflict within the employee role, where her expectations of herself (and the job) differ from those of her superiors. However, the career transition element of this situation seemed to make it significantly different than the other on-the-job conflicts in the Conflicts within the Employee Role category. To place this incident in an interrole conflict category, Employee versus Self, was another alternative, but as mentioned previously, to do so would serve to blur the boundaries between interrole and intrarole conflicts. Conflicts subjects described as interrole conflicts with the Self and another role were not sufficiently different from intrarole conflicts (where expectations of self differed from expectations of others). The way out of this dilemma was to recognize that a fundamental distinction needed to be made between conflicts associated with day-to-day management of a relatively stable role (or roles) and those which were associated with a process 124 of changing a role, or role transitions. Given that there was some evidence to suggest that role transition themes might be a common thread across conflict types, the 93 career-related incidents were reviewed with this distinction in mind. At least four general kinds of role transition situations could be found among the incidents: (1) a current role and a potential role are in conflict with each other; (2) uncertainties associated with initial stages of acquiring a new role; (3) letting go of a role which is no longer wanted or needed (by choice) or dealing with involuntary loss of a valued role; and (4) a role has disappeared, and no new role has yet taken its place (typically characterized by feelings of loss and being "in limbo"). The largest group of conflicts involving role transitions - in fact, the largest of all the superordinate conflict categories - was Conflicts Associated with Anticipated Change in Career Role (Career Transitions). These conflict situations included students who were discontent with their student role and considering a change or making decisions as they moved into the job market, other dilemmas which arose for non-students in the process of job-hunting, and a variety of other issues which came up as career changes were contemplated. Most of the conflicts subjects labelled under "Self as a Self-Actualizing Person" - both interrole and intrarole -could be subsumed under this new intrarole conflict category of Career Transitions. Intrarole conflicts were thus divided into three superordinate categories: I. Conflicts Associated with Anticipated Change in Career Role (Career Transitions) (26 incidents) II. Conflicts within the Employee Role (13 incidents) III. Conflicts within the Student Role (8 incidents) The latter two categories above reflected conflicts associated with relatively stable employee or student roles, where no reference was made in the conflict described to any desire or intent to change job or career direction. Some of the other cases under the "Self" category seemed to relate more 125 to role overload kinds of problems, such as how to manage one's career and find time to address one's own needs in addition to those of others. In many cases, these "Self" conflicts were tied to partner or family issues, such as the desire to spend more time relaxing and enjoying life with partner or family. Most of these conflicts could be subsumed under Career-Parent or Career-Partner interrole conflict categories. Sometimes subjects seemed to use the Self role as a "catch-all" or "miscellaneous" category, where it seemed as if many of the subject's roles were in turmoil or flux, and open for reassessment. Most of these incidents could be readily subsumed under the Career Transitions category. Other role transitions were described in partner and parent categories. In some cases, for example, the career role was relatively stable and the partner role was in transition. In others, the partner role was relatively stable and the career role was in transition. Sometimes both roles were described as relatively stable, and in other cases both career and partner roles were in transition. In reviewing the group of conflict situations where role transitions were evident, it was clear that a change in one role seemed often to have impact on other roles. This seems to result from the fact that lifestyle changes are implied in most role transitions, and that other relationships are often affected by these changes. Given that role transitions were apparently significant in interrole as well as intrarole conflicts, it seemed desirable to incorporate this distinction, where applicable, in categorizing interrole conflicts. This distinction proved to be useful and could be readily incorporated in both Career-Parent and Career-Partner conflict categories. The only difference was that for interrole conflicts, the conflicts associated with role transitions are distinguished at the level of basic categories, whereas for intrarole conflicts, this distinction is made at the superordinate category level. (This is due to the fact that the "roles involved in the conflict" is the first 126 criterion for classifying conflicts. When only one role is involved in the conflict, the question of whether the role is in transition is most salient. When more than one role is involved in the conflict, the fact of one role being in transition is necessarily secondary to the roles themselves in classifying the incidents, because both transitional and non-transitional conflicts have to be incorporated into the classification schemes.) After separating out Career-Parent conflicts (21 incidents) and Career-Partner conflicts (14 incidents), the remaining interrole conflicts fell into three small categories: Conflicts Associated with Managing Two Career Roles (Employee vs. Other Career Role) (4 incidents); Conflicts Between Career and Family Member Roles (i.e. Sister, Daughter, Aunt) (4 incidents) and Conflicts Between Career and Friend Roles (3 incidents). A summary of all of the conflict types, both intrarole and interrole, by superordinate category, is provided in Table 5. Another question which arose during the process of category formulation was where to place the dividing line between conflict situations and coping strategies. Subjects were asked on the questionnaire to describe their conflict situations and what they did (or how they handled the conflict). In the two cases where subjects were asked to describe conflict situations they handled effectively, subjects themselves separated the conflict from the coping strategy. For the two examples of conflict situations handled ineffectively (one interrole and one intrarole example), subjects were asked to describe "your conflict situation and how you handled it" all in one narrative. For this latter group of situations, the dividing line between conflict and coping had to be made by the researcher. In some cases, it seemed that the dividing line between conflict and coping had to be set arbitrarily, and in other cases it seemed more clear-cut. Decisions made in each case had to be consistent with the subjects construction of the situation - what the central problem was from the subject's point of view. The level of precision 127 Table 5 Career-Related Role Conflicts, by Superordinate Category Conflict Type (Role(s) in Conflict) n % of Total Intrarole Conflicts (47) (50.5) Conflicts Associated with Anticipated 26 28.0 Change in Career Role (Career Transitions) Conflicts within Employee Role 13 14.0 Conflicts within Student Role 8 8.6 Interrole Conflicts (46) (49.5) Conflicts Between Career and Parent 21 22.6 Roles Conflicts Between Career and Partner 14 15.1 Roles Conflicts Associated with Managing Two 4 4.3 Career Roles (Employee vs. Other Career Role) Conflicts Between Career and Family 4 4.3 Member Roles (Sister, Daughter, Aunt) Conflicts Between Career and Friend 3 3.2 Roles Total 93 100.1* c Total exceeds 100% due to rounding. 128 possible in making such decisions was dependent in part on the ability of the subject to conceptualize and articulate the salient features of the situation (from her point of view). As with any "eyewitness reports," individuals varied in their ability to recall specific events and their ability to observe and report significant features of an event. Some subjects provided considerable background information and detail, while others were very brief and to the point. (One example of a conflict described in very brief, but clear, terms was, "I am a cancer nurse and suffered 'burn-out' after four years of it." This was a Conflict Associated with Anticipated Change in Career Role, or Career Transition.) Separating the conflict from the coping strategy was difficult in some cases where it seemed to require artificially arresting what is in reality a process. A conflict is experienced and some initial action is taken. The consequences of this initial action may reveal new aspects of the conflict or create new conflicts. Further action may then be taken to deal with the whole problem, part of the problem, or several problems at once. To further complicate the matter, conflicts can be conceptualized on many levels. For example, a frustrating experience in the student role may be conceptualized as "having a bad day," having a problem with an instructor which needs to be addressed, or as a "last straw" which triggers a desire to change one's program of studies, or to change career direction entirely. With the incidents subjects provided in the present study, the conflict and coping strategy were separated after the fact, based on the information provided by the subject. This required staying as close as possible to the meaning or interpretation of events described by the subject. Examining a collection of similar incidents often pointed to constructs used across subjects, and these were used, where possible, in category formulation. Since conflicts and coping strategies were classified separately, it was sometimes necessary to edit the subject's description by adding a phrase for 129 clarification of the conflict which was implicit in the coping strategy. This was done, for example, in cases where subjects stated a reason why the coping was effective which suggested new information about salient aspects of the conflict. In other cases, information that the subject included in the conflict was really part of the coping strategy, and incidents were edited accordingly. The editing of incidents was only done where necessary for clarification. An effort was made to stay as close as possible to the subject's wording, so as to retain as much as possible of the meaning and "flavour" of the incidents, as reported by the subjects. Table 6 illustrates the kind of process which was involved in editing some of the incidents. This particular example serves as a useful illustration due to its relative simplicity, and the fact that it highlights three of the issues and procedures in data analysis described earlier: (1) where to place the dividing line between conflict situation and coping strategy; (2) adding phrases or information to the conflict situation which the subject described under the coping strategy; and (3) editing out information which the subject provided under the conflict situation which was more appropriately part of the coping strategy. Once the preceding decisions were made to "refine" the critical incident data, some fundamental questions remained concerning category formulation. These questions were tied to Flanagan's third issue in data analysis, namely the selection of an appropriate level or levels along the generality-specificity continuum to use in categorizing incidents. A summary of these questions and the decisions made in relation to them is provided next, in the following section. The Selection of Levels of Generality-Specificity in Categorizing Incidents The level of generality-specificity which was possible in classifying incidents was affected by two factors: (1) the frequency of incidents in each superordinate category; and (2) the amount of detail which subjects provided in the incidents. For superordinate categories with larger numbers of incidents (13 or more), it was Table 6 Illustration of the Process of Editing Incidents for Clarification Confl ict Type: Interrole - Effective Roles Involved: Career (Student) vs. Friend Original Version, As Described by Subject: Confl ict Situation: My friend said that she needed to talk, she was obviously very upset. I said I was on my way to the library to study, but I said_we_ _ould go out for coff_e_the_next day_ and t.altc Coping Strategy: We did talk and got everything out and made her feel a lot better. The test_I_was_studymg for I did well and my friend was happy as well as myself. Observations: The importance of the subject's need to study is only revealed in her description of her coping strategy, where she mentions having an upcoming test. One can infer that she was weighing the urgency of her friend's need against the urgency of her need to study, and that if her studying that day was of a more routine nature, she might have responded more immediately to her friend's request. The compromise solution she describes clearly took her own need to study for the test into consideration, and thus the fact of her upcoming test should be noted in the conflict situation. Also, her suggestion that she and her friend go out for coffee the next day is part of "how she dealt with the situation" and therefore should be part of the coping strategy rather than the conflict situation. Revised Version: Confl ict Situation: My friend said that she needed to talk, she was obviously very upset. I was on my way to the library to study for an upcoming test. Coping Strategy: In view of the importance of my studying, I suggested we could go out for coffee the next day and talk. We did talk the next day and got everything out and made her feel a lot better. It turned out that I did well on the test that I was studying for and my friend was happy as well as myself. 131 possible to summarize incidents under general (basic) categories, and incorporate more specific information into subcategories. This third level of categorization (i.e. sub-categories or subtypes of conflict and coping) was possible for four of the superordinate categories: Conflicts Associated with Anticipated Change in Career Role (Career Transitions) (26 incidents); Conflicts within the Employee Role (13 incidents); Career-Parent Conflicts (21 incidents); and Career-Partner Conflicts (14 incidents). Since both conflicts and coping strategies had identical frequencies, the levels of categorization possible for coping strategies was parallel to conflict types. For the smaller superordinate categories, namely Conflicts Within the Student Role, Career-Family Member Conflicts, Conflicts Associated with Managing Two Work Roles and Career-Friend Conflicts, it was only possible to group incidents into basic categories. In these cases, the richness of the data is best revealed through illustrative examples, rather than the categories themselves, and it is evident that further research would be necessary to attain a level of detail in categorization which would correspond to that provided in the larger superordinate categories in this study. Finally, it was necessary to decide on the specific vantage points or frames of reference to use in classifying incidents. In reviewing the incidents, it was clear that the context in which the conflict occurred would likely be important to incorporate somehow in the classification scheme for Conflict Types. However, it seemed that there were at least seven possible ways to view or describe the context of the conflict: (1) when and where the conflict occurred (e.g. "in the living room after dinner" or "during my third year in university"); (2) background events, e.g. long-standing conflicts with complex histories vs. unique (once only) conflict situations; 132 (3) who the conflict was with (or was it just "with self"?) (4) what happened (critical events or behaviours, e.g. an argument, or "he walked out. . . ") (5) what the conflict was about; the content or perceived structure of the situation (e.g. "we were arguing about who should be responsible for certain chores" or "he was trying to get me to back down, but I refused"); (6) what the conflict meant to the subject (e.g. a crucial turning point in the relationship; "this was the last straw," "something had to give"); (7) the source of the demands or expectations which were in conflict (e.g. whose/what demands or expectations are in conflict? Are just her own expectations of herself involved, or do one or more other people's expectations also come into play? What are the perceived causes of the conflict from the subject's point of view (causal attributions) ?) These seven possible points of view for classifying conflict incidents are not mutually exclusive or exhaustive. Any number of combinations of the above were possible. Further, it seemed important, in remaining "true to the phenomena," not to assume that the frame of reference which fit best for one type of role conflict (e.g. Career-Parent) would fit best for all types. At this stage the last three points of view or frames of reference were of most interest. It was expected that the most useful categories would incorporate any or all of the following: the meaning of the event for the subject and its perceived structure (including the essential elements of the conflict and the subject's relationship to significant other(s) involved in the conflict) and the causes of the conflict from the subject's point of view. Decisions which were made in relation to the above - namely the specific frame(s) of reference to be used in classifying each group of incidents - are outlined in the three sections which follow. These sections describe 133 the classification schemes for role conflicts, coping strategies and hindsight strategies. Classification Scheme for Career-Related Role Conflicts The classification scheme for career-related role conflicts is summarized in Table 7. The section which follows contains a more detailed description of the classification scheme, including definitions of categories (except where headings seemed to be self-explanatory), an outline of the central themes which emerged in categorizing each group of conflicts, and examples of each category. The three superordinate categories of intrarole conflict are described first, proceeding from the largest group - Conflicts Associated with Anticipated Change in Career Role - to progressively smaller categories. Interrole conflicts are then summarized in a similar fashion, in order of frequency (i.e. the number of incidents per category). Intrarole Conflicts I. Conflicts Associated with Anticipated Change in Career Role (Career Transitions) Number of Incidents: 26 Definition/Process: Anticipating or in process of some kind of career change; conflict in deciding about personal career directions; deliberating on goals and strategies for achieving them; weighing advantages and disadvantages of alternative courses of action. Central Themes in Categorization: Conflicts Associated with Anticipated Change in Career Role (Career Transitions) was the largest of all the role conflict categories. This group of conflicts is distinguished from other intrarole conflicts by the fact that Table 7 Classification Scheme for Career-Related Role Conflicts Role or Roles in Conflict (Superordinate Categories) Conflict Types and Sub-Types (Basic Categories and Sub-Categories) Mean Frequency Conflict Rating Examples INTRAROLE CONFLICTS I. Conflicts Associated with Anticipated Change in Career Roie (Career Transitions) Discontent with current job and desire to pursue new career direction and/or develop other aspects of self Desire for job or career change focussed primarily on getting away from negative aspects of current job. (Specific future direction uncertain.) Desire for creative self-expression and dissatis-faction with current job (including related health problems) prompt career transition. 6.11 6.67 A.l . a) Demands of boss/job contradict all her per-sonal aims and values, but doesn't want reputa-tion of quitting or to lose rights to U.I.C. b) Job is secure, but not enjoyable (pay is poor, little opportunity for advancement, and problem with co-workers). Apprehensive and uncertain about next career steps. c) Dislikes current job and looking for new one. Uncertain about whether to take offered job, unclear about desired career direction. d) Long hours of job result in exhaustion and little time to enjoy interests or social activity. Burned out, lonely and "angry with life," decided to quit, but uncertain of next career steps. e) Job difficult due to ever-changing demands of bosses, training non-existent, communication poor, treated with indifference and lack of respect. After mastering difficult job situation, thinking about seeking better job. 5.00 A.2. n) Working full-time constrains ability to explore creative interests. Development of work-related health problems triggers decision to make job/career change. b) After several years, feels bored with job, decreased emotional/intellectual challenge and commitment. Wants to pursue new career direction (theatre, dance) which better fits with values and interests. js. Table 7 (cont'd) Mean Role or Roles in Confl ict Confl ict Types and Sub-Types Frequency Confl ict Rxamples (Superordinate Categories) (Basic Categories and Sub-Categories) Rating Conflicts Associated with Anticipated Change in Career Role (Career Transitions) (cont'd) Discontent with current job and desire to pursue new career direction and/or develop other aspects of self (cont'd) D. Desire to better integrate diverse aspects of self/ roles (interests, work, political commitment, parenting) prompts career transition. Unhappy, discontent in current student role, and considering potential change in career direction. 1. Unhappy in student role, but uncertain what new direction to take. 5.00 6.80 6.75 A.3. a) Divergent demands of interests, work, political commitment parenting all at odds with each other. Looking for career alternative which simplifies and better integrates these. B. l . a) Unhappy as college student, always thinking of alternative activities/career options which would be preferable, but uncertain where she would be most comfortable (afraid it is herself she is most uncomfortable with, not student-hood). More interested in learning about new subject of interest than in going to class. C. Financial advantages of transition to working full-time weighed against freedom of current situation or liaving desired time to develop other aspects of self. 1. Working part-time allows time for developing creat-ivity, but working full-time desirable or necessary for financial reasons. 7.00 4.80 4.33 2. a) Struggling with upgrading course part-time as well as working. Finds self more drawn to exploring new area of interest (film editing) than in going to class. C . l . a) Likes working part-time with time to develop creativity, but needs more money to be able to travel with partner. b) Likes working part-time, experimenting with "changing lifestyles and options," but must reluctantly return to full-time for financial reasons. c) Offer to change from part-time to full-time. Higher paid position is tempting, but anticipated pressures of offered position weigh negatively against freedom of present situation. CO c n Table 7 (cont'd) Mean Role or Roles in Conflict Conflict Types and Sub-Types Frequency Conflict Examples (Superordinate Categories) (Basle Categories and Sub-Categories) Rating Conflicts Associated with Anticipated Change in Career Role (Career Transitions) (cont'd) C. Financial advantages of transition to working full-time weighed against freedom of current situation or having desired time to develop other aspects of self, (cont'd) 2. Wanting to (re-)enter work force to attain financial independence, but working full-time would mean loss of time for other favoured activities. D. Conflicts associated with assessing job prospects/ potential jobs and the process of looking for work. 1. Looking for temporary work and needing money; whether to take second-rate job immediately avail-able or hold out for something better. Few jobs available in field of training; whether to wait for related job or take unrelated job and not use training. Most jobs related to field of past training are not of interest to her; whether to seek related job or pursue further studies in area of interest. 4. Likes job and recent advancements in vocation, but wanting to return "home", where no comparable job prospects exist now. Finds self unmotivated in process of looking for work, as well as other aspects of life. 5.50 C.2. a) Wants financial independence and opportunity for developing career, but couldn't work full-time and pursue favoured sports (equestrian) activity (and care for and feed horses). b) Conflict between search for financial independence and developing professional role through student training and desire to develop other aspects of self through other activities. 6.60 7.00 6.00 7.00 D.l. 2. 6.00 6.00 4. 5. Agency offers temporary Jobs which are not appealing, but would meet financial need. Pros-pect of better job would mean waiting and risk of not working. Jobs related to B.A. are preferable but scarce. Offered unrelated job which is immediately avail-able, but would not draw on training in any way. After graduation, discovered that she was not interested in jobs related to subject of studies. After taking unrelated job to pay off debts, needs to decide whether to take further studies or look for job related to past training. Current job situation is very satisfying, but loca-tion is problematic. Strongly drawn to return "home" but finding comparable job opportunity there is extremely unlikely. Trying to look for work, but lacking motivation and not sure why; also feeling unmotivated in other aspects of life. Difficulty mobilizing energy causes inner turmoil. Table 7 (cont'd) Mean Role or Roles in Conflict Conflict Types and Sub-Types Frequency Conflict Examples (Superordinate Categories) (Basic Categories and Sub-Categories) Rating I. Conflicts Associated with E. Conflicts associated with "having to prove self" at early Anticipated Change in Career Role (Career Transitions) (cont'd) stages of career, self-doubts regarding ability to succeed in career role. 1. Avoided challenging program entrance requirements due to fear of failing. 2. Feeling of having to prove self in career-related project at early stages of career, feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy. 7.00 7.00 Not Indicated E . l . a) Avoided writing entrance exams for M.B.A. program due to fear of failing and made up excuses for not pursuing program. Feels dishonest, disappointment and guilt. 2. a) Asked to write article on own career develop-ment to date. In talking with editor, feels self-doubt about ability, regret about missed opportunities, failure (when comparing self to others) and panic. Conflicts within Employee Role A. Conflicts in relationship with boss/supervisor (person(s) 7 6.57 in authority) 1. Internal conflicts/fears about assertion of wants 2 7.00 to employer. 2. Being chastised by boss for inappropriate behaviour in 2 7.00 face of bosses' unclear or contradictory expectations. A . l . a) Fear of being too aggressive with boss. b) Reluctant to assert self with boss, to ask for change in inconvenient work schedule. 2. a) Contradictory expectations of two bosses result in being unfairly chastised. b) Angrily criticized by boss for not conforming to standard procedure, when expectations were never clarified in advance. 3. Conflicts associated with challenging traditional sex role expectations, as woman in work role which is non-traditional for women, within work environment where traditional sex role expectations prevail. 4. Being blocked by boss from doing desired project. 6.00 6.00 3. a) Boss expects her to do after-hours socializing with "distinguished male visitor" (colleague). She feels expected role is not as professional colleague but as sex object. 4. a) Employer unwilling to allow her to take on desired professional activity/project. CO Table 7 (cont'd) Mean Role or Roles in Conflict Conflict Types and Sub-Types Frequency Conflict Examples (Superordinate Categories) (Basic Categories and Sub-Categories) Rating n. Conflicts within Employee Role (cont'd) Conflicts in relationship with co-workers, subordinates or clients. 1. 2. How to deal with a co-worker or client who is antagonistic, aggressive or overly demanding. How to deal with irresponsible behaviour of co-workers or subordinates. 6.00 5.50 7.00 B. l . a) Co-worker is overly demanding of attention, disrupts work. b) Co-worker dislikes her and personally antagonizes her. c) Co-worker places considerable demands for support/friendship during personal crisis. d) Aggressive client demands service beyond the scope of her authority/responsibility. 2. a) Fear that subordinates are taking advantage of her reluctance to confront their irresponsible behaviour. b) Co-workers' irresponsible/objectionable behaviour towards clients affects her work. III. Conflicts within Student Role A. Conflicts associated with challenging traditional sex role expectations, as woman student in field which is non-traditional for women, within environment where tradi-tional sex role expectations prevail. 6.67 A . l . Instructor, through discriminatory action, blocks her from gaining experience in area of career interest (which is non-traditional for women). 2. Fear that unprofessional behaviour of younger female students (flirting, playing games with males) undermines professional relationship she wants with instructors (i.e. causes male instructors not to take women seriously). 3. Professional expectations of working in her trade/craft conflict with attitudes/expectations of male co-workers, who seem to see her always as a woman first, rather than as a professional co-worker. CO oo Table 7 (cont'd) Mean Role or Roles in Conflict Conflict Types and Sub-Types Frequency Conflict Examples (Superordinate Categories) (Basic Categories and Sub-Categories) Rating in. Conflicts within Student Roie (cont'd) Frustration at having to take required courses or do required assignment, despite lack of interest or talent. 6.00 B. l . Questioning value of specific course assignment stimulates broader questioning of appropriateness of career goal. 2. Required to take courses which did not interest her as prerequisites for program entry. 3. Disappointed in academic performance in required courses, despite disinterest in courses from outset. C. Instructor not available to assist with difficulties. 5.00 C . l . Instructor preoccupied with demanding student and not available for assistance. D. Having to meet unexpected financial requirements of educational institution 4.00 D. l . Administration makes unexpected request for her to pay additional fees. INTERROLE CONFLICTS IV. Conflicts Between Career and Parent Roles A. Child care demands inhibit career pursuits. 10 1. Pursuing desired activities within current work or 5 student role constrained by child care needs/ responsibilities. 6.33 6.60 Ability to pursue further education or take desired job constrained by child care needs. 5.50 A . l . a) Child's behaviour disrupts studying. b) How to arrange for care of children during work trip out of town (which is important to career). c) Increasing investment in work role at same time as children demand increased attention. d) Career progress disrupted by taking necessary time out for birth of child. 2. a) Offered job she really wants, but proposed schedule conflicts with son's morning needs. b) Demands of caring for pre-schooler hamper ability to undertake desired educational pursuits. c) Whether to move to obtain work in view of potential impacts of move on children and self. CO CO Table 7 (cont'd) Mean Role or Roles in Conflict Conflict Types and Sub-Types Frequency Conflict Examples (Superordinate Categories) (Basic Categories and Sub-Categories) Rating IV. Conflicts Between Career and Parent Roles (cont'd) A. Child care demands inhibit career pursuits, (cont'd) 3. Ability to pursue desired career direction constrained 2 by immediate financial need to support self and family. B. Demands of career role limit time available to spend with children/self. 1. Limited time to spend with child due to demands of studies and domestic chores (cooking, cleaning). Concern about child's welfare during off-school hours while mother is at work. 6.50 A.3. a) Precarious financial position of current student status threatens ability to support children. b) Desire to pursue additional training towards more challenging career, but in difficult financial position, supporting children. Returning to work necessary to support family, but constrains ability to spend desired time with children/self. Student and child care demands constrain pursuit of recreational and/or other interests. 5.50 5.50 B . l . a) Children want mother to play with them in evening, but preparing meals and household chores consume most available time when she is not studying. 5.50 2. a) Child (10 years) objects to after-school care while parents are working, so is allowed to stay home on own until parent gets home. Soon becomes clear that child is lonely Bnd watching too much T.V. b) Child in private school has more days off than public school children. How to occupy child on those days while mother is at work. 6.00 3. a) Concern about teenagers' lack of supervision while she is at work. Return to work is finan-cial necessity, but time/energy outside office hours too limited for comfort. 5.00 4. a) Desire to take course for health, recreation, enjoyment, but demands of part-time student role already limit time at home with small child. Table 7 (cont'd) Mean Role or Roles in Confl ict Confl ict Types and Sub-Types Frequency Confl ict Examples (Superordinate Categories) (Basic Categories and Sub-Categories) Rating IV. Conflicts Between Career and Parent Roles (cont'd) C. How to manage parenting, career and demands of other roles and avoid "overload". 1. How to pursue career and other interests and juggle family/house care responsibilities. 3. 6.20 6.00 Potential financial advantages of returning to work weighed against anticipated tension of "spreading self too thin." Managing parenting, part-time work and student responsibilities. In everything she does, gets feeling she should be doing something else. 6.00 7.00 C.l. a) Irregular work schedule requires flexibility in house care and child care arrangements. How to ensure that standards for household order are maintained. b) How to find employment situation where she can use training, be relatively flexible and independent, and support self and children, and at the same time have sufficient time for children and pursuit of other interests. c) How to continue responsibilities as single parent, have satisfactory family life, and pursue professional career. Whether to arrange day care full-time or part-time. 2. a) Staying at home preferred to allow for desired time with family. Returning to work would enable family to live more comfortably, but mother concerned about likely strains of over-extending self. 3. a) Juggling studies, parenting and part-time work makes it difficult to take time out for self. While engaging in one role, continuously dis-tracted by the demands of other roles. V. Conflicts Between Career and Partner Roles A. Maintaining established relationship with partner in conflict with career wants/needs. 1. Her intensive interest/involvement in work/studies and partner's limited support or interest in her career pursuits combine to create tension/distance in relationship. 11 6.09 6.00 A.l. a) Partner upset at her intensive involvement in studies and reduced interest in sex; partner threatens possibility of seeking involvement elsewhere. Table 7 (cont'd) Mean Role or Roles in Conflict Conflict Types and Sub-Types Frequency Confl ict Examples (Superordinate Categories) (Basic Categories and Sub-Categories) Rating Conflicts Between Career and Partner Roles (cont'd) Maintaining established relationship with partner in conflict with career wants/needs, (cont'd) 1. Her intensive interest/involvement in work/studies and partner's limited support or interest in her career pursuits combine to create tension/distance in relationship (cont'd) Partners' wants/needs differ regarding geographic location of work. Partner's wants/demands present obstacle to her initiating or continuing desired career pursuits. A . l . b) Feels rivalry with partner at her intense involvement in developing career while partner's career is declining or at impasse. c) On completion of intense work project, she feels let down and self-doubt, needs to talk. Partner wants sexual contact, but shows minimal interest in her feelings or work concerns. 6.33 2. a) "Lover-at-home vs. transient tradesperson." Looking for work in trade requires travel and potential relocation. Little work option for her in community where partner works, work in partner's field is scarce everywhere else. b) Partner wants them both to move to pursue his vocational/avocational interests. She wants to stay where she is in job and they need her income for living expenses. (Also, she doesn't like moving and is afraid he won't want to stay once he's there.) c) Partners both established and happy in careers, but site still pulled to return "home," where there are no job/career prospects now. Partner unable to help her deal with feelings, relationship deteriorating. 5.50 3. a) Subtle or overt pressure from partner that she stop pursuing "slow-evolving career," being part-time student. Partner wants her to start to work to support him and family, so he can pursue own career interest. b) Partner's preoccupation with own interests and non-support of her needs/wants for self/career development prompt her to consider separation and return to work force. Table 7 (coift'd) Mean Role or Roles in Confl ict Confl ict Types and Sub-Types Frequency Confl ict Examples (Superordinate Categories) (Basic Categories and Sub-Categories) Rating V. Confl icts Between Career and Partner Roles (cont'd) A . Maintaining established relationship with partner in conflict with career wants/needs, (cont'd) 4. Juggling of career and partner/family/household demands creates feeling of "overload." 6.50 A.4. a) Partner cooperative in sharing child and home care responsibilities, but demands of her work limit leisure time with partner/family. b) Partner non-cooperative as she begins to pursue own career, relationship in jeopardy. Partner refuses to support/assist or share household responsibilities. Potential partner relationship may interfere with career pursuits (conflict associated with anticipated lover/ partner involvement). 1. 2. Attracted to potential romantic relationship with co-worker(s) but concerned that such involvement would undermine success, respect, comfort in work role. 6.67 6.50 Involvement in potential partner relationship may disrupt plans for further education. 7.00 B. l . a) Attracted to instructor but fears that romantic involvement would undermine or destroy pro-fessional relationship (concerned about keeping respect, working in a male-dominated profession). b) Fearing complications of romantic involvement with co-worker(s), yet drawn to them due to shared interests, etc. 2. a) Former partner wants to resume relationship, but her plans for further training will require completion elsewhere. VI. Conflicts Associated with A . Balancing job schedule/requirements with need for 3 5.33 A . l . F.mployer asks her to work overtime. Conflicts Managing Two Work Roles study time/attending classes. with plans to work on student assignment. (Employee vs. Other Career Role) 2. Takes time off from job to study, but needs more. Fears negative reaction from supervisor. 3. Having class right after work interferes with dinner. Table 7 (cont'd) Mean Role or Roles in Confl ict Confl ict Types and Sub-Types Frequency Confl ict Examples (Superordinate Categories) (Basic Categories and Sub-Categories) Rating VI. Confl icts Associated with B. Confl ict associated with scheduling freelance work in Managing Two Work Roles addition to job. Employee vs. Other Career Role) (cont'd) 1 4.00 B. l Must attend meeting for freelance work during job hours. Call off sick and later receive questioning remarks from boss. VR. Confl icts Between Career and Family Member Roles (i.e. Sister, Daughter, Aunt) A . B. Sister or mother does not appreciate, respect or value her career (student) pursuits, and requests/demands that they spend more time together. Scheduling of two "special oecasions n conflict - one to celebrate career achievement and the other a family gathering. 6.67 A . l . Younger sister demands frequent social contact and does not appreciate heavy demands.of older sister's studies. Younger sister gets angry at being turned down, making it harder for the older one to study. 2. Mother occasionally calls to ask why daughter never visits. Daughter resents that mother does not recognize importance of studies or value her daughter's career aspirations. 6.00 B.l Wants to celebrate student victory with boyfriend, but sister expects her to attend niece's birthday party. VIII. Conflicts Between Career and Friend Roles A . Managing time demands of work/studies and arranging social time with numerous friends. B. How to attend to pressing demands of both work/studies and friend roles simultaneously, when friend is upset and wants or needs support, to talk. C . Asking favour of friends (care of her animals for extended period of time) during transition to working full-time creates resentment. 6.00 A . l . Onset of studies necessitates change in habitual pattern of contact with friends. New schedule makes it difficult to find time for all different groups of friends. 7.00 B . l . Friend is upset and wanting to talk. Subject has pressing need to study at that time. 4.00 C . l . Previous pattern of involvement in sport and care of animals must change due to demands of full-time work. Recruiting friends' assistance repeat-edly during transition period begins to undermine friendships. 145 a central feature of the conflict appeared to be a clear desire or need for a change in one's career status, and where the subject was in conflict concerning contradictory, incompatible or unclear expectations of herself with respect to this change. Although at first glance, many of these conflicts might appear to be similar to Conflicts Within the Employee or Student Role, the Career Transitions group were different in that they involved major role changes, such as taking on a new or expanded career role (e.g. a new job or program of studies) or dropping a role (e.g. leaving a job or discontinuing one's studies). Conflicts Within the Employee or Student Roles, on the other hand, could be seen as conflicts in maintaining an existing role. In the latter two groups of conflict, there was generally no indication that the subject was considering resolving an on-the-job conflict, for example, by leaving the job. The current role is instead taken as given and apparently not open for major reassessment at that particular point in time. The conflicts in the Career Transitions category are also different from conflicts in some of the interrole categories, such as Career-Parent or Career-Partner, in that the issues that the subject is confronting appear to be relatively uncontaminated by the demands of significant others in her life. Instead, the subject tends to be weighing "what is best for me." Other examples in this category did take into consideration other roles in the subject's repertoire, such as accommodating needs for leisure or self-development in one's career choices. However, even in these cases, what remains significant and central to these conflicts is the subject herself - the direction she would like her life to take and the difficulties associated with undertaking career changes. (As mentioned earlier in this chapter, other career transition issues emerge under Career-Parent and Career-Partner categories, but given the salience of other roles, besides career, which were also involved in these conflicts, it seemed 146 most appropriate to classify them separately, with the other interrole incidents involving the same pair of roles.) At the first level of categorization of Conflicts Associated with Anticipated Change in Career Role, it seemed important to differentiate the nature of the different career transitions that subjects described. The five basic kinds of transitions which were evident formed the five basic categories in this group. These basic categories, in order of the frequency of incidents, are as follows: (1) wanting to leave one's current job to pursue a new job or career direction (9 incidents); (2) feeling dissatisfied as a student and considering potential change in career direction (5 incidents); (3) weighing the possibility of full-time versus part-time work (5 incidents); (4) deliberating on issues which arise in the process of looking for a new job (5 incidents); and (5) establishing oneself at the early stages of one's career (2 incidents). At the next level of categorization, the basic criteria which seemed to be most important in identifying subcategories were the specific themes or meaning of the conflicts for the subjects. The subcategories were formed to reflect both sides of the conflict, namely what appeared to be prompting the desire for a career transition and what were the main obstacles for the subject to implementing the desired change. Basic Categories, Sub-Categories and Examples of Conflicts Associated with Anticipated Change in Career Role A. Discontent with current job and desire to pursue new career direction and/or develop other aspects of self 1. Desire for job or career change focussed primarily on getting away from negative aspects of current job. (Specific future direction uncertain.) 147 Central Issues or Themes: - Hours of work result in exhaustion and reduced enjoyment in off-work hours; irregular work schedule inhibits subject's ability to plan leisure time activities - Job was misrepresented to subject from outset (i.e. if she had known realities of job from beginning, she would not have accepted it) - Boss difficult to work with - Expectations of boss contradict subject's personal values; job seems to require subject to change her personality in ways she finds unacceptable - Alternative of unemployment unattractive, as subject wants "to settle down and work hard" - Quitting job would affect entitlement to unemployment insurance benefits - Continued stresses of job result in "burn-out" - Job secure but pay is poor; little or no opportunity for advancement; supervisor has drinking problem - Subject fears insecure position of having to start new job with new company - Uncertain about what new career direction to pursue - Subject decides to look for new job due to unpleasant aspects of current job, and to quit when she finds a new one - Personnel agency tries to influence subject to accept job which she is not sure she is interested in; subject's lack of clarity about career goals makes decision-making difficult Example (Conflict Situation 432-1): Conflict rating: 7 Last fall I was so fed up with my nursing job that I handed in my resignation. There were several factors which prompted this decision. Our shifts are 12 hours, which meant that a working day or night was spent at work only. I was. too exhausted on_m^ 148 day_s_off_to get much enjoyment out of li f e. Because days off varied each week it was impossible to_set_up_ any_ ^ e£kly_sUuattons where_ I £ould devejcp_ an interest in other Kteas or_rnee;t other £eoj>le. So many times I had to forfeit social events because work interfered. I became burnt out with my patients, lonely^ bored and angry_ with life. So, after de£iding_to q^ uit^ I was Ieft_haying_ io_d£cide _what my next c_a£ee_r_s_te£ would be^ 2. Desire for creative self-expression and dissatisfaction with current job (including related health problems) prompt career transition. Central Issues or Themes: - Hours of work constrain ability to explore creative interests - Development of physical problems associated with conditions of work triggers decision to leave job - Current job is secure and pays well, but after several years, subject begins to feel bored by job, decreased intellectual challenge and commitment - In reassessing her interests and aspirations, subject feels drawn to challenge of new career which would better fulfill creative, artistic, emotional and physical needs and draw on values and knowledge which were developed in her previous profession Example (Conflict Situation 56-1): Conflict rating: 4 As a permanent, full-time teacher at a community college, I had a generous_salary_, job_security_ and some administrative responsibility as co-ordinator of the English Department, in addition to teaching English composition and literature. After three years, I feK_b£re_d by bureaucratic details and their accompanying pressure and by decreased £m£ti_onal and inteH^ctual_c_hane_nge_an_d_commitment. I was 35 years old and f_elt_th_e_ne_ed to_(l_)_ta_k£ £.isks and CO try to "make real" the values and fe£ling_s of literature that_w£r£ im£ortant to_rne. I've always been interested in theatre; I was a dancer for some years, and I wanted_t£ ta]ce_a_chance at_a£ting_ (or being involved in performance of some kind). I felt a great 149 lack of physical exercise in my teaching job and w_ante_d_som£th_ing that my_oly£d_m_y_ b_ody_as well_as_ my mind. I alsojfelt a rieed_for c£eatiy£ emotional £X£re_ssion (that I was not able to apply to my teaching). 3. Desire to better integrate diverse aspects of self/roles (interests, work, political commitment, parenting) prompts career transition. Central Issues or Themes: - Divergent demands of multiple roles continuously conflict with each other - Discomfort with role strains prompts career transition Example (Conflict Situation 317-3): Conflict rating: 5 My interests, my work, my political commitment, my parenting were all at one time very divergent and at odds with each other. I didn't like this. B. Unhappy, discontent in student role, and considering potential change in career direction. 1. Unhappy in student role, but uncertain what new direction to take. Central Issues or Themes: - Subject is continually questioning her motives for being at college, given her unhappiness in role, general feelings of depression - Unclear about what career role she would be more comfortable in - Spends considerable time contemplating career options which would be preferable - Concerned that her discomfort is ultimately with self, not student role Example (Conflict Situation 160-1): Conflict rating: 7 I am presently going to college in Massachusetts. J_ am_constantly_ 150 questioning _hy_ I am_here, and feeling unhappy in the role of student. However, it is difficult for me t^ o_kno_w w_hat_rol£ I _wou_ld |_ee_l_mor£ £omfortable in, that is to say, I am always_ttanking of_th_ings I w_ould rather_do (carpentry, commercial fishing, outdoor leadership, home steading), but I am afraid that it is ultimately myself I am uncomfortable with, and not studenthood. 2. More interested in learning about new subject of interest than in going to class. Central Issues or Themes: - Subject finds regular attendance difficult in present course of studies (upgrading), combining part-time studies with job - Alternate program at college is of greater interest to her than attending class Example (Conflict Situation 14-1): Conflict rating: 7 I found great difficulty in getting through my upgrading course at college. I was going on a part-time basis and also working; I found it difficult to attend regularly. At one point I tqok_an interest in the film_ed_iting_p^ogram which is offered at the college and found j£yself_more mterested_in learning_about_that tha_n_going to £lajss. Financial advantages of transition to working full-time weighed against freedom of current situation or having desired time to develop other aspects of self. 1. Working part-time allows time for developing creativity, but working full-time desirable or necessary for financial reasons. Central Issues or Themes: - Current part-time work situation is appealing, as it leaves time for creative pursuits and experimenting with lifestyle/career options - Subject begins to feel financial strains, as income from part-time 151 employment is insufficient to support desired standard of living - Would need more money to finance desired travel (with partner) - Resentment at prospect of giving up pleasures of current lifestyle to return to full-time work - Pressures of possible full-time job would weigh negatively against freedom of current situation (working part-time) Example (Conflict Situation 23-2): Conflict rating: 4 At the present time I vvork_only_ three_ days per week, which £leases rn_e_witJ2 reg_ard_t£ my developing £reativity. Now, however, the fman_cial_ £ut-ba£k_wh_i£h_g£es^ along with_that te_b£gmning_t£ be a_strain, as I would like to travel in the near future (which is part of a partner-relationship commitment) and feel I need more money. 2. Wanting to (re-) enter work force to attain financial independence, but working full-time would mean loss of time for other favoured activities. Central Issues or Themes: - Intensive involvement in sport is challenging and rewarding, but places considerable demands in terms of time (and lack of flexibility in schedule) and money - Concern about missing opportunity for personal/professional development through career pursuit - Desire for financial independence, but this would require change of lifestyle and loss of time for other favoured activities - Ambivalence about potential gains and losses of career involvement and changing lifestyle results in reduced interest in and commitment to studies Example (Conflict Situation 539-1): Conflict rating: 7 A few years ago I was engaged in the sp£rt of schooling and showing dressage horses. It was derna_ndj_n£ of_tnne (6 hours a day), £ers£nal flexibility (there wasn't any because of feeding schedules and regular 152 professional lessons, etc.) and finally m.on.ey_. I enjoyed the self-actualization and thrill of the whole £rocess Jbut felt_I_was missing opportunities for personal growth m_a_professk»nal area^ 1 _wanted_to be financially independent and £0£ldnML_be j_f_I_we_re_ to_c£nt.inue ihis_S£0£tL Furthermore, I felt a little selfish. My option would be to find a job full time and change my lifestyle. I had tried part-time work but the pay was low and job satisfaction and esteem limited. D. Conflicts associated with assessing job prospects/potential jobs and the process of looking for work. 1. Looking for temporary work and needing money; whether to take second-rate job immediately available or hold out for something better. Central Issues or Themes: - Subject needs money in summer, so looks for temporary work through personnel agencies - Job(s) immediately available are unappealing, but more attractive job would require her to wait - Holding out for better job would mean risk of not working Example (Conflict Situation 115-3): Conflict rating: 7 I was temping in the summer of 1981, trying to work with one particular agency who promised good money, had a good atmosphere, but didn't come up that quickly with jobs. An acquaintance suggested another agency, which turned out to give good money, but had a "hard-sell" attitude, came up quickly with jobs, but awful ones at that. The dilemma was cle_a_r:_ take_the_r£tten_ jo£s_a£d_g£t_the m£n£y_(w_hj_ch 1 need£d2 £r_wait until the ag£n£y_I_lik£d_ca_m£ up with them2 a_t_t£e_risk_ £f ji£t_w£rking^ 2. Few jobs available in field of training; whether to wait for related job or take unrelated job and not use training. 153 Central Issues or Themes: - Subject seeks job related to studies at university, but few are available - Unrelated job which is available is of less interest and would not draw on knowledge/skills acquired during training Example (Conflict Situation 567-3): Conflict rating: 6 I graduated from U.B.C. with a B.A. and began looking for a job related to Psychology. I found there were few iobs_in this f _ld and I £ould w^ajt_f£r_th_e_k±nd_ £f_J£b_I_wanted or_take something not related immediately. The unrelated job required no University training and I would not be using my degree at all. 3. Most jobs related to field of past training are not of interest to her; whether to seek related job or pursue further studies in area of interest. Central Issues or Themes: - After completion of training, subject discovers that jobs related to training are not of interest - Considering further studies in field which is of greater interest, but financial needs require finding immediate employment - After working for period of time at job which is unrelated to training and relieving self of financial obligations, subject must decide whether to go for further education in area of interest or to seek employment in field of previous training Example (Conflict Situation 777-1): Conflict rating: 7 After gradua;ting_wrth a £hy_s^cal_ed_u£a_tion_de_gree_ I discovered that I liked the theory of P.E. but I did not lij_eJ:heJ?^E j^obs, i.e. high school teacher, fitness director, etc. During my undergrad years I worked a year in a bank and discovered that 1 Hke_c£mmerce (but not banking!). When I graduated I thought of doing an M.B.A., but in the meantime I had to_get_a job right awa_y as I had purchased a condo and had payments to make. So I work£d_in th£ bank_for 154 a_year after graduation, quit, sold my condo and was in a dilemma -_o1d_I_re_ally_ want_to_ go_mt£ commerce or should I do_s£m£thing in £hy_sjc al_edu_a ti£n^ Likes job and recent advancements in vocation, but wanting to return "home," where no comparable job prospects exist now. Central Issues or Themes; - Current job situation is very satisfying, but location is problematic - Strongly drawn to return to "home" community, but finding comparable job opportunity there is extremely unlikely Example (Conflict Situation 443-2); Conflict rating: 7 My £xtrem£ delight w_i_th_my_ recent advancements in_my_ vo£a_ti£n y£t_my_ almost despair about the location of my life 2P_ord£r_t£ ke£p_the_J£bL I am a U.S. citizen, more patriotic than I would have ever thought and still £refer_to live_ba_ck_ m_th_e_U_LS_L even though I know the £con£m_y_, etc. would £r£V£n_t mejvom having_mv_ £r£sent job which is so very good in many ways. Finds self unmotivated in process of looking for work, as well as other aspects of life. Central Issues or Themes: - Subject trying to look for work, but lacks motivation and not sure why - Lack of motivation in other aspects of life as well (e.g. housekeeping, socializing) causes inner turmoil Example (Conflict Situation 10-3): Conflict rating: 6 Although I've been irvjng_t£ lp£k_f£r_w£rk,_Fy£ found ihat_Tm_just net very_m£tiyat£d for some reason. I don'^ t seem_t£ be_motiyat£d in any_ as£e£t_of jny_life - looking for work, cleaning or socializing. This problem has been causing a lot of turmoil for me. 155 E. Conflicts associated with "having to prove self" at early stages of career, self-doubts regarding ability to succeed in career role. 1. Avoided challenging program entrance requirements due to fear of failing. Central Issues or Themes: - Entering possible program of studies would require completion of entrance exams - Fear that she will fail exams prevents subject from attempting them - Subject makes excuses to others about reasons for not pursuing program - Feelings of disappointment and guilt at withdrawing from challenge and being dishonest with others Example (Conflict Situation 777-2): Conflict rating: 7 I_ £onsjdere_d_going_into an_M_LB_1A1 program and to_do so_would_have to_w_rite GMAT (entrance) exams. I avoided domg_ the £xams be£ause I was afraid_of fatting. To me, not writing the GMAT entrance exams for the M.B.A. program is practically the same as writing the tests and failing. I've always been afraid of failing (I finally realize it now) and therefore pushed myself to whatever limits I had to, in order to succeed. If I felt I was going to fail, I would drop out (which did not happen when I was younger, but began to occur more frequently as I got older). I see now that it was unhealthy not to fail and that not completing what I started out doing was actually a form of failure. All this M.B.A. business clearly brought to my attention what was starting to become a bad habit in my life (avoiding failing). The conflict that arose was that I was making up excuses and reasons why I hadn't gone in for the M.B.A. program. I was saying things like "I found an easier way to get into commerce." Not only was I not being honest with myself and other people about why I didn't go to school, 1 also always fejLt_a_sense_of disappointment and guttt every time I thought about the M.B.A. program and what I was doing (working in sales). 156 2. Feeling of having to prove self in career-related project at early stages of career, feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy. Central Issues or Themes: - Career-related project triggers anxiety, self-doubt, feelings of failure, regrets about missed opportunities - Subject compares self negativitely to others - Comments of person to whom she is accountable for project prompt panic reaction Example (Conflict Situation 755-4): Conflict rating: Not indicated I was asked to write an article for a magazine about my career development so far - a benchmark article - talk with editor (woman). She is a keen business woman and I vvonde_r_if Pll ever b_e_on top_ of_this £ro_ject I'm try^ ing_to do^ F_ee_lin£s_of_ doubt and mad£quacyA j£isse_d_o£p£r_tun_i_tie_s_L faUure (when I measure against classmates, peers, etc.). She says things that make me feel panicky. n. Conflicts Within the Employee Role Number of Incidents: 13 Definition/Process: Employee's wants or expectations of self and/or other(s) in wo
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Role conflicts and coping strategies of women seeking career counselling Ward, Valerie Grace 1984
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