Title page for ETD etd-05312011-105547

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Sonubi, Olubukunola Akinnusi
URN etd-05312011-105547
Document Title Managing problems and pressures facing single mothers in management and professional occupations in South African organisations
Degree PhD
Department Human Resource Management
Advisor Name Title
Prof L P Vermeulen Committee Chair
  • social support and stress
  • management support
  • personal growth
  • single working mothers
  • coping strategies
Date 2011-04-05
Availability unrestricted
The phenomenal feminisation of the South African labour force since the first democratic elections in 1994 is a result of the new democratic government’s efforts to transform South African society into a just, non-discriminatory and non-sexist society. This has, however, heightened several serious psychosocial problems facing working women, especially single working mothers, as they struggle to balance work and home responsibilities.

The study was undertaken, firstly, to develop a valid and reliable measuring instrument to survey the problems and pressures experienced by single mothers in management and professional occupations in South Africa and, secondly, to obtain data on single working mothers’ perceptions about the resources they believe would assist them to mitigate the negative effects of the work-home conflict.

To achieve these objectives, an exploratory, sequential, mixed method design was employed within a feminist perspective:

First, based on the information obtained from theoretical and empirical data about the problems and perceived support of working mothers, semistructured interviews were held with 17 women in management and professional occupations (ten women in dual-career families and seven single working mothers).

Then, on the basis of the interviews, a questionnaire was developed that was piloted among 30 experts and developed according to Lawshe’s principles. This questionnaire was called the Work-Family Pressure and Support Questionnaire (W-FPSQ). It was used in conjunction with the Overall Stress Index (OSI) and the Coping Behaviour Index (CBI) to determine the relationship and effect of supportive resources and coping behaviour on the work-family pressure and stress experienced by a purposive convenience sample of 104 single and 101 dual-career mothers (n=205).

For the purposes of this study, descriptive, comparative, associational and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data, using SPSS for Windows, Release 17. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA), with varimax rotation, was employed to explore the internal structure and validity of the W-FPSQ, the OSI, and the CBI. The reliability of the questionnaires was determined by calculating Cronbach’s alpha coefficient for each scale of the measures. The results indicated that the three questionnaires were sufficiently reliable and valid to capture the present sample of working mothers’ experience of work-family pressures and stress and to discover the resources they perceived as supporting them in coping with work and family demands.

The comparison of the 104 single working mothers with the 101 married working mothers showed that the single mothers’ mean rank scores were significantly lower than those of their married counterparts on the five support scales and on the coping behaviour scale, and significantly higher on the workfamily pressure and stress scales.

The computed logistic regression model indicated that management support, organisational flexibility, time for family interaction, work-family pressure and stress were a set of variables that distinguished reliably between the single and married mothers in the sample.

The study has clearly confirmed Gill and Davidson’s (2001:397) proposition that single working mothers are a ‘distinct group facing unique problems and pressures, and deserve to be recognized as such’. The problems they face as captured in this study demand a multi-pronged approach requiring organisations to provide management support, opportunities for personal growth and career development, work flexibility, time for family interaction and childcare facilities. These resources and a work-family-friendly environment will improve their work attitudes, job performance and well-being. Considering the proportion of single mothers in the society and the impact of their status on their children’s development, the issue of single working mothers and their needs deserves urgent attention.

© 2010 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Sonubi, OA 2010, Managing problems and pressures facing single mothers in management and professional occupations in South African organisations, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-05312011-105547/ >


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