Incongruence in the Roles played by Employed Women in Work-Family Interface - An approach to Role conflict


Dr. S.S. Rao
Aiswarya Ramasundaram
Dept. of Mgt. Studies
Sathyabama University


Managing the demands of both work and family is a continuing challenge for employed women. The article examines the various roles played by employed women and its effect on work -family interface. Work- life balance emerged as major issue interfering in the career progression of women. It explores the main barriers to women's career development. These family and work place   co-ordination is what which we generally call it as work- family interface.

 The article identifies variables that interferes work- life balance, and suggests various approach to conflict management. Women assuming multiple roles results in work – family conflict because time and energy is shared, clubbed and extended across the two spheres of activity.

 A better understanding towards work -family conflict is attempted to deliver effective interventions for women to excel in the art of juggling.


In India it is taken for granted that economic activities for the family are exclusively the prerogative of males while domestic work, child bearing are the sole occupation of women. However this is not true of the women from weaker sections of Indian rural society. These female workers carry not only the load of domestic work, but also carry a significant part of the economic activity. This holds true for urban employed women also.

 Role conflict occurs when an individual occupies two or more roles simultaneously and the expectations associated with those different roles are incompatible  Women get married and bear children when they are in the threshold of their peak career growth. For women the domestic roles played primarily  are ,as  wife , mother, home- maker and added professional role are  as colleague, boss, and subordinate  both of which  is of great concern to employed women.

Domains of Conflict

Family and work are the most important domains in life for employed women. When conflicts between these two domains occur its consequences are reflected in both organization and domestic life. Employed women play a more dynamic and pivotal role meeting the challenge.  Women show great level of commitment in both phases of work and family. Family seems to have more impact on the work than vice versa. However women are unable to differentiate the two as watertight compartments.

Being primarily responsible for house hold work, women express higher degree of stress and lower levels of satisfaction, with their work life balance, than men do. This is particularly prevalent among highly educated women, with high levels of responsibility. Due to structural changes in family patterns, and the demands in modern working life, reconciliation of work and family has become the key issue in the society.  Henceforth the  focus on work- life balance for employed women.


Work -family conflict is defined as a form of inter- role conflict arising because of pressures emanating from one role is incompatible with those from another (Stoner, and Aurora 1990, Green house and et al 1950).

Verbrugg found that women who were married, employed and mothers had favorable health status compared to women with fewer roles. Lazarus and Folk Mann identified two major categories of coping strategies, which are problem focused and emotional centered. Women tend to use more emotion focused coping strategies

Increased level of conflicts from the two domains of family and work results in higher absenteeism, burn -out and reduced work performance for women as stated by Frone et al 1992.  Sinclair 1998, Bakker 2000 describes work- life balance as double life perspective between career and children. Two critical factors of work –family conflict Management strategies are family roles and work place roles.

(Kossek,Noe1999and Lobel 1991) emphasized the congruence of the two strategies

Fig 1

Variables in Work- Family -Interface

Labor  Force Participation

During this century women have been entering the labor force in large numbers. The percentage of married women in the labor force increased from almost 31% to 59%/.

 More married women are now in the labor force and the face of the South Indian family has changed. The number of traditional families with the husband as sole provider is decreasing. Very few women quit their job either during or after pregnancy. It has been estimated that around $100 billion dollars are lost annually because of trained and experienced women workers being absent from work on personal grounds.


The factors identified on the work front that influences role conflict are based on the   working hours, Industry requirements, Career growth, Work culture, Economic status and to a certain extent the attitude of the employee .

On the other hand the factors on the  family side pertains to the Marital status ,Number  and Age of the children , Dependents in the family , Style of living , and other commitments  both described in the order of importance on the different categories.

It as been identified in a survey that 83%of the women professional felt that working for only a few hours a day was the only option that serves both the domains.The current generation of the mothers is more tactful in balancing work and family. 73 % of the respondents identified the task of managing home and career is the primary reason for conflict.

Studies found  men had an average  of 34 hours  free time per week , women in full time house- hold had 32.6 , and employed women  had 14.5 hours per week , Many Indian women feel the concept of leisure time  is irrelevant in the existing circumstances.

Graph: The graph  identifies the various  parameters  of  conflict..


  • Acceptance of the conflicts in the two domains of work and family must become a part of life.
  • As one of the recommendation suggested y mothers are, policies such as flexi time, on site childcare crèche to a certain extent reduce the hard -ships of time and energy constraints.
  • Corporate need to slowly acknowledge flexi workers as viable employee base.
  • Portion of the family roles can be shared by hiring assistance for child care, and house -hold chores or with the help of relatives, friends and other elders in the family.
  • Women friendly policies can be framed and practiced in the organization.
  • Training programs to support work- life balance and stress management is suggested.
  • The culture and attitude of the corporate organization must consider the importance of the domestic life of its employees.
  • Time budgets show employed women adopt strategies to make  the day longer by getting up earlier and going to bed late  denying themselves rest in order to get their house hold tasks done.


The above article depicts the inter role conflict of employed women and how she masters the art of multi tasking with supportive data.

Dr. S.S. Rao
Aiswarya Ramasundaram
Dept. of Mgt. Studies
Sathyabama University

Source: E-mail October 10, 2007


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