Beyond balance : examining work-family interface, role negotiation, and coping strategies for female caregivers in STEM
Reilly, Erin Dawna
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Though the retention of female caregivers in STEM fields has become increasingly discussed, there is a lack of research investigating the major factors impacting their successful negotiation of work and family responsibilities and roles. This body of research examined the impact of societal roles, external support structures, and coping resources on work-family satisfaction and psychological well-being. In particular, this study investigated the following: (1) the relationships among work support, family support, coping, and satisfaction; (2) the relationship between family- and occupational-support, work-family conflict, and satisfaction; (3) coping resources as a mediator of the relationship between work-family conflict and work and family satisfaction, and; (4) the impact of internalizations of competing societal myths (i.e., the ideal worker myth and motherhood myth) as moderating the impact of work-family conflict on interpersonal guilt. Participants included 204 women in STEM fields who also reported caregiving responsibilities. The majority of the recruited sample identified as mothers, and reported approximately equal amounts of time spent on occupational responsibilities and caretaking work. Results indicate that women who reported higher levels of family support and occupational support tended to have higher levels work and family satisfaction, as well as greater perceived internal coping resources. In addition, women with greater perceived abilities to identify, predict, and plan for demands and possible stressors tended to have greater levels of family and work satisfaction. In terms of modeling work-family interface, women who reported higher levels of familial and career-climate support tended to also report greater perceived coping resources and abilities. However, the hypothesis that work-to-family and family-to-work conflict would significantly predict lower work satisfaction and family satisfaction was not supported when modeled alongside other variables (external support and coping). On the other hand, the hypothesis that the relationship between family-to-work conflict and work satisfaction was mediated by perceived coping resources was supported. Finally, results suggest that greater internalization of the motherhood myth, the ideal worker myth, and the presence of work-to-family conflict are associated with higher levels of guilt for female caregivers in STEM fields. Limitations, future research areas, and practical implications of these findings are discussed.