Females and Mature Adults in the Workforce
Females and Mature Adults
What are the implications of the increase of female and maturing, or aging workers in the workforce with regards to physical and psychological injury? We will address these questions, taking a close look at current literature reflecting on physical and psychological injury in the workforce, focusing on age and gender. First, the researcher will present an interpretation of gender in the workplace, and how the physical and psychological injury issue is affecting the current workplace. Second, the researcher will present an analysis of how aging workers are affecting the workforce with physical and psychological issues.
Females in the Workforce: An Analysis of Gender and its Implications on Physical and Psychological Injury
The increasing numbers of women in the workforce has resulted in several benefits and consequences for various business environments. First, two things must be noted about the increase of women in the workforce. With the current economic downturn, one thing has become apparent: an increase in the number of female workers in the workforce. Why is this the case? Women tend to work in particular fields that are still in need, even with the economic downturn, while men do not. For instance, we can find millions of women employed as nurses in the health care industry, and the need for nurses is still high, even with the economic downturn. Other careers traditionally occupied by women, like teachers, are still in demand. However, generally these types of careers also pay less than the careers sought out by men. Still, there is an increasing trend, due to the economic downturn, seeing that the woman is actually the one providing for the family. However, the end result is that there are increasing monetary stresses on the family, with many families bordering on poverty as a result. This causes increasing psychological stress on the working woman, as she is providing for her family and earning an income usually far below what her husband was formally earning. With her as the sole provider, this can certainly result in psychological issues in the workplace, as she may be distracted or stressed. However, it can also have the opposite effect of forcing her to perform better on the job, hoping for a promotion or an increase in pay. Basically, the psychological pull works both ways.
Anderson (2009) states that the rise of females in the workplace has created tension in the family and in the workplace. According to Anderson:: “Rising from 19 to 59%,” the number mothers who worked were seen by Anderson as “an indication of the instability of the family unit.” (2009, p. 531) Another interested fact noted by this author is the number of children “still living with their biological parents by age 17 had fallen from 73% in 1960 to only 56% in 1989.” (Anderson, 2009, p. 531) Anderson feels that the American family is falling apart based on women’s increased presence in the workplace, stating: “the crumbling of the nuclear family is causing decreased stability in childrearing and companionship among American adults” (2009, p. 533). Furthermore, he adds that the nuclear “the most basic and fundamental unit of the family” — man, wife, child (539) seems to be breaking up more consistently. He further asserts: “The breakup of this basic unit then would dismantle the building blocks of natural family function” (Anderson, 2009, p. 540).
The second thing that must be noted is the fact that many women that are working are actually single mothers, and this also ties into the previous discussion regarding the breakup of the nuclear family. This once again means that many women in the workforce are struggling with concepts of poverty, because single mothers have the tendency to earn less than their married counterparts. Often times this has to do with the fact they have received less education. However, the same types of psychological stress placed on the single earning married women is very similar to that of the stress placed on the single mother. However, the single mother has no hope of increasing her income based on having a man in her family; if a married woman is dealing with an unemployed husband, there is still hope there will be better finances once the husband finds employment. This is, of course, not true with the single mother, creating a higher amount of psychological stress. However, once again, this psychological stress can have both negative and positive ramifications, depending on the woman’s personality (Cutler, 2008). This lack of money can result in the woman working harder and wanting a promotion, therefore making her an exceptional employee. On the other hand, it can also cause an increased amount of stress on the single mother, who probably also has to worry about daycare (something a married woman with a stay at home husband would not worry about), and other stressful concepts, which can also distract her performance at work.
The stresses of a single mother are important to consider when examining these psychological stresses. According to Baldridge (2008), “poor children face increased risk of death, infectious and chronic illness, and injury from accidents and violence” (176). These unique family units of mother and child (ren) also tend to live in conditions which are filled with violence, deteriorating housing, and disrupted living conditions — which increases the likelihood of depression, low self-confidence, and conflict with peers and authority figures. (Baldridge, 2008). Therefore, this means that the single mother will more than likely have an increased psychological stress level in comparison with her married counterpart, even if they are both living on a single income.
As already noted, the stresses of the psychological implications that women face in the workforce will result in one of two conclusions. Either the woman will be more motivated to make money as a result of the economic issue, or she will be so stressed out and distracted by her other responsibilities that she will not be able to focus. The workplace, however, can maximize the focus of the woman and push her performance by providing tempting rewards, such as a raise or more paid vacation. The workplace itself is generally responsible for maximizing on the psychological mindset of women in the workforce, and there is no reason why the workplace cannot do this successfully by making its environment a focus of motivation (Brooks, 2009). The workplace can make itself, for women, the one area of happiness in their lives — and by providing some type of rewards system, there is no reason why this cannot be done (Cutler, 2008). If the workplace, however, does not do this, it is very likely to create more psychological problems for the woman, and this can create problems not only for the woman, but also for the business. For instance, if somebody has psychological problems it can be very difficult to fire them without facing a lawsuit, even if that individual is demonstrating a lack of performance. Therefore, it is better for the workplace to try and avoid this issue in general using the concepts already discussed.
The increase of women in the workforce also has ramifications in regards to physical injuries. Women are not generally considered as physically strong as men. With single mothers working jobs that often have physical requirements, including lifting, cleaning, and other efforts, women can hurt themselves more easily if they are not careful. Furthermore, with women in the workforce there is also the concept of pregnancy that one needs to consider, an issue that needs to be carefully addressed if the woman is performing physical work. Businesses therefore need to make sure they have worker’s compensation as well as some sort of general agreement with the woman performing various physical activities in order to provide protection for both the employer and employee in case any job injuries do occur. The fact is, the increase of woman in the workforce is demonstrating an overall increase in physical injury, which is something that probably should have been suspected.
Maturity in the Workforce: An Analysis of Age and its Implications on Physical and Psychological Injury
With the increase in technological innovation and medical innovations, people are generally working longer and living longer. This means that there has been an overall increase in the presence of mature workers in the workforce. Furthermore, this trend is only going to continue to increase. As people stay physically healthy longer, they see no reason not to continue working, and therefore we see an aging generation of baby boomers still largely present in today’s workforce (Budrys, 2008).
With this increase in the mature workforce, it is important to discuss the psychological and physical ramifications for the workplace. First, psychologically, we generally find that the mature worker is in a great place to contribute to the business and the workplace overall. The older worker tends to be more mature, more aware, and more focused than the younger worker. Furthermore, the older worker is generally also more economically secure, removing the types of psychological stress discussed above. There is a feeling of psychological maturity that the older worker contributes to the workforce, allowing him or her to actually be a respected leader in the workplace.
Experience obviously plays a key role in the psychological success of the aging worker (Budrys, 2008). The individual that is older is typically more experienced in his or her field, and therefore generally able to perform better and faster than their younger counterparts. This may sound like a surprising statistic since we generally assume that youth means an individual may be able to perform better and faster, but this is usually a physical and not a psychological trend. Psychologically, the performance strength tends to lie with the individual that is more experiences. Therefore, businesses deciding to retain aging workers will be able to utilize them to increase performance and raise standards within the workplace. Furthermore, these individuals could be used to guide and mentor other, younger workers or other workers that may need increased focus. The aging worker not only makes a good leader, as discussed above; her or she also makes an excellent manager. Many businesses, in fact, prefer to hire older workers to perform management functions, because they are so highly experiences. They are usually able to perform well and make excellent decisions with little prodding, and therefore can increase the success of the company in a leadership role.
Therefore, psychologically, these aging workers tend to be a bonus to the organization. Physically, however, there can be issues. Much like the presence of women in the workforce, the increase in aging individuals in the workforce can also create physical implications for the workplace. Any workplace hiring or retaining maturing people, like any workplace hiring many females, needs to retain worker’s compensation in case of injury. Also, the workplace needs to have a clear agreement with employees in order to protect itself and also to protect its employees. Just as an increase in women in the workforce has resulted in increasing physical injury, the increase of aging individuals in the workforce has also resulted in increased physical injuries (Equal Employment, 2008).
The focus of an older worker’s physical performance is something that has to be monitored carefully. People can be older and still in wonderful physical shape. Basically, the physical performance of an older worker is something that will need to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. However, if the physical aspects of the job are too overwhelming, then the company needs to reconsider its approach to physical labor. The company may need to measure whether or not the skill or the worker will hold out when compared with the necessary physical skills. Again, this will have to be a careful an delicate assessment, and obviously the company may need to weigh whether or not the individual’s management skills may be a better use than the individuals’ physical skills.
Taking a look at the facts and concepts discussed above, it is important for businesses to take into account the overall physical and psychological issues that come with an increased workforce full of women and mature individuals. Companies obviously cannot discriminate based on sex and age, and they should not anyway since the workforce is increasingly made up of more women and older individuals, they would simply be ignoring the largest available groups of individuals that can actually work and perform the tasks. The fact is, companies need to be more sensitive and aware of the psychological and physical issues that may occur in the workforce as more and more women, and more and more old individuals become a part of the workplace environment. If companies are able to successfully monitor the positives and negatives presented by an aging and increasingly female workforce, than the company can still be successful. The key is for the company to obviously be as sensitive and aware as possible to the psychological and physical issues faced by females as well as those faced by aging Americans. Both of these sectors of society can provide an excellent source of employment as long as businesses pay attention to their needs and motivators.
Andersen, M. (2009). Restructuring for whom? Race, class, gender, and the ideology of invisibility.” Sociological Forum. Vol. 16, No. 2.. p. 181-201.
Baldridge, J.(2008). Sociology: A critical approach to power, conflict, and change. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Brooks, C. (2009) The aging female workforce. American Sociological Review. 67 (2), (2002). pp.191 — 211.
Budrys, G. (2008). Unequal Health. New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield.
Cutler, D. (2008).The cost and financing women and age in the workplace. The American Economic Review.Vol. 85, No. 2. p. 32-37.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2008). The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.).New York: Columbia University Press.