Gender differences in workaholism and work-related variables
Iwona Dudek 1  
,   Malwina Szpitalak 1  
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Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Wydział Filozoficzny, Instytut Psychologii
Publication date: 2019-12-30
Studia Humanistyczne AGH 2019;18(4):59–76
The term ‘workaholism’ was first coined by Wayne Oates (1971), and since then it has been conceptualized in a variety of ways. Most researchers agree, however, that a defining feature of workaholism is that it involves an inner compulsion to work, in which people constantly think about work (Beiler-May, Williamson, Clark, Carter 2017). Conclusions on workaholism are often contradictory, which may reflect a shortage of research results (Burke 1999). This also applies to research on gender differences regarding workaholism and work-related variables. The results of several studies (e.g. Burgess, Burke, Oberklaid 2006; Burke 1999; Doerfler, Kammer 1986; Spence, Robbins 1992) have been equivocal (some of them indicate that there is no relationship between gender and workaholism, while others suggest that workaholism is related to gender). The purpose of this paper is to examine gender differences in five workaholism factors and the work-related variables of perfectionism and self-handicapping. Three hundred and fourteen participants (Mean age = 29.29; SD = 12.02) took part in the study. Questionnaires were administered in a paper version. Workaholism was measured using the 25-item Work Addiction Risk Test (Robinson 1998) in Polish adaptation (Wojdyło 2005), which measures different facets of workaholism (Obsession/Compulsion, Emotional Arousal/Perfectionism; Overdoing, Outcome Orientation and Self-Worth). To test perfectionism The Polish Adaptive and Maladaptive Perfectionism Questionnaire (Szczucka 2010) was used. Self-handicapping strategies were measured using the Anticipative Strategy of Self-Esteem Protection Scale (Doliński, Szmajke 1994). Females and males were found to differ on workaholism. Women were significantly higher on average in workaholism than men (a significant difference appeared in two of the five components: Overdoing and Emotional Arousal/Perfectionism). Females also reported higher levels of maladaptive perfectionism, which is considered as a workaholic job behavior. Gender differences have also been observed in self-handicapping strategies. Women were characterized by a stronger tendency towards self-justification then men. Males, on the other hand, declared stronger emotional resilience than women. These patterns of results are consistent with the results obtained in a previous study regarding gender differences in using self-handicapping strategies (Doliński, Szmajke 1994). The obtained results can be interpreted through the prism of the roles and tasks currently given to women. On the one hand, in light of social norms, a woman should take care of the household and family, while a man is responsible for earning money to support the family (Blair-Loy 2003). On the other hand, participation of women in the workforce is increasing (Peeters, Montgomery, Bakker, Schaufeli 2005), so they may find it difficult to reconcile work and fulfilling the demands of the roles of spouses, mothers or caregivers. Our study show that women may feel more overloaded with work and they have a higher level of emotional factors than men regarding workaholism. However, one may wonder whether women's workaholism is still underestimated. Women may find it more difficult to admit that they feel an inner compulsion to work due to gender-differentiated societal norms and expectations (Beiler-May et al. 2017: 109).
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