Working Lives Survey (WWLS) was commissioned by the Equal Opportunities
Commission for Northern Ireland in 1990. The survey was designed to:
(1) identify factors which determine whether or not women participate
in paid work and how the unpaid work undertaken by women in the home
influences their involvement in the labour market; (2) record the
type of paid work women have done and do, as well as their attitudes
and experiences of employment.
women were interviewed who lived in private households and were aged
between 18 and 65. The sample was drawn from the 1990 Register of
Electors using a 2 stage proportionate random sample. The interview
took a semi-structured approach, including some prompt items.
Stereotype of the Woman Worker: Myths and Realities
of women who had applied for work within the previous 5 years felt
that they had been discriminated against because they were female,
the main reason being that they may leave to start a family.
research has shown men and women identifying similar factors as be
being important in work, and similar job satisfaction levels. However,
this may relate to differences in life goals between men and women.
Attitudes and Orientations Towards Their Work
vast majority (81%) of working women said that they worked because
they needed the money, followed by liking the stimulation of going
out to work (64%). 80% said that working makes them feel that they
were doing something useful.
were some differences between the attitudes of women working full-time
and those working part-time: e.g. 83% of those working full-time would
look for a new job immediately if they lost their job, compared to
60% of those working part-time. Full-time workers were more likely
to say that they were often tired because of their work, and that
they did not have enough time to see friends and family, especially
if they had children.
asked what factors were important when applying for jobs, personal
issues (eg work I like doing) were more important, especially for
women under 30.
of women in paid employment or looking for work expected that they
would work until they reached retirement age.
for job satisfaction were similar for both full- and part-time workers.
women were less satisfied with pay than married women, and Protestants
were less satisfied than Catholics.
terms of satisfaction with the job itself, occupational status was
a significant factor - professional women were more satisfied than
other groups. Younger women were less content than older women.
status affected satisfaction with promotion prospects.
majority of women were satisfied with their working lives in relation
to work they liked doing, journey to work etc.
third of women had been promoted at work, including 46% of those currently
working full-time, and 33% of those in part-time work. Less than 10%
had ever refused promotion, often because they did not want more responsibility,
rather than reasons related to their personal lives. Two thirds of
women in jobs with prospects of promotion would welcome it. Most of
those who would not welcome promotion did not want more responsibility
or were happy in their current job.
of women not working stated that they were not in paid employment
due to childcare considerations. 13% were looking for work.
results show that there is no "typical woman" as experiences and orientations
differ between individuals.
to Women at Work
right of a woman to choose whether to go to work is important, especially
when she has no young children: 90% of women said the woman should
make the decision about whether to work when there are no children;
41% believe a married woman with children under school age should
stay at home. Older women have more traditional attitudes.
wishes of a partner/husband were not deemed as very important. Respondents
also thought that their partners would be less likely to leave the
decision to the woman.
to the Attitudes to Women scale relating to work issues show that
age is the most significant factor, together with domestic circumstances
and economic activity, for example, single women under 40 with no
children and working full-time have the most liberal attitudes.
in Northern Ireland hold similar attitudes to work to women in Great
Britain, and women's attitudes are becoming more liberal.
general, women attach importance to the rewards gained from their
work, and show high levels of commitment. However, the understanding
of work motivation, orientation and job satisfaction by researchers
towards women's work were influenced by age and domestic situation
- older women were less tolerant of mothers going out to work. However,
the majority of the women questioned thought it was up to the woman
to decide if and when she should work.