CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTION1.1 BackgroundGone are the days when domestic roles were fairly divided between the husband and the wife and where the man provides for the upkeep of the family while the woman makes the home (Matheswaran & Hemalatha, 2015). With increasing education and industrialization have come increased opportunities for women. Traditionally, women are expected to keep the home and take care of children. Although this appears to be a global practice, the situation is even more severe in the African context, where the domestic work is exclusively preserved for only women (Boakye, 2013).
This is because the African traditional system recognizes the man (husband) as the head of the family who must engage in income-generating activities to provide livelihood for his family. Over the last 50 years, the traditional family arrangement has changed, and this has altered the roles and expectation of women, and men as well (Annor, 2014; Sigroha, 2014). This is because there is an increment in the number of women gainfully employed in the formal sector.
Hitherto, the professional and corporate work was overwhelmingly dominated by men. This has come about as a result of years of sustained campaign for gender equality, women empowerment and girl-child education (Annor, 2014). Sigroha (2014) also attributes this phenomenon to urbanization and education which have caused a change in the set-up of the family. It is worth stating that, in the past, women’s involvement in income generating activities was mostly limited to the informal sector, which offered the needed ‚exibility and geographical proximity to enable them meet their obligations in the household (Ardayo-Schandorf, 2001).
The shift to corporate and professional work does not signify outright neglect of matrimonial and parenting responsibilities expected of women because women are expected to live up to societal expectation of keeping the home and also to meet demands and tasks at work. This situation is known as work life balance: the maintenance of a balance between responsibilities at work and at home (Reddy et al, 2010). This requires the people affected to divide their time and energy between these two vital and demanding spheres (Greenhaus & Powell, 2003). Work life balance is considered as women issue because the ultimate duty of running a home lies primarily in the hands of the woman in the family, notwithstanding her workload and demand at work (Sigroha, 2014). Therefore, many women struggle to cope with both work and family responsibilities at the same time. According to the International Labour Organization (2009), the rise of women in the formal employment sector has made the subject of work-life balance an important one for both policy makers and industry players. Kumari and Devi (2013) assert that work life balance is one of the most challenging issues women employees in the 21st century are grappling with. Due to globalization and competition, managers and business owners are constantly putting pressure on employees, both male and female, to meet their targets and KPIs (Boakye, 2013). The demands and expectations of employees have intensified, leading to a rise in the time spent on job (Sigroha, 2014). In most cases, work dominates the personal life. Therefore, it has become an arduous task for women to perform both professional and home roles well because spending more time pursuing one as opposed to the other can have serious negative repercussions (Nair, 2010). The pressure from both sides can cause stress and mental breakdown for many women (Reddy et al, 2010). The issue of work-life balance has become even more important because women are not only embracing professional work but are also rapidly rising through the ranks and breaking the glass ceiling to occupy top managerial positions in the corporate environment.In view of the foregone, this study was conducted to examine the experiences and challenges of working and professional women in Accra. This study particularly focused on the challenges working women in the corporate environment who are also parents face in delivering both responsibilities.Parenting and SocializationThe home is the child’s first point of socialization and therefore the responsibility of the parent. Parents must ensure that their children are catered for physically, emotionally and mentally as well as equipped with basic skills and materials to make that leap in life. However, this has become a great challenge to many especially corporate women parenting. Parenting has evolved with time. In the past, at least a parent (often the mother) or a member of the extended family (usually grandparents) would be available to nurture their children. The strenuous and time-consuming nature of working life has made it nearly impossible for parents to effectively raise their children, thus, children are left at the mercy of caregivers or house-helps, while some are left to handle their own issues at early stages. Either way, ineffective parenting affects the development of our children, thereby affecting society at large.The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in a document on Early Childhood Development (ECD) defines parenting as the forms or types of interactions among other social and emotional practices associated with the provision of nurturing a child or children. The Children’s Act, 1998 defines a parent as a person who has rights and responsibilities towards a child to protect him from harmful exposures, as well as provide all basic and necessary elements of life, be it food, good health and shelter that seek to promote the wellbeing and development of that child. Parenting is a continuous process and causes a great impact on child development. Just as socialization is important to the development of society, so does parenting play a critical role in the development of the individual, since parenting is functional in socialization. Generally, it is known that parents are the sources of love and affection to respond to the needs of children. Every child feels secure with at least a parent as they explore the different forms of environment (Dem‘rutku, 2007). Parenting StylesResearch indicates there are four (4) major parenting styles; Authoritarian parenting, Authoritative parenting, Permissive parenting and Uninvolved parenting (Kokpo, 2007). Authoritarian style of parenting, also known as disciplinarian, is characterized by parent controlling child’s behaviour to conform to an absolute standard. An authoritarian parent is keen on authority, work, and preservations, expresses firm and punitive enforcements. Children brought up by authoritarian parents have lower self-esteem. This form of parenting is identified to be the best option for the development of children. There is permissive parenting ” characterized by flexibility; that is not strict and expect little from children. Permissive parents allow their children to do anything that will make them happy (Baumrind cited in Dem‘rutku, 2007). Finally, there is the uninvolved parenting ” which is characterized by giving children the total freedom in their activities. It is possible for uninvolved parents to deliberately keep away from the activities of their children while others also show less interest in parenting. Children under uninvolved parents grow up without any form of discipline or control and thus, seek information from peers (Kokpo, 2007). In modern days, working parents are increasingly ignoring their roles not only in provision but in attending to them. That is the various activities undertaken during the provision of child care aimed at impacting the development of a child (UNICEF, 2018). Again, Rossouw (2018) defines parenting as the process of supporting children to develop into independent, autonomous, responsible, and self-attained adults. Support here includes emotional, physical and psychological. The role of parents is significant to the development of society as they offer identity, love, care, provision and protection to children. They are therefore the greatest source of support for children (Daly et al, 2015). In Ghana, it is arguably believed that the home is the first point of education for every individual. Significantly, there is also no doubt that motherly care plays critical role in parenting and the upbringing of children especially in domestic activities. Children when born naturally form a bond with their mothers from whose womb they are kept till the ninth month, hence the special love and affection demonstrated by mothers to children. It is common in the Ghanaian society to see most children under the care of women (mostly their mothers) whether separated or father has travelled. In this case a child learns many of life’s basic attributes from his mother; how to talk, language and how to relate to others in society. The activities of mothers have a great impact on children due to the relationship generated before and after birth. Every moment a mother spends with a child has some effect on the child’s development. This influence is stronger during the child’s early stages of life hence impacting its development. Mothers become their children’s first point of contact when delivered. The absence of a mother in the development of children brings about inferiority complex which leads to peer influence from friends. Children who hardly have their mothers around tend to seek refuge in their caregivers and friends within their age group. Some of these friends who may already be exposed to corrupt behaviors, consciously or unconsciously, influence these children to imbibe and accept their ways in order to be part of their sects or cliques. It is in this light that cultures like homosexuality, lesbianism, and transgender amongst others which are generally frowned upon by society are stuck deep with children. 1.2 Statement of the ProblemResearch has shown that early childhood development is a critical stage in human development because this stage is characterized by social behaviour formation, capacity thinking and personality development. The involvement of parent involvement in child nurturing is found to improve the performance of children both socially and academically (Nermeen et al, 2010). Poor child nurturing is a problem most women parenting unconsciously overlook due to their busy working schedules. UNICEF indicates that parenting in the 21st century is being influenced by many factors mostly macro-economic system which consist of the economy, political structure, traditions and laws of the state making parenting a difficult job and therefore causing some challenges to the practice (UNICEF, 2018).In an economy like Ghana where most women have to double their roles as corporate workers and home keepers, there are a number of challenges which are mostly overlooked. There are many women who suffer sleepless nights due to the ill health of their children among others. Most of such occurrences are perceived as excuses and sometimes goes against the performance of women at the work place. Some employers have sought to not employing women parenting younger children, while others resent to promoting them to managerial positions, leaving them devastated and depressed. Despite community and government investment in the development of children, little or nothing is done to support the parent helping and guiding the development of these children. Sigroha (2014) opines quality work-life balance has become an area of concern for everyone because both home demands and work expectations are equally important. As more and more women are joining the work force, it has become imperative to undertake empirical research to find solutions to the problems that prevent women from having an effective work-life balance. However, Annor (2012) posits that despite the past research work”family con‚ict has been conducted mainly in Western countries, most notably the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK) and Canada. To this end, this study is being done to address the gap between research and the phenomenon of work-life balance, with a view to broadening the scope of the subject and aiding in finding solutions to the challenges.1.3 Research Objectives Broadly, this study sought to investigate the work-life balance of corporate women who have extra-marital and/or parenting responsibilities. The following were specific objectives of the study:a) To examine the challenges of corporate women in their quest for an effective work-life balance.b) To ascertain the factors that influence the work-life balance of corporate women.c) To find out if parenting and domestic responsibilities affect corporate women’s performance and productivity at work. d) To investigate mechanisms and strategies that government and private sector employers can institute to support corporate women to perform both domestic and work demands effectively.1.4 Research Questionsa) What challenges do corporate women face in their quest for an effective work-life balance?b) What are the factors that influence the work-life balance of corporate women?c) How does parenting and domestic responsibilities affect corporate women’s performance and productivity at work?d) What policies and mechanisms can government and private sector employers institute to support corporate women to perform both domestic and work demands effectively?1.5 Significance of the StudyIt is believed that corporate women parenting in the 21st century face a number of challenges which if they are supported will enable them become more productive at the work place. This study seeks to explore some challenges corporate women face and the support they need to overcome these challenges. This study makes important contributions to strategies or mechanisms that seek to support corporate women parenting. It provides essential information on the need for parental involvement in child development. It further articulates in detail the impact of effective parenting on national development. It also provides suggested measures that can help address the issue. It is also expected to provide information for policymakers who are assessing programs that support child development practices in Ghana. In effect, the findings of this study will inure to the benefit of several stakeholders including corporate women, Ghanaian institutions and even the state in terms of accurate policy formulation on the subject matter of work-life balance. For instance, the findings of this study will bring to the fore the challenges confronting corporate working women in terms of work-life balance and more importantly, the recommendations may help corporate mothers find effective strategies of having fulfilling lives both at home and at the work place. From an academic perspective, this study will tremendously contribute to the literature of work-life balance of corporate women considering the paucity of empirical data in this area of study. Again, this study can serve as a useful source of reference material for academicians, researchers, students and other similar bodies and agencies who intend pursuing similar academic pursuits. 1.6 Scope of the Study and LimitationsThe study focused its attention on the 21st century career women in the formal sector. This included those in the corporate environment such as the financial institutions, telecommunication, educational institutions, and communication institutions among others. Therefore, the research was conducted across different sectors of the formal economy to establish how widespread the issue of work-life balance among women is. With a structured interview, the researcher distributed questionnaires to one hundred (100) participants from different institutions and companies. The respondents of the study were corporate women, married or single, who have children from the ages of 0 to 17years. In addition, since the researcher finds herself in the same sector to be interviewed with the assessment of the pre-test and post-test also to be conducted by her, it is unavoidable that a certain degree of subjectivity could be found in this study. 1.7 Organization of the StudyThe study was structured based on the format approved by the institute. Therefore, the content of the entire study was captured in five chapters. Each chapter of the study addressed a distinct sub-section of the research. The chapter one (1), which was basically the introductory chapter of the study, presents an overview of the topic and the research questions and objectives. Chapter two (2) of the study, titled literature review, focused on a review of related studies on the subject of work-life balance, the conceptual and theoretical foundations of the variables. Details regarding collection of data were presented in chapter three (3), while chapter four (4) contained primary findings of the research. The last chapter, chapter five (5) was based on conclusion, study implications, limitations of study and recommendations.