Working in the Margins: Women's Experiences of Stress and Occupational Health Problems in Part-Time and Casual Retail Jobs
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Women workers dominate the labor market of part-time and casual jobs in Canada and other industrialized countries, particularly in the retail trade and consumer services sector. However, research into the occupational health consequences of part-time and casual jobs for this large group of women workers is still in its early stages. Emerging evidence suggests that part-time and casual jobs contribute to stress and result in health problems for women. To learn about the impact of part-time and casual jobs on women's experiences of stress and their resulting physical and emotional health, we conducted interviews and focus groups with occupational health and safety union representatives and female workers in retail and consumer services. Results show that stress is a major occupational health problem for these women, due to the working conditions in part-time and casual jobs, the psychosocial work environment, and the gendered work environment in the retail trade and consumer services. Stress from part-time and casual jobs results in repetitive strain injuries, migraine headaches, and feelings of low self-esteem, low motivation, and job dissatisfaction for women. The disconcerting implication of our research is that part-time and casual employment comes at a cost for some women.
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