The Stressors of Gender Inequality in Ambulance Services: The Impact of Neoliberal Economic Policies

By Kerry Mahony.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Two seemingly different ambulance services were included in this study. The first, an Australian service, is a statutory authority of the state and the other, a United Kingdom service is corporatised. Both services are implementing policies influenced by neoliberal economic ideology, however, this is markedly pronounced in the corporatised service. Qualitative methods were used to glean rich data from a good cross section of men and women in both services. In both societies women continue to be seen as primarily responsible for child care and housework and the relatively few mothers employed in each service found organising their lives around shift work to be stressful. This was particularly so for the UK women as their shifts are longer, more indeterminate and there is no paid overtime or penalty rates. The increased flexibility of shifts was found to be in the organisations' best interests before that of parents. The results clearly show that the situation for women in the corporatised service in terms of gender inequality as a stressor was far worse than for the Australian women. Economic rationalist policies in the UK service further discriminate against women to the extent that their male colleagues feel that their crew team is disadvantaged if mothers or potential mothers are included. The organisation was reluctant to employ women. Hence, women in the local geographic region which is presently depressed, are denied employment and training opportunities available to men.
The paper argues that a cultural and political perspective on occupational stress best explains the stressors women experience.

Keywords: Ambulance Services, Economic Rationalism, Stress, Gender Inequality, Organisational Culture

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.83-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 538.572KB).

Dr. Kerry Mahony

Lecturer, School of Management, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Kerry Mahony is a sociologist who specialises in the sociology of work and organisations as well as the sociology of health and illness. Her research centres around the organisational dimensions of stressors. She believes that the way that work is organised and valued can alleviate potential stressors or create them. Too much emphasis is put on the supposedly innate stress- generating personality of some workers which takes the focus away from the contemporary stressors of work overload and work intensification that we all have the potential to succumb to.

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