The relationship between stressors, work-family conflict, and burnout among female teachers in Kenyan urban schools
This study investigated work-family conflict and related phenomena reported by female teachers in primary and secondary schools in Kenya. Specifically, it sought to first identify general work and family stressors and profession specific stressors, and how these stressors influenced teachers’ work-family conflict (WFC) and burnout. Second, it investigated whether support from home and work reduced these teachers’ perceived work-family conflict and burnout. Third, it investigated the impact of marital status, number and ages of children, length of teaching experience, and school location (city vs town) on perceived work-family conflict (WFC).
In this study, 375 female teachers from Nairobi and three towns completed a survey questionnaire with both closed- and open-ended questions. Data analysis was conducted through descriptive and inferential statistics, and content analyses of qualitative data. There were five primary findings. (1) Teachers clearly identified and described stressors that led to work-family conflict: inability to get reliable support from domestic workers, a sick child, high expectations of a wife at home, high workloads at school and home, low schedule flexibility, and number of days teachers spend at school beyond normal working hours, etc.
(2) Work-family conflict experienced was cyclical in nature. Stressors influenced WFC, which led to adverse outcomes. These outcomes later acted as secondary stressors. (3) The culture of the school and school’s resources influenced the level of support that teachers received. The level of WFC support that teachers received depended on the goodwill of supervisors and colleagues.
(4) Work-family conflict contributed to emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and professional efficacy. Time and emotional investment in students’ parents was related to emotional exhaustion; time and emotional investment in students’ behavior, the number of years teaching experience, and number of children were related to professional efficacy. Support from teachers’ spouses enabled teachers to cope with cynicism.
(5) While marital status did not influence WFC, school location did; teachers in Nairobi experienced more WFC than those in small towns. The study highlighted the importance of culture in studies of work-family conflict, as some of the stressors and WFC experiences identified seemed unique to the Kenyan context. Finally, theoretical implications, policy recommendations, and further research directions are presented.