In this study, I intend to investigate if life coaching can help women find the solutions that they need, as it is not only not only = going to enhance their well being, but is going to benefit the Indian society in general.
The study was conducted to address the following questions:
- Is working Indian woman really stressed?
- What are the stressors, especially with regard to Indian situation?
- Can life coaching help?
- What is the awareness about the coaching?
- Are women open and willing to invest in receiving coaching?
The extensive study conducted by Nielsen in 2011 reveals that Indian women are the most stressed in the world. An overwhelming 87% of Indian women said that they felt stressed most of the time, and 82% had no time to relax (1). The survey spanned 6,500 women from 21 developed and developing countries like Sweden, the US, the UK, France, the BRICS economies. These alarming statistics need to be carefully looked at. What is causing the stress and what can be done to help? The increasing career aspirations of women in India has resulted in a new prototype – A dual earning couple. A huge proportion of such women in the workforce comprises of wives and mothers whose employment status demands a drastic change in their pattern, activities, commitments and responsibilities, requiring a reassessment of the family environment. Indian woman is at crossroads, recreating her place in the social hierarchy and she needs a lot of loving support. Life Coaching has a great value for all such women. It can help them to step back, evaluate their lives, have a vision for themselves, have tools /resources and create structures to support themselves in an environment where there are a myriad of cultural and societal factors not very conducive for them to thrive.
Author conducted an online survey (kwiksurveys.com) in which 35 Indian working women over the age of 25 participated . The survey consisted of questions related to everyday stressors and options available to alleviate the stress, including coaching.
The work participation rate for women has been steadily increasing over the last couple of decades. The proportion of women in the workforce in 1981 was 19.67% and it rose to 22.73% in 1991, further rising to 25.68% in 2001 (2).
At a very broad level, this study as well as many others indicate that women face extremely high levels of stress in India. This, obviously is not beneficial to themselves, their employers or to their families. Women are emotional and sensitive beings, more so when it comes to their children. As the study indicates, most women felt guilty about leaving not spending enough time with their children.
Although Indian workplaces have great opportunities for women to excel, but unfortunately, the traditional outlook that demands women to be submissive at home. The assertiveness and confidence required at work is usually has to be subdued in the home environment. Sometimes, they can carry that attitude of submissiveness to work, not being able to effectively voice their very legitimate demands and needs. This was expressed as was one of the challenges that women face at work.
In the study by Henry and Parthasarthy (3), it was noted that leadership and decision making issues in the joint family largely arose due to the inability to communicate with the authority figures within the family, thus leading to frustration and passive aggression.
Relationship issues with parents/in laws was found to be the third leading cause of stress in this study.
Despite the technological prowess of India’s engineers and outsourcing firms, the country’s basic infrastructure isn’t sophisticated enough to support telecommuting and work-from-home arrangements on a widespread basis .
Also, psychosocial studies have shown that dual-earning couples in India have a poorer quality of marital life compared to single-earning couples, (4–6 ) in their study found that work-family conflict was expressed in 63% of Thematic Appreciation Test (TAT) stories written by women.
Sources of stress in the lives of working women emerged from a lack of time to attend to multiple roles, presence of young children in the family, and additional responsibility at work in the form of promotions.(7, 9) The most common outcome of such chronic stress for the working woman was found to be poor mental and physical health resulting in depression, anxiety, asthma and colitis. (9–11) This enormous stress clearly arise from the issues that women face relentlessly on every day basis. The constant mental, physical multi tasking as well as emotional juggling takes its toll which can affect the overall quality of life. It is evident that Indian women need intervention.
As the study indicates, most women agree that they can use help to enhance their quality of life but seem to be unaware of the choices that they have in order to achieve that. In the face of a challenge, women choose to talk to a well wisher to feel better, and do not consider to seek professional help. Although this does not give them any solutions, it is comforting. It is striking that most women are not aware about life coaching. There is a definite need of spreading more awareness about coaching among Indian women professionals.