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1.1 Background to the study

Marital roles and career of women go along way in defining how gender is perceived in today’s view on roles of the female folks. It is expected that a woman’s role and the part she plays in society before anything, is to her husband and children, she herself comes last. Such roles include, satisfying her husband sexually, childbearing, childrearing, performing domestic chores, in some cases providing for the family need if she is a widow, divorced or if the husband is jobless.

Making a head-way in any chosen profession requires an appropriate outlook and a Set of skills, the cases for Nigerian academics do not differ; the problem is that achieving the required quality would be difficult for these professionals in the current socio-political climate in the country. Women in these academics are vital to the success of all economies and even more so to a developing economy like Nigeria. But how would these professionals manage demanding careers in the face of other multiple roles?

A role can be defined as the behaviour associated with a social position, or a typical behaviour. Some theorists have put forward the idea that roles are essentially expectations about how an individual ought to behave in a given situation, while others consider it as how individuals actually behave in a given social position. Others have suggested that a role is a characteristic behaviour or expected behaviour, a part to be played, or a script for social conduct.

Role theory is a perspective in sociology and in social psychology that considers most of everyday activity to be the acting out of socially defined categories (e.g., mother, manager, and teacher). Each social role is a set of rights, duties, expectations, norms and behaviour a person has to face and to fulfil. The model is based on the observation that people behave in a predictable way, and that an individual’s behaviour is context specific, based on social position and other factors.

Human multitasking is the best performance by an individual of appearing to handle more than one task at the same time. The term is derived from computer multitasking. Women outpace men in multitasking - but they are paying an emotional cost for doing so, according to a study (Gladstones, Regan & Lee 1989, Pashler 1994). Hallowell describes multitasking as a “mythical activity in which people believe they can perform two or more tasks simultaneously as effectively as one”.

According to Sandra, & Chang, Jennifer (2009), "Gender differences in multitasking are not only a matter of quantity but, more importantly, quality,"

The emotional experience of multitasking is very different for mothers and fathers. Working mothers spend about 10 more hours per week multitasking than do working fathers. (Mark, Cheever, Nancy, Rosen, Larry, & Benitez , ( 2009 ).

Career women are doing two activities at once more than two-fifths of the time they are awake, while working fathers are multitasking more than a third of their waking hours.

There is a considerable disparity in the quality of the multitasking experience for working mothers and fathers. For mothers, multitasking is on the whole a negative experience, whereas it is not for fathers. Only mothers report negative emotions and Feeling stressed and conflicted when they multitask at home and in public settings. By contrast, multitasking in these contexts is a positive experience for fathers. Multitasking particularly at home and in public is a more negative experience for working mothers than for fathers because mothers' activities are more susceptible to outside scrutiny. And, when they have to multitask, women don't particularly enjoy it. When women are trying to do multiple things at once, this involves combining household chores and child rearing, as well as playing the wife role to their husband with their work.


1.2 Statement of the problem

Mayer and Moreno (1994) have studied the phenomenon of cognitive load in multimedia learning extensively and have concluded that it is difficult, and possibly impossible to learn new information while engaging in multitasking.

Multitasking affects academic success and engaging in multitasking creates more problems in academic work. The academic careers of men and women follow different pathways. Men are more mobile and gain promotion through their ability to change institutions. With family, relationships, childbearing and rearing, the women have less mobility. Feminist analyses suggest that male careers are always more likely to take precedence over female’s career within a relationship.

Women also start academic careers later, sometimes after child-rearing. This has negative career implications, particularly considering the traditional emphasis given to research in promotions. Often female academics come into it slightly later. They have not got that traditional leave school, go to university, get honours, go into a PhD, Become a tutor and do your research and by the time you are 30, you are ready to take on a management position. A lot of females come in later, start to do all their higher degrees and always take on administrative and management jobs because you’re good at it. You are doing it all. But then you have a research profile that is not as vibrant as that of the males who have been spending 10 years devoted to their research. The dominance of gendered ideologies is reflected in a deeply embedded belief in Western cultures that work is peripheral to women’s lives. Women are essentials in a patriarchal discourse that presumes heterosexuality, domesticity and motherhood.

Probert (1998) found that male academics were more likely to seek promotion than female academics at a similar level. Women were more cautious and undervalued their credentials.

Meanwhile, technology and increasing workplace demands have led to a blurring of the line between work and home. All this may be fueling more and more multitasking as women try to do more than one task simultaneously -- like talking on the phone while folding laundry -- and get done more in limited time. Working mothers are multitasking about two-fifths of their waking hours.

According to Nelson and Burke (2001), Women in academics tend to experience chronic stressors, such as the following:


The Glass Ceiling

Women are rare in upper levels of academia, according to a number of studies conducted by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins, and Berkeley. Women suffer biases in recruiting, selection, and promotion efforts, especially those in the sciences. Women in male-dominated departments may receive fewer professional developmental opportunities (e.g., mentoring and networking) and may face a negative bias in evaluations by both students and colleagues.

Workload and Role Overload

Academic jobs are oversized and growing larger. The economic realities of academia mean that universities require faculty to teach more courses than ever before, while maintaining active research programme, obtaining significant grants and other sources of funding, and mentoring and advising students. Academic careers pose tripartite demands of research, teaching, and service; at many institutions--perhaps the majority--professors find that campus time is taken up mostly by the latter two, leaving research and writing for evenings and weekends - time that many women need to keep up their homes and raise their families. Regardless of whether they hold a career, women tend to shoulder a greater proportion of domestic work than do men, and they typically balance multiple conflicting roles--professional, mother, house worker, etc. When domestic work is coupled with a busy professional life, the workload can become burdensome, and it increases significantly with each child. Many (especially younger, untenured) women in the academy chronically face a difficult choice: to do the research they must do to keep their jobs and earn tenure or complete essential domestic obligations.

Maternal Wall

Many academic women feel that their career opportunities are limited after having children. Colleagues may assume that they have sold out and are no longer committed to their careers--which may influence tenure, promotion, and other opportunities for advancement (like appointment to chairs, deanships, and high-profile committees).

Even women who attempt to circumvent the maternal wall by having children during graduate school often are penalized.

Inappropriate Behaviors and Sexual Harassment

Women in nontraditional fields are especially prone to experiencing a continuum of harassing behaviors, from behaviors likely to be seen as harmless by male colleagues, like mild flirtation and sexual jokes, to more obvious acts like inappropriate touching and repeated requests for dates or other favours. Often harassment comes under the guise of joking or kidding. The perpetrator may honestly believe that it is simply a joke. However, many academic women find themselves in the uncomfortable position of correcting colleagues, who may, in turn, accuse her of overreacting.

Each of these stressors is linked to increased susceptibility to several kinds of distress, including burnout, poor well-being, and poor satisfaction with job and life. While men are more likely to suffer serious chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and hypertension, as a result of stress, women tend to suffer from a much wider variety of psychological and physical complaints. Women report more overall distress than men do and tend to experience higher levels of psychophysiological symptoms in response to stress--headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, anxiety, hostility, dizziness, nausea, pounding heart, lack of motivation, and various acute and chronic illnesses.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that academic women experience more health problems than men. This may just be an example of the confirmation bias - only noticing evidence that supports my view, but it certainly seems that academic women suffer from more health problems than men. In addition, parental work stress is associated with higher levels of parent-child conflict--which suggests that it is not just women, but also their children, who are negatively affected by work stress. Stressors are interactive and cumulative: The more stressors one experiences, the greater the likelihood of stress-related health problems.

Multitasking impacts on the body and psychological state, and this researchers work will give evidence for really seeing multitasking as a significant public health issue for women because it affects their productivity both in their career and marital role.



How do women cope with marital roles vis a vis their career?

How do their marital roles affect their career?

What is the role of gender in climbing the career ladder?



The general aim of this study is to examine the roles and career of female academics in selected universities in Lagos and Ogun States, Nigeria.

To achieve this overall aim, the study has the following specific objectives:

To examine how multitasking affects the female career pursuit.

To determine the cultural beliefs and limitation associated with gender on the female role.

To examine how multitasking affects the productivity of the female in the work place.

To determine how career and family can be managed without one affecting the other.



Discrimination against women has been a long-standing issue with which society continues to grapple. As soon as you are born a woman, people start limiting your Possibilities, regardless of what qualities you display (Abiola, 2004). It is therefore not in dispute that from the beginning of civilization, women have suffered subjugation, degradation, oppression and all forms of inhuman treatment on account of their gender. This is especially so in Africa where gender roles are distinct. The women are occupied with domestic responsibilities, which typically involve household chores and caring for the home (Majanja and Kiplang’at, 2003). The status of women, including the different professions, has been a cause of serious concern in every culture and every climate through the years (Falaiye, 2004). In the past, particularly in Africa, more emphasis was placed on educating the male child than the female child. Even when a female child grew up and wanted to take on a job, she was left with limited choices. Typical female jobs included petty trading, subsistence farming and causal labour. These were low paying and low status jobs.

The situation is a lot different now because of improved access to education by women which has broadened their horizons and given them many job options. In the past 20 years, in particular, there has been a shift away from looking at gender inequality as an issue that affects women only, occasioned by an understanding of the nature of power as gender and its implications for society as a whole (International Idea, 2000). It is common therefore to find women all over the world in different professions and at different levels competing with their male counterparts. The Nigerian constitution (1963), reviewed (1999), upholds equal position and opportunities for men and women. By this, women acquire the same training alongside the opposite sex (male) thus acquiring the same experience which is the bed-rock of leadership qualities.

Years of equal opportunity rule, affirmative action strategy and anti-discrimination legislation in favour of women have failed to deliver the desired rise in hierarchy for female academics.

Some views seem established from decades of research on women in higher education management. They include the following:

  • Women are fewer in number than men in senior academic and administrative positions in the academic world.
  • An established patriarchal culture in the academic world prevents women from climbing the ladder to senior positions.

Numerically, women trail behind men in senior positions in the Universites. In Covenant University, out of 395 teaching staff only 111 are female and out of which only two are professors, University still a long way from the 35% minimum threshold recommended in the Nigerian gender policy.

A certain principle of education says that when you educate a man, you only educate an individual, but when you educate a woman, you educate a nation or a community. This implies that the worth of a woman is immeasurably more than the worth of a man. There is a potential multiplier effect in the community from the positive influence of most women. I believe women have perspectives to contribute, a role to play. Give them a role to play and they are likely to do it more efficiently than or as efficiently as men

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