Roots and Causes of Occupational Stress amongst Female Academics in Universities of Technology in South Africa

Mercillene Mathews, Njabulo Khumalo, Bongani Innocent Dlamini


Stress and stress-related problems have negative human resource and financial implications for Universities of Technology (UoT) in terms of absenteeism, productivity, organizational effectiveness, employee morale and medical aid subsidies. For tertiary institutions, the impact of stressed academics on core business activities relating to students and examinations are far-reaching. The paper assessed the roots and causes of occupational stress amongst female academics in a UoT in South Africa. The paper adopted a qualitative research approach with a focus group of selected female academics in the UoT. The paper revealed that workload and performance management, as well as family life and personal life; teaching vs research and administration; Covid-19 and online teaching and learning; holidays and leave and lack of leave; meetings and support deficiency; resources and lack of care and empathy, as well as poor HR, bullying and imposition and a lack of professionalism; nepotism and favouritism; retrenchments and instability, along with poor recognition and appreciation, were the roots that contribute to occupational stress in the UoT in SA. The paper recommends that effective interventions be implemented by the UoT in order to manage the stress of these female academics, thereby reducing the negative impact thereof on themselves and the institution. University policy-makers should devise a variety of solutions in a well-balanced package that places responsibility on both the university and staff to manage occupational stress.

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Copyright (c) 2022 Mercillene Mathews, Njabulo Khumalo, Bongani Innocent Dlamini

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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