Occupational Culture, Drinking, and Women: An Incomplete Research Picture

Ames, Genevieve M.; and Rebhun, L.A.

Ames, G.M. and Rebhun, L.-A. "Occupational culture, drinking, and women: An incomplete research picture." In J.M. Howard, S.E. Martin, P.D. Mail, M.E. Hilton, and E.D. Taylor (eds.) Women and Alcohol:, issue Monograph 32, pgs. 261-289 (1996)

In the past 40 years, women's roles both inside and outside the home have undergone enormous changes in the United States. As an ever-growing number of women enter the workplace, many of them have had to adapt to multiple roles in the two demanding domains, of home and job. This increase in the number of women who work outside the home has sparked an interest in the impact of both the workplace role and workplace conditions on female drinking patterns. Research on these phenomena is needed to build better outreach and treatment programs for women who are alcohol dependent (Roman 1988) and is critical to the development of programs to prevent alcohol problems. Of special importance is the question of whether and how certain physical and psychosocial elements of the workplace environment influence the development of heavier drinking and problem drinking for women. This research need is addressed in this chapter by first presenting a critique of surveys on work-related drinking that have included women in their samples. Second, the issue of specific kinds of workplace environments that could put women employees at risk for, or conversely, offer protection against drinking problems is discussed. Because so few studies have focused on women in this regard, the literature does not offer a strong case for linking drinking practices of employed women to workplace culture, although several studies exist on this issue for male workers. In an attempt to generate more research activity in this area, an area critical to prevention, this chapter examines job tasks, roles, and gender issues in four types of occupational settings·two that are traditionally female dominated and two that are traditionally male dominated. Potential risk factors are discussed, as are suggestions for further research in the context of theoretical models that have been developed from existing studies on traditionally male work populations.