WAW Methodology

Research Design
The Women at Work Study (WAW) targeted women aged 40 years and over, in academic, administrative and executive level roles at three Australian Universities. Data were collected via an online survey over a two-month period, between November 2013 and January 2014. The study was promoted through the Universities’ communication channels, including all-staff emails and advertisements on staff intranet homepages. A click through link to the online survey was provided. The online survey included questions relating to health and lifestyle; well-being; menstrual status and menopause-related symptoms; employment conditions; job characteristics; and work outcomes. The survey included widely used and well-validated scales to assess women’s health (e.g. SF-12v2, Maruish, 2012) and women’s enjoyment and engagement at work (e.g. work engagement, Schaufeli et al., 2006; and job satisfaction, Cammann et al., 1983).  The project was approved by the ethics committees of all institutions involved.

Sample
The Women at Work survey was completed by 839 female university employees aged 40 years and over, who were employed as academic, administrative or executive level staff:

  • Uni A (421) 18.9% of the known population of female staff aged 40+;
  • Uni B (259) 6.7% of the known population of female staff aged 40+; and
  • Uni C (159) 17.2% of the known population of female staff aged 40+.

The percentage of participants in each position type from each participating University is presented below in Table 1.

Table 1 – Percentage of sample in each position type by participating University

  Uni A (N=421) Uni B (N=259) Uni C (N=159) Total (N=839)
  % (n) % (n) % (n) % (n)
Position type    
Academic 36.6 (154) 43.6 (113) 38.4  (61) 39.1 (328)
Administrative 59.4 (250) 51.4 (133) 57.2  (91) 56.5 (474)
Executive Level 4.0 (17) 5.0 (13) 4.4  (7) 4.4 (37)

The percentage of participants by position title is presented separately for academic and administrative staff in Table 2. Note: in this table, administrative staff includes executive level staff.

Table 2 – Percentage of academic and administrative staff by position title*

Academic Staff (N=328) Administrative Staff (N=511)
position title % (n) position title % (n)
Research Assistant 3.4 (11) Librarian 4.6 (23)
Research Officer 2.5 (8) Assistant 12.5 (63)
Associate Lecturer 4.7 (15) Officer 26.8 (135)
Research Fellow 3.8 (12) Coordinator or Supervisor 19.6 (99)
Lecturer 29.5 (94) Senior Coordinator 5.8 (29)
Senior Research Fellow 3.8 (12) Manager 23.4 (118)
Senior Lecturer 19.4 (62) Executive Level 7.3 (37)
Principal Research Fellow 0.9 (3)
Reader/Associate Professor 17.2 (55)
Professor 14.7 (47)

*Tallies do not add to total N because of missing data.

Data Analysis
Responses from the three participating Universities were combined for the analyses presented in this report (N=839). Regressions, T-tests, ANOVAs and Chi-Square statistical tests were used to test for significant differences between age groups (40 to 49 year olds; 50 to 59 year olds; and 60+ year olds), menstrual status groups (pre-menopausal; peri-menopausal; and post-menopausal) and position types (academic; and administrative/executive level). Differences in mean scale scores and differences in percentages are only reported in text if they are statistically significant at p<.05.

Sample Demographics
Respondents ranged in age from 40 to 75 years with a mean age of 51.3 years. More details of the sample demographics are presented in Table 3.

Table 3 – A description of the sample (N = 839)

  Frequency Percentage of Sample
  n %
Age Range
40 – 49 years 358 42.7
50 – 59 years 385 45.9
60+ years 96 11.4
Place of birth
Australia 613 74.2
United Kingdom 84 10.2
New Zealand 20 2.4
USA 20 2.4
Other 89 10.8
Highest Education Achieved
Some Secondary School 40 4.8
All of Secondary School 49 5.8
Tertiary Diploma or Trade Certificate 108 12.9
University Degree (undergraduate) 142 16.9
University Degree (postgraduate) 500 59.6
Relationship Status
Married/Partnered 625 75.7
Single 115 13.9
Divorced 68 8.2
Other 18 2.2
Number of Children
None 199 23.9
1 child 126 15.1
2 children 326 39.1
3 or more children 182 21.9


Employment Characteristics
Participants were asked a number of questions regarding their workplace and their employment conditions. Employment characteristics of the sample are presented below in Table 4. Percentages are presented separately for each age group.

Table 4 – Employment characteristics by age group*

  40 – 49 year olds (N=358) 50 – 59 year olds (N=385) 60+ year olds (N=96) total(N=839)
  % (n) % (n) % (n) % (n)
Employment status
Full time 63.0 (220) 72.1 (269) 66.0 (62) 67.5 (551)
Part time 28.9 (101) 22.3 (83) 22.3 (21) 25.1 (205)
Casual 6.9 (24) 4.3 (16) 6.4 (6) 5.6 (46)
Other 1.1 (4) 1.3 (5) 5.3 (5) 1.7 (14)
Contractual arrangement
Fixed-term 29.8 (104) 24.9 (93) 29.8 (28) 27.6 (225)
Continuing 62.2 (217) 69.4 (259) 58.5 (55) 65.1 (531)
Casual 6.9 (24) 4.3 (16) 6.4 (6) 5.6 (46)
Other 1.1 (4) 1.3 (5) 5.3 (5) 1.7 (14)
Tenure length in years
Less than 1 year 5.4 (19) 3.8 (14) 3.2  (3) 4.4 (36)
Between 1 and 10 years 70.2 (245) 51.8 (192) 30.9 (29) 57.2 (466)
Between 11 and 20 years 20.3 (71) 28.6 (106) 35.1 (33) 25.8 (210)
More than 20 years 4.0 (14) 15.9 (59) 30.9 (29) 12.5 (102)
Union membership
Member 35.6 (127) 48.3 (185) 34.8 (32) 41.3 (344)
Non-member 64.4 (230) 51.7 (198) 65.2 (60) 58.7  (488)

*Tallies do not add to total N because of missing data.

As shown in Table 4, the majority of participants were employed on a full-time basis (67.5%) and on a continuing contract (65.1%). Under half of the respondents (41.3%) reported they were a member of a union. Employment status differed significantly by age group: women aged between 40 and 49 years were more likely to be working on a part time or casual basis than their older colleagues aged between 50 and 59 years.

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