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A comparative study of the work–life balance experiences and coping mechanisms of Nigerian and British single student-working mothers

Tonbara Mordi (Brunel University Law School, Brunel University London, London, UK)
Toyin Ajibade Adisa (Royal Docks School of Business and Law, University of East London, London, UK)
Olatunji David Adekoya (Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University College of Business Technology and Engineering, Sheffield, UK)
Kareem Folohunso Sani (Royal Docks School of Business and Law, University of East London, London, UK)
Chima Mordi (Brunel Business School, Brunel University, London, UK)
Muhammad Naseer Akhtar (Department of Business Management, Entrepreneurship, and Finance, University of East London, London, UK)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 3 April 2023

Issue publication date: 27 April 2023

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Abstract

Purpose

Recent gender-related research has focused on how gender affects work–life balance (WLB), particularly whether men and women have similar difficulties balancing work and family demands. However, to broaden WLB research beyond its concentration on employees to a different population, this study investigates the WLB experiences of single student-working mothers.

Design/methodology/approach

This article uses a qualitative study using three focus groups to compare Nigerian and British single student-working mothers' WLB experiences and coping strategies or mechanisms adopted in these two contexts.

Findings

The findings indicate that, regardless of nationality, single student-working mothers are affected by inter-role conflict, role ambiguity, role strain, role overload and external role pressures, which make achieving WLB a herculean task. Nevertheless, given the different political, economic and socio-cultural landscapes of the two countries, the extent to which the aforementioned factors impact single student-working mothers varies and influences the range of coping mechanisms adopted in the two contexts.

Practical implications

The insights gleaned from this study suggest that there are huge challenges for single student-working mothers in terms of achieving WLB due to their status as students, workers and mothers. Combining these roles negatively affect their WLB and level of productivity and effectiveness, at home, at work and at university. This poses significant implications for human resource structures, policies and practices. The authors suggest that single student-mothers should learn from their counterparts' experiences and coping mechanisms, and that organisations and government should also provide adequate support to help them combine their challenging roles. This would ease the tension associated with combining multiple roles and enhance their well-being and WLB.

Originality/value

The study calls for a re-examination of WLB policies and practices at organisational and national levels to ensure that single student-working mothers are well supported to enhance their productivity and WLB.

Keywords

Citation

Mordi, T., Adisa, T.A., Adekoya, O.D., Sani, K.F., Mordi, C. and Akhtar, M.N. (2023), "A comparative study of the work–life balance experiences and coping mechanisms of Nigerian and British single student-working mothers", Career Development International, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 217-233. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-10-2022-0280

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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