Monday, May 11, 2015

Dear Mr. Maslow – Does your “hierarchy of needs” apply to the “Working Mom”?


I think I first came across the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a teenager. The theory fascinated me a great deal as it put an over-arching framework to human motivators, behaviors and life itself!

For those who don’t know, Maslow wanted to understand what motivates people. He believed that people possess a set of motivation systems unrelated to rewards or unconscious desires. Maslow (1943) stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs. When one need is fulfilled a person seeks to fullfil the next one, and so on. The earliest and most widespread version of Maslow's (1943, 1954) hierarchy of needs includes five motivational needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

maslow's hierarchy of needs five stage pyramide
This five stage model can be divided into basic (or deficiency) needs (e.g. physiological, safety, love, and esteem) and growth needs (self-actualization).The deficiency, or basic needs are said to motivate people when they are unmet. Also, the need to fulfil such needs will become stronger the longer the duration they are denied. For example, the longer a person goes without food the more hungry they will become.

One must satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs. Once these needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization.[Src : SimplyPsychology]

Ever since I became a working mother myself, I can’t help but ponder on the application of the hierarchy of needs apply to the working mom.

As I look at all the working mothers around me, I’m fascinated by some of the observations I see –
Almost all working mothers I know compromise of one of these needs – sleep (or adequate rest), food (or eating healthy) , clothes (or personal grooming if you will) or sex! 

And based on the women at work survey I did, the key reasons for women to work is to leverage their knowledge and skills, to be productive and for financial independence.


So in an attempt to reach the "Esteem stage", these women appear to be short-circuiting / fast-tracking the "Psychological / Safety / Social" stage of life. In the long run, this is sure to have impact in their life?

What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know

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