Introduction: The family studies conducted worldwide revealed an increase in female headed families. In the current situation, the increase in female headed families will lead to the increase in poverty and social vulnerability as well as a high prevalence of psychological pressure in the society. The increase in the number of working women, particularly those of female headed families who make a living by peddling their wares around the subways, can have an impact on changing the family patterns on the one hand, and reflects the changed patterns caused by the structural transformation in the family which is manifested in the social relations, on the other hand. This is a fact that our society is faced with the pressure of traditionalist cultural patterns regarding men and women’s roles and gender-based division of labour, on the one hand, and it requires the acceptance of broader social and economic roles by women and their higher participation in accepting the responsibilities and solving the problems of the family life, on the other hand. This study aimed to identify the effects of performing multiple roles on , female peddlers in subways their attitudes toward themselves and their strategies to address the role pressure.
Method: A qualitative study using observation techniques and semi-structured interviews with female peddlers in the subways was applied. Participants were chosen through snowball sampling, a non-probability sampling technique.
Findings: This study approved the role accumulation theory and the role enhancement theory describe in the theoretical framework. The multiple roles of subway female peddlers (e.g.economic role, maternal role and housekeeping) provided them with a set of opportunities and constraints. Having a job was associated with developing skills and creating a regularly scheduled framework for life and it had minimized the
psychological pressures caused by the conflict of the roles. Therefore, the results showed that having multiple roles does not affect women destructively.
Discussion: The results of the study showed that although approaches, such as role plurality, role conflict and the pressure of role overload lead these women to have adverse conditions in terms of anxiety, fatigue and depression compared to those women who accept only the traditional roles (e.g. housekeeping), having a job
leads to higher self-esteem, more financial independence as well as achieving extensive social support. Moreover, by creating feelings of usefulness, a part of the psychological needs are met and their capability and self-confidence are increased.