Oftentimes, work can be stressful. Between deadlines, the phone ringing off the hook, and the stack of requests building up in the corner, the daily grind can become frustrating. However, that frustration is not always the same for everyone. De Sio et al. (2017) completed a study examining the stress levels of people in the workplace and later decided to take the research a step further and examine gender differences in relation to stress. As it turns out, female employees frequently experience more stress than their male peers.
The study utilized the two scales to assess levels of stress. The Health and Safety Executive Indicator Tool (HSE-IT) examines 6 components of the workplace: demands placed on the employee, their perception of control in the workplace, their perceived feeling of support from employers, the quality of peer relationships, their understanding of their role, and how change is communicated to employees. The second screener, the WHO-5, examined feelings of satisfaction in life and the workplace through 5 brief questions. On both tests, the study found female employees consistently demonstrated lower workplace satisfaction when compared to their male peers. Most notably, female employees reported increased concerns in the Relationship domain on the HSE-IT, suggesting they felt poor peer interactions impacted their work experience. Questions in the Relationship domain examine workplace harassment and “friction” between employees, suggesting women are more subject to harassing comments that cause undue stress at work. Female employees also noted difficulties with Demand and Support from Managers. These concerns demonstrate that women employees report additional expectations being placed upon them by employers. However, these same employers are not providing them the same support they provide their male colleagues, creating a dynamic that is not inclusive to female employees and produces excess stress.
While the study does a good job of examining workplace dynamics and the gender differences related to stress, additional research would be useful to improve the current findings. Notably, the study was conducted in Italy, and while the results are beneficial the United States, it would be helpful to replicate the study in US workplaces to determine if the discrepancy in stress is similar or different to the Italian study. It would also be helpful to conduct the study in additional workplaces. The current study was conducted in a factory setting, and it would help to incorporate research in other settings to determine if there were differences among them. Overall, the study is very beneficial in helping illustrate the discrepancies in how male and female employees experience the workplace and creates a lot of room for discussion in how we can improve the workplace and make it feel safer and more accommodating.
De Sio, S., Cedrone, F., Sanità, D., Ricci, P., Corbosiero, P., Di Traglia, M., & … Stansfeld, S. (2017). Quality of life in workers and stress: Gender differences in exposure to psychosocial Risks and perceived well-Being. Biomed Research International, 1-6. doi:10.1155/2017/7340781
Michael Daniel, MA, LPA (temp)
WKPIC Doctoral Intern