Men’s Work, Women’s Stress

Women in male-dominated professions may have higher stress patterns

In male-dominated jobs, women may have a tougher time.

At least that's the message from a new research project from Indiana University (IU) that found that women in male-dominated jobs may experience unhealthy changes in a stress hormone called cortisol.

"We find that such women are more likely to experience exposure to high levels of interpersonal, workplace stressors," said study co-author Bianca Manago, a doctoral student in sociology at IU, in a press release. "We find that women in male-dominated occupations have less healthy, or 'dysregulated,' patterns of cortisol throughout the day."

According to a 2014 US Bureau of Labor Statistics report, human resources managers, elementary school teachers, waitpersons and psychologists were overwhelmingly female.

On the other hand, firefighters, chemistry teachers, police and mechanical engineers were overwhelmingly male.

Women who work in male-dominated jobs are known to face social isolation. They may also face performance pressures, sexual harassment and other obstacles.

According to these researchers, chronic stress from these challenges can increase susceptibility to disease.

Manago and team used data from the MIDUS National Study of Daily Experiences to look at jobs that were 85 percent or more male. The data included cortisol levels.

The women who had these jobs were found to have abnormal cortisol secretion patterns, which indicate high stress related to the workplace.

These findings were presented at the 110th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer-reviewed.

No funding sources or conflicts of interest were disclosed.