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Workplace climate responsible for gender-based job stress

PTI | Updated on: Thursday, May 30, 2019, 02:10 PM IST

Portrait of business people discussing a new strategy at a seminar |
Portrait of business people discussing a new strategy at a seminar |
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Washington: The gender-based job stress which women face is because of the workplace climate and not due to their ‘nature’ as commonly thought, a new study suggests, reports PTI. Social scientists have long known that women working in numerically male-dominated occupations like physics and firefighting report experiencing workplace stress, but men who work in numerically female-dominated occupations like nursing and child care do not, researchers said.

The study by Cate Taylor from Indiana University in the US found that gender-based stress is experienced due to the workplace, and not because of something about the women. She designed and carried out an experiment that subjected both men and women to the negative social conditions that many women report experiencing in male-dominated occupations.

The result was that men showed the same physiological stress response to the conditions as did women. “Women are not especially sensitive to negative workplace social conditions. Rather, both women and men exhibit similar responses to the same types of stressful workplace conditions,” she said.

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The study focuses on what Taylor calls “gendered social exclusion,” behaviour that would tend to make “token” women or men feel excluded from a group of mostly opposite-sex coworkers. For example, men might exclude female co-workers by talking constantly about sports or other stereotypically male interests.

To determine the effect of gendered social exclusion, Taylor placed female study participants in experimental groups with three male confederates and male study participants in groups with three female confederates.

The confederates were trained to make the study participants feel excluded by talking about stereotypically masculine topics (sports, video games and a class in business statistics) or stereotypically feminine topics (shopping, yoga and pilates, and a class in child development) and by subtly excluding the participants from the conversations.

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Published on: Friday, July 15, 2016, 10:58 AM IST