HealthDay News — Being in a managerial position at work may increase the odds for symptoms of depression among women, but not men, according to research published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
To explore the effect of job authority on the change in depressive symptoms, the investigators followed middle-aged women (n=1,500) and middle-aged men (n=1,300) between 1993 and 2004.
“Women with job authority — the ability to hire, fire, and influence pay — have significantly more symptoms of depression than women without this power,” said Tetyana Pudrovska, PhD, of the University of Texas in Austin, and colleagues in a press release from the American Sociological Association.
Within-gender comparisons indicated that women with job authority reported more depressive symptoms compared with women without job authority, whereas men in authority positions are overall less depressed than men without job authority.
“These women have more education, higher incomes, more prestigious occupations, and higher levels of job satisfaction and autonomy than women without job authority. Yet, they have worse mental health than lower-status women,” said Pudrovska.
Pudrovska offered a possible explanation for the findings. “Years of social science research suggests that women in authority positions deal with interpersonal tension, negative social interactions, negative stereotypes, prejudice, social isolation, as well as resistance from subordinates, colleagues, and superiors,” she said.
“Women in authority positions are viewed as lacking the assertiveness and confidence of strong leaders. But when these women display such characteristics, they are judged negatively for being unfeminine. This contributes to chronic stress.”
On the other hand, male bosses generally have less stress because they don’t face the same resistance or negative stereotypes, she suggested.