Worker mental and physical well-being are influenced by gender in the workplace, according to a study that analyzed the impact of supervisor and subordinate gender on health.
Using data from a 2005 national survey of working adults in the United States, Scott Schieman and Taralyn McMullen of the University of Toronto reviewed the psychological distress levels and physical symptoms (e.g., headaches, fatigue) of workers who were managed by either two supervisors (one male, one female), one same-sex supervisor or one supervisor of a different sex.
The findings revealed that women working under a lone female supervisor reported more distress and physical symptoms than did women working for a male supervisor. Women who reported to a mixed-gender pair of supervisors indicated a higher level of distress and physical symptoms than their counterparts with one male manager.
The researchers also found that men working under a single supervisor had similar levels of distress regardless of their boss’ gender. When supervised by two managers, one male and one female, men reported lower distress levels and fewer physical symptoms than men who worked for a lone male supervisor.
- Scott Schieman and Taralyn McMullen. Relational Demography in the Workplace and Health: An Analysis of Gender and the Subordinate-Superordinate Role-Set. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, September 2008 [link]
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