The role of gender in workplace stress: A critical literature review
Objective The aim of this review was to evaluate research relating to the role of gender in the level of workplace stress. A further aim was to review literature relating to stressors of particular relevance to working women. These stressors included, multiple roles, lack of career progress and discrimination and stereotyping. Design Systematic review. Method Major databases were searched in order to identify studies investigating gender and workplace stress. A range of research designs
included and no restrictions were made on the basis of the ...view middle of the document...
Downloaded from hej.sagepub.com at University of Keele on January 11, 2015
(HSE)’- stress is defined as ’the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’. Approaches to stress have distinguished between the concepts of stressor and strain. Environmental factors that may function as sources of stress are called stressors, and the individual’s reaction to the stressors is called strain3. Transactional approaches to stress emphasise the transaction between the cognitive and affective aspects of the individual and their environment4,5. A cognitive definition of stress has been proposed by Palmer, Cooper & Thomas6 as ’stress occurs when the perceived pressure exceeds your perceived ability to cope’ (p.2). The term stress has been conceptualised in a variety of ways and this can lead to confusion regarding the meaning of the term’. The current review will use the stress/stressor terminology employed in the articles reviewed.
Gender and workplace stress Research suggests that working is generally related to positive health for women8,9,IO, and men’. However, as noted previously, workplace stress is a major problem, and it has
been suggested that gender may be an important demographic characteristic to consider in the experience of stress&dquo;. While on the one hand it has been reported that there are no differences between women and men in relation to workplace stress12, it has also been noted that there are differences in both stressors and the severity of stress between the sexes9,13,14,15. It has been reported that although women and men are exposed to the same stressors, women are also facing unique stressors’6°’3. Indeed, Hofboll, Geller & Dunahooll suggest that it is important to consider the stressors that are unique to employed women, as this can increase the understanding of the specific needs of working women. This is particularly important according to Hofboll et all’ as several studies have found that the provision of workplace support was more effective in reducing occupational stress in men than in women8,18. Research has reported that women in particular are exposed to the following stressors: multiple roles’9; lack of career progress 20 ; and discrimination and stereotyping2l,??. First, the current review will present and evaluate research that has investigated the role of gender in the level of workplace stress. Second, it will present and evaluate research and theory concerning working women and the stressors of’multiple roles’, ’lack of career progress’ and ’discrimination and stereotyping’. It is acknowledged that men also experience strain from particular stressors, but these will not be discussed in the present review (for further information see Burke23). There have been several reviews of the literature within this area but most of these were conducted during the 1980S8,11,12,14 . A more recent review of the literature was focused on stress and female managers 17....