Women in authority appear to be more vulnerable to depression than their male counterparts, a study by sociologists in the United States said.
Researchers looked into 1,500 middle-aged women from Wisconsin and compared their workplace experiences with 1,300 men in the same age bracket from the same US state.
They found that women with job authority — the ability to hire, fire and influence pay — exhibited significantly more symptoms of depression than those who did not.
“In contrast, men with job authority have fewer symptoms of depression than men without such power,” said University of Texas sociology professor Tetyana Pudrovska, who led the study.
The difference might be due to women with authority in the workplace being judged negatively when acting with confidence and assertiveness, prompting chronic stress, Pudrovska said.
Men, on other hand, do not have to wrestle with the negative stereotypes that haunt women, she said.
“What?s striking is that women with job authority in our study are advantaged in terms of most characteristics that are strong predictors of positive mental health,” Pudrovska added.
They might have more education, better pay, more prestigious occupations and higher levels of job satisfaction and autonomy, “yet they have worse mental health than lower-status women,” she said.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, appears in the December issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Health and Social Behavior.