Is gender an antecedent to workplace stressors? A systematic review and an empirical study using a person-centred approach

Roberta Fida, David Watson, Valerio Ghezzi, Claudio Barbaranelli, Matteo Ronchetti, Cristina Di Tecco

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Abstract

Objective: Work is a key domain of life in which gender inequality can manifest, yet gender is rarely the explicit focus of research seeking to understand exposure to stressors. We investigated this research gap in two studies. Methods: Study 1 was a systematic review of the relationship between gender and key stressors (e.g., high demands, poor support, lack of clarity and control). From a total of 13,376,130 papers met our inclusion criteria. Study 2 was a cross-sectional study that included 11,289 employees nested within 71 public organisations (50.6% men). Through a latent profile analysis, we investigated the profiles of stressors separately from men and women. Results: The systematic review revealed that, for all stressors, a significant proportion of studies found no significant gender differences, and the review found mixed evidence of greater exposure for both men and women. The results of Study 2 revealed that both genders could be optimally represented by three psychosocial risk profiles reflecting medium, low and high stressors. The results also showed that while the shape of profiles was similar for both genders, men had a higher probability than women of being in the virtuous (i.e., low stressors) profile, and the opposite pattern emerged for the average profile (i.e., medium levels of stressors). Men and women displayed the same likelihood of being classified in the at-risk profile (i.e., high levels of stressors). Conclusion: Gender differences in exposure to stressors are inconsistent. Although the literature on gender role theory and the gendering of work suggests different exposures to stressors in men and women, we find little empirical support for this.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5541
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume20
Issue number8
Early online date17 Apr 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

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