University Study Finds Women in Positions of Authority Are More Likely to Be Depressed

Tetyana-PudrovskaA new study led by Tetyana Pudrovska, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, finds that women who hold jobs that have a high degree of authority over other people in the workplace are more likely to develop symptoms of depression than other women. The study also found that men who are given a high degree of authority in the workplace are less likely than other men to develop depressive symptoms.

“Women with job authority — the ability to hire, fire and influence pay — have significantly more symptoms of depression than women without this power,” said Dr. Pudrovska. “In contrast, men with job authority have fewer symptoms of depression than men without such power.”

“What’s striking,” continued Dr. Pudrovska, “is that women with job authority in our study are advantaged in terms of most characteristics that are strong predictors of positive mental health. 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.”

The authors conclude that men in positions of authority deal with less stress because they do not have to overcome the resistance and negative stereotypes faced by women in positions of authority.

Dr. Pudrovska holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kharkiv National University in the Ukraine. She earned a second master’s degree at the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The study, “Gender, Job Authority, and Depression,” was co-authored by Amelia Karraker, an assistant professor at Iowa State University. The research was published in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. It may be accessed here.

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