“Women with job authority – the ability to hire, fire and influence pay – have significantly more symptoms of depression than women without this power,” said sociologist Tatyana Pudrovska.
In contrast, men with job authority have fewer symptoms of depression than men without such power, she added.
The study analysed over 1,300 middle-aged men and 1,500 middle-aged women who graduated from high schools in Wisconsin.
According to Pudrovska, women without job authority exhibit slightly more symptoms of depression on an average than men without job authority.
“We found that 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,” Pudrovska commented.
So why does having job authority increase symptoms of depression in women?
“Women in authority positions deal with interpersonal tension, negative social interactions, negative stereotypes, prejudice, social isolation as well as resistance from subordinates, colleagues and superiors,” Pudrovska explained.
Women in authority positions are viewed as lacking the assertiveness and confidence of strong leaders.
But when these women display such characteristics, they are judged negatively for being unfeminine. This contributes to chronic stress, she added.
According to authors, men in authority positions generally deal with fewer stressors because they do not have to overcome the resistance and negative stereotypes that women often face.
The study was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.