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Depression a Bigger Problem for Women Bosses, Study Suggests

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A new study shows that women bosses struggle with depression more than their male counterparts. The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, examined just under 3,000 middle-aged women and men.

The University of Texas at Austin study involved interviews with 1,300 men and 1,500 women, all of them graduates of Wisconsin high schools. Those behind the study asked participants about their responsibilities at work and how they felt about their jobs.

The finding: when women participants found themselves in jobs where they had to hire and fire people they were 9 per cent more likely to suffer from depression when compared to women in positions lacking such responsibilities. Remarkably, men in positions of authority were 10 per cent less likely to be depressed when compared to men in positions which featured no control over hiring, firing, and changes in pay.

The University of Texas researchers said they were careful to control for other factors behind depression, including hours worked each week.

Researcher Tetyana Pudrovska says it’s a surprising but important discovery. “These women have more education, higher incomes, more prestigious occupations, and higher levels of job satisfaction and autonomy than women without job authority,” Pudrovska said. “Yet they have worse mental health than lower status women.”

Dr. Ruth Sealy, a researcher at City University in London, England, says the study shows women continue to face adversity in the workplace. “Because we assume men’s ‘natural’ competence as leaders, women often have had to work much harder to get to those positions, only to find that even when they get there, their ‘right’ to that status is continuously questioned,” Sealy said.

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