Sad news for equality in the workplace: Women who work in male-dominated fields are more likely to have elevated stress levels, according to a new study.
Researchers from Indiana University Bloomington looked at daily stress hormones in more than 440 American women who work in jobs where men make up 85 percent of the workforce (a few examples: engineers, construction workers, and painters).
"Women in male-dominated occupations have less healthy, or ‘dysregulated,’ patterns of cortisol throughout the day,” said researcher Bianca Manago in a press release.
Cortisol is a hormone released by the body in response to stress, and elevated levels can impair your body's healthy functions, including spiking your weight and causing more serious effects, like impacting heart health.
So, why does working around too many Y chromosomes cause so much stress? According to the study, being the lone woman in a group of all men can make women feel socially isolated and unsupported. The male-female ratio also ups the chances of experiencing sexual harassment. All these factors can cause chronic stress.
If any of this sounds familiar, it's time to reevaluate if your job is worth the stress — or if it's time to call HR. While many rationalize stress as a "normal" part of the workday, stress that consistently elevates your cortisol levels and potentially leads to health problems down the road (such as anxiety, sleep issues, weight gain, and heart disease) is anything but.
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