Stress in the work environment is often associated with men, as women are easily able to talk or cry it over on a friend’s shoulder, while men are thought to suffer silently and alone.
However, new research by American scientists, suggests otherwise, claiming that women in a position of authority, are more likely to display symptoms of stress than men.
Men on the other hand, said the study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, are able to decrease their depressive symptoms when positions where they have the power to hire and fire.
The scientists from Texas University interviewed 1, 300 male and 1,500 female graduates in 1993 and 2004 when they were aged 54 and 64 respectively.
They asked the participants about job authority, conscious difficulty in making critical decisions, how frequently they were monitored and days they felt depressed in the past week.
When the task to be accomplished included firing, influencing pay or making an important last resort decision, women in authority were found to have a nine per cent increased rate of depressive symptoms than men in authority.
Men with similar tasks had a 10 per cent decreased rate of depressive symptoms.
The study further reported that female bosses were more frequently monitored by their advisers than men, felt more pressure to get the job done, and were less likely to fix concise job timelines compared to their male counterparts.
The study controlled other factors that could cause depression, such as hours worked weekly, their flexibility and how often the workers were checked by a supervisor, but lead researcher, Dr Tetyana Pudrovska found that though women in power were more professionally and academically qualified, they still had poor mental health than women in lower ranks.
Female bosses, added Dr Pudrovska, have had to deal with interpersonal tension, negative social interactions, stereotypes, prejudice, social isolation, as well as resistance and undermining from subordinates, colleagues and superiors.
Curiously, according to the study, when women adopted traditionally masculine behaviours as leaders, they were criticised for faking it by being unfeminine, yet colleagues would not believe the women were good leaders if they saw only their feminine characteristics.
According to Dr Pudrovska, female leadership needs to be made as natural as male leadership and companies should think about what they ought to do to help their workers manage stress.