Tag Archives: workplace

‘Token’ women in male-dominated workplaces suffer more stress

28 Aug
Working in male-dominated environments makes women more susceptible to chronic stress. (pic courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/hin255)

Working in male-dominated environments makes women more susceptible to chronic stress. (pic courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/hin255)

Women who work in predominantly male workplaces are more prone to unhealthy levels of stress – and this is down to the environment, not to the woman’s personality type or the job she does. That’s according to a study by Indiana University into the stress exposure of women working in male-dominated professions.

The researchers measured the levels of stress hormone cortisol in women working in environments that were 85% male. “We found that women in male-dominated occupations have less healthy, or ‘dysregulated,’ patterns of cortisol throughout the day,” said co-researcher Bianca Manago, a doctoral student in sociology. ” Such women are more likely to experience exposure to high levels of interpersonal, workplace stressors.”

Those stressors and pressures can include doubts about the woman’s competence and performance, being excluded from after-work social activities, bumping against the glass ceiling, sometimes sexual harassment, and generally receiving little support. The study concluded that it’s exposure to these negative working conditions that puts ‘token’ women at risk of chronic stress – not the job they’re performing, or because they have high standards or a particular personality type. This ‘dysregulation of stress response’ – basically when too much cortisol is produced, leaving the woman in a state of high alert – can have consequences way down the line.

Co-researcher Cate Taylor, assistant professor of sociology and gender studies, added: “Our findings are especially important because dysregulated cortisol profiles are associated with negative health outcomes. This is evidence that the negative workplace social climates encountered by women in male-dominated occupations may be linked to later negative health outcomes for these women.”


Three-quarters of workers are stressed out by their boss

6 Aug

Bad, incompetent and nasty bosses are the biggest source of stress in the office, according to a leading US psychologist.

As reported in USA Today, psychologist Robert Hogan – addressing the American Psychological Association Annual Conference – said bad bosses are the worst thing 75% of working adults have to deal with in the office. Bad management can lead to stress, misery and time off work for many people – and those who do stand up to their bad bosses are often shown the door. Hogan is quoted as saying a “major cause of stress in modern life is bad management” and that stress has a negative effect on the immune system.

Anyone who has tried to second-guess bosses who keep changing their minds, suffered putdowns in key meetings – or gets blamed for something that hasn’t been done just to save the boss’s skin – will surely recognise Hogan’s point here.

A separate survey recently indicates that workplace stress can make you old before your time, leading to premature grey hair and wrinkles. And it appears that UK employees are among the most stressed in the world.

Looks like bad bosses have a lot to answer for. And their bad management practices need to be tackled. Pronto.

Managers are deluded in believing they’re better than they really are, says study

7 May

There is huge ‘reality gap’ between how good managers think they are and how good they really are, says a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Managers need to take a good look at themselves in the mirror, says CIPD. (pic: istockphoto.com/cokacoka)

The CIPD’s Employee Outlook Spring 2012 survey shows that managers have no idea just how bad they are at managing people – and their bad management skills is holding back the UK’s productivity and growth.

The research shows that while eight out of 10 managers believe their staff are satisfied or very satisfied with them as a manager, only 58% of employees. This has created a ‘reality gap’ that is affecting workplace performance. The study shows a clear link between staff who say they are satisfied with their manager and are willing to go the extra mile for their employer.

Here are some more stats that show the disparity between what goes on in managers’ heads and what is really happening from the employee’s perspective: Continue reading

Don’t bother showing your true self at work, says study

30 Apr

While we’re always being encouraged to be true to ourselves, there’s a limit to how and when we can express our authenticity, according to a new study.

Research from the University of Houston and the University of Greenwich shows that, while you’ll boost your happiness by being yourself and speaking your truth when you’re with close friends, family and loved ones, at work it’s better to keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself.

Dr Oliver Robinson, senior lecturer in the department of psychology and counselling at the University of Greenwich, presented the results of the research at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference 2012 in his seminar ‘Should you bother ‘being yourself’ at work? The effect of social context on the relationship between authenticity and wellbeing’.

Dr Robinson said it had no bearing on satisfaction at work whether you are authentic or fake – with only a third of people in the study saying they didn’t provide false information to people at work.

An article in Bloomberg Business Week quotes Dr Robinson as saying: “There is an awful amount of impression management at work, that is required at work. Being yourself at work doesn’t work because of a need to put on a front.”

So, if you’re tempted to share your innermost feelings with a colleague, it’s better not to bother.

High Pay Commission sets out plan to tackle pay inequalities

22 Nov

The High-Pay Commission has set out a 12-point plan to help tackle the inequalities in pay, and the damage that high pay causes to companies, the economy and society.

Its report Cheques With Balances: why tackling high pay is in the national interest is the result of an independent inquiry into why pay at the top has increased, and pay differentials have grown, over the past 30 years. It found that “stratospheric pay increases” had seen wealth flow towards the top 0.1% of earners and away from the average worker, creating a pay gap between rich and poor “that rivals that in some developing nations”.

Deborah Hargreaves, chair of the High Pay Commission, said: “The public is rapidly running out of patience with a system that allows those at the top to enrich themselves while everyone else struggles to make ends meet.”

The Commission’s 12-point plan includes Continue reading

Managers show favouritism to staff with strong work ethic

19 Oct

It’s perhaps no surprise that managers have their favourites among their workforce, but their biases could be affected by the friendships they have with their staff.

That’s according to a survey of 1000 employers by HR consultancy Reabur.com, 31% of managers said they favoured certain members of their team because of their strong work ethic. Of those who show favouritism, 18% said it was because the staff member showed loyalty; 25% said they liked the person’s personality; and 11% because they appreciated the person’s sense of humour.

However, 61% said they have personal friendships with their staff, compared with just 27% who don’t.

Georgina Read, co-managing director of Reabur.com, said friendships at work, particularly in small businesses, can help make a happy, productive and focused workplace.

However, she warned: ‘Business owners and managers need to be careful not to show favouritism, as this can be detrimental to the morale of the team.”

Workplace sponsorship drives women’s career success

19 Aug

Most women know that just being good at your job is never enough to win a coveted promotion or the chance to work on a high-profile project. Yet being too self-promoting often doesn’t work either. What it takes to propel women to the heights they deserve is having a good sponsor.

That’s according to Sponsoring Women to Success, a report from Catalyst, an organisation committed to expanding opportunities for women and business. The report says that mentoring can only take you so far; it’s effective sponsorship that accelerates your career. Good sponsors can get you noticed at the highest levels; ensure you’re introduced to the right networks; and can coach you into thinking more strategically so you can make an even more meaningful contribution to the company.

Ilene H. Lang, president and CEO of Catalyst, said: “Good sponsors can supercharge a woman’s career by providing her with access to essential networks, bringing her achievements to the attention of senior-level executives, and recommending her for key assignments. Effective sponsors also provide career coaching and guidance that enable protégés to make broader and more strategic contributions to their organisations.”

However, that sponsorship has to be earned, says the report, by “building reputations as flexible, collegial professionals who are consistently committed to their own career development”.

As well as a flourishing career for the protege, sponsorship can also develop their reputation as a senior leader committed to developing talent; and organisations can help improve employee engagement, attract and retain staff, and strengthen their talent pipeline.

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