Working in a Male-Dominated Environment: A Stressor?

New research confirms what we know. Being one of very few women in a “male-dominated” organization or field can be stressful. Researchers found high levels of the stress hormone cortisol (“linked with later negative health outcomes”) in women in this situation. Even in industries where women are well represented, men dominate upper levels of management. It is stressful to walk the tightrope of the “double bind” and work to be heard and seen as competent. So my guess is that this research is applicable to many many women in business.

Obstacles for Women in Business: The Double Bind

One obstacle for women in business reaching the top is the double bind. If men become more aware of this problem, they can lower an obstacle to gender diversity. Business workplaces tend to be more masculine than feminine in nature. To succeed, women learn to adopt a masculine style. But if she is “too” masculine “too often,” she may be penalized. If she operat