Investigation of gender stereotyping, stress, and coping strategies for women and men in female- and male-dominated occupations



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The role of women is radically changing. Today, some women are entering male-dominated occupations. However, success and survival are not always easy for these women due to unique occupational stressors, such as negative gender stereotyping (Spence & Hahn, 1997: Glick & Fiske, 1997), gender saliency (Spangler, Gordon, & Pipkin, 1978; Davidson & Cooper, 1984), and gender overcompensation (Williams, 1989). Stress is currently perceived as the common cold of psychopathology because it can lead to depression, anxiety, mood disorders and other psychosomatic symptoms. The first purpose of the current study was to investigate the differences of gender stereotyping and stress for women and men in female- and male-dominated occupations. Second, the study examined which coping strategies women and men used when coping with a work-related stressful encounter. There were 103 participants who were presented with a work-related vignette of a stressful nature. They were asked how they would cope with the situation by using the Ways of Coping Questionnaire (Folkman, Lazarus, Dunkel-Schetter, DeLongis, & Gruen, 1986), as well as by writing in one to two paragraphs their coping strategy. Subsequently, participants completed a stress scale, Symptom Check List-90-R (Derogatis, 1977), Attitudes Toward Women Scale (Helmreich, Spence & Stapp, 1973), and a demographic questionnaire. From MANCOVA analyses which examined the differences between women and men, and the type of occupation (female- or male-dominated occupation), it was determined that there were significant differences between women and men on the coping strategies used. Other differences were not statistically significant.