Gender equality is an important goal the world should be working towards. However, a study has found that a gradual transition towards this goal in certain work places could damage the health of the women involved.
A study by researchers at Indiana University Bloomington looked into the cortisol level patterns of women working in a minimum 85% male workplace.
The large survey looked at 440 women who worked in this gender ratio in the USA, and covered a lot of professions, including construction, painting and grounds-keeping.
Low levels of workplace support, social isolation and sexual harassment have all been cited in the past as being reasons why women would have higher stress levels in a male dominated workplace. The researchers hypothesised that the long term high levels of stress these factors could cause in women would affect their natural cortisol levels.
Comparing the levels of the stress hormone in these 440 women to women who work in a more gender balanced environment uncovered differences between the two groups.
Getting a balance and providing equal opportunities in all jobs is very important, and so is the health of people. Increasing the amount of women in workplaces gradually could be, according to this report, putting the health of women at risk.
This means that either populations of females within male dominated workplaces need to be boosted and progressed much more quickly than is currently happening, and if not (and even if so) then women need to be supported across the country and protected from and taught to manage stress levels effectively.