Stress and workload of men and women in high-ranking positions

J Occup Health Psychol. 1999 Apr;4(2):142-51. doi: 10.1037//1076-8998.4.2.142.


Psychological and physiological stress responses related to work and family were investigated in 21 female and 21 male managers and professional specialists in high-ranking positions. The main result was that both women and men experienced their jobs as challenging and stimulating, although almost all data indicated a more favorable situation for men than for women. In addition, women were more stressed by their greater unpaid workload and by a greater responsibility for duties related to home and family. Women had higher norepinephrine levels than men did, both during and after work, which reflected their greater workload. Women with children at home had significantly higher norepinephrine levels after work than did the other participants. The possible long-term health consequences of women's higher stress levels are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology
  • Administrative Personnel / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / urine
  • Leadership
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norepinephrine / blood*
  • Norepinephrine / urine
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology*
  • Power, Psychological
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Women's Health
  • Workload / psychology*


  • Hydrocortisone
  • Norepinephrine