Awkward work postures: association with occupational gender segregation

Am J Ind Med. 2005 May;47(5):381-93. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20166.


Background: Segregation of men and women into different jobs is often cited as one of the most plausible explanations for gender differences in exposure and musculoskeletal disorders.

Methods: Direct measurements of sitting, arm, and trunk postures were taken with two different technical instruments on 156 subjects (78 matched pairs of one female and one male worker) over one full workday in diverse labor markets.

Results: Exposure differences between workers were strongly associated with vertical occupational segregation (measured as level of status/authority). The results showed that this association was strongest for female-dominated jobs. Workers in female-dominated jobs with a low status/authority experienced longer duration in standing posture (P = 0.001), and higher frequency of arm elevation (P = 0.028 and 0.040 for the dominant and the non-dominant arm, respectively). They also had longer duration of work with bent trunk compared to corresponding workers with high status/authority (P = 0.035). The association was less pronounced for male-dominated jobs, and no such association was found for gender-integrated jobs.

Conclusion: The findings have implications for prevention as well as for future research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupations / classification*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Prejudice*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Sex Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Task Performance and Analysis