Women more stressed by work intrusions

March 9, 2011

Between our Blackberries, iPhones and laptops, we all know the line between work and home life has gotten pretty blurred. But are those intrusions by work into our supposed downtime bad for us? A new study suggests it is, particularly for women.

Paul Glavin of the University of Toronto and colleagues analyzed data collected from 1,042 American working adults in 2005 by the Work, Stress and Health Survey. In a paper published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, the researchers found that women who were contacted frequently at home by supervisors, co-workers or clients reported higher levels of psychological distress. Men were less affected, the researchers found.

Moreover, when the researchers looked more closely at the data, they discovered that the reason for the gender difference was not that the contact interfered more with their family responsibilities than it did for men, as researchers had anticipated. Women were just as good as men at juggling their work and family lives.

Instead, the difference appeared to be how women felt about being contacted--they were much more likely than men to feel guilty about dealing with work issues at home, even when it didn’t interfere with their family lives, the researchers found.

“Our results demonstrate that guilt medicates the impact of work contact on distress for women,” the researchers wrote. “To our knowledge, ours is the first study of a broad cross-section of American workers to document the role of guilt in these processes.”

What do you think? Does work intrude too much on your family life? Do you feel guilty when it does?

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