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Workplace sexism's effects on women's mental health and job satisfaction

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Credit: Dr. Mark Rubin

A new Journal of Applied Social Psychology study investigates the associations between workplace sexism, sense of belonging at work, mental health, and job satisfaction for women in male-dominated industries.

In the study of 190 women from a large Australian trade union that represented mainly male-dominated jobs, organizational sexism and interpersonal sexism were associated with a poorer sense of belonging in the industry, which was associated with poorer mental health. A poorer sense of belonging also explained the negative effect of organizational sexism on job satisfaction.

The results fit a theoretical model in which workplace sexism reduces sense of belonging because it represents a form of bullying, rejection, and ostracism by men against their female co-workers. This reduced sense of belonging then impacts negatively on women's mental health and job satisfaction due its association with feelings of loneliness and alienation.

"Strategies that integrate women more thoroughly into male-dominated industries and give them a better sense of belonging may help to increase their mental health and job satisfaction" said corresponding author Associated Professor Mark Rubin, of The University of Newcastle, Australia. "However, we also need better strategies to reduce sexism in the workplace if we are to tackle this problem at its root."

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