Research

Longer days more stressful for women than men

28 Mar 2019 By Lauren R Brown

Women who work more than 55 hours a week are more likely to have depressive symptoms, according to a study

Working long hours in the office does not have the same impact on all employees, research by University College London (UCL) has found, with women more likely to become stressed than their male colleagues.

According to the findings, gathered in collaboration with Queen Mary University, women who work more than 55 hours a week are at a higher risk of depression than men. 

The survey of 20,000 UK workers found women who worked ‘extra long’ hours had 7.3 per cent more depressive symptoms than women working a standard 35-40 hour week. Weekend working was, however, linked to a higher risk of depression among both sexes. 

Gill Weston, PhD candidate at UCL’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care and lead author of the study, said: “This is an observational study, so although we cannot establish the exact causes, we do know many women face the additional burden of doing a larger share of domestic labour than men, leading to extensive total work hours, added time pressures and responsibilities.” 

According to 2014 NHS Digital research, in England, women were more likely than men to have a common mental health problem such as depression. Weston acknowledged additional factors which could have contributed to the result, adding that “workers with the most depressive symptoms were older, on lower incomes, smokers, in physically demanding jobs and were dissatisfied at work.”

Researchers hoped the findings would encourage employers and policymakers to increase support for women in the workplace without restricting their ability to work “when they wish to”.

“More sympathetic working practices could bring benefits both for workers and for employers of both sexes,” Weston added.

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