Constructions of work stress and coping in a female- and a male-dominated department.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the present study the nature of stress and coping was investigated and considered as socially constructed. Thirty small group interviews were performed using the Critical Incident Technique in one female- and one male-dominated customer service department of a telecom company. The main themes about stress among both women and men were often expressed as collective phenomena and were connected to the organizational change and downsizing process, problems when carrying out the work and lack of autonomy. However, a striking difference between female and male interviews was found in the way that women to a greater extent expressed lack of autonomy and their working situation was described as strictly regulated. The findings illustrate that a traditional gender difference regarding autonomy could be found when comparing a female- and a male-dominated department even though they were performing the same type of job. Both women and men portrayed coping as a mixture of collective and individual strategies. They often mentioned collective acceptance, resignation and hardening. There is a need for further research about women and men at work, taking into consideration the interpersonal context and the collective nature of stress and coping.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology


  • coping, gender, social constructions, stress
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-270
JournalScandinavian Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch