Banking on good health? Gender differences in minor morbidity amongst men and women working full-time in a British bank.
Aims. Many studies which find significant differences in minor morbidity
between men and women have not taken account of the gendered distribution
of social roles. Nor have they considered the gendered segregation of the
labour market; men and women typically work different hours in different
occupations which involve varying conditions. This study attempts to fill this
gap in the literature by comparing the health of men and women working fulltime
for one organization (a British Bank). It addresses three main questions:
" are there gender differences in minor morbidity after controlling for
occupational participation and occupational grade in this relatively
" how important is gender in accounting for minor morbidity compared to
other independent variables?
" are the relationships between predictors and health outcomes similar for
men and women?
Method. A postal questionnaire was distributed to men and women working
full-time in clerical, supervisory and management grades in a large British
bank. Completed questions were received from 76% of the sample (N=2200).
Results. First, women reported a significantly higher number of common
symptoms, malaise symptoms, doctor visits and sick days than men, and were
more likely to rate their health as fair or poor. However, there were no
significant gender differences in the number of reported physical symptoms,
nor in minor psychological morbidity as measured by the GHQ.. Secondly,
perceived working conditions explained a much larger proportion of variance
in the sample than gender. Finally, relationships between predictors and
health outcomes were generally very similar for men and women.
This study demonstrates the utility of exploring gender differences in minor
morbidity using social role theory (by controlling for participation in paid
employment and attitudes toward this role) while also taking account of social
class (by controlling for occupation and occupational grade).