Harmful Workplace Experiences and Women’s Occupational Well-being: A Meta-Analysis

We report a meta-analytic review of studies examining the relations among harmful workplace experiences and women’s occupational well-being.

Based on previous research, a classification of harmful workplace experiences affecting women is proposed and then used in the analysis of 88 studies with 93 independent samples, containing 73,877 working women. We compare the associations of different harmful workplace experiences and job stressors with women’s work attitudes and health. Random effects meta-analysis and path analysis showed that more intense yet less frequent harmful experiences (e.g., sexual coercion, unwanted sexual attention) and less intense but more frequent harmful experiences (e.g., sexist organizational climate, gender harassment) had similar negative effects on women’s well-being. Harmful workplace experiences were independent from and as negative as job stressors in their impact on women’s occupational well-being. The power imbalance between the target and the perpetrator appeared as a potential factor to explain the type and impact of harmful workplace experiences affecting women’s occupational well-being. In the discussion, we identify several gaps in the literature, suggest directions for future research, and suggest organizational policy changes and interventions that could be effective at reducing the incidence of harmful workplace experiences.

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