Gender and Interpersonal Emotion Management in the Workplace

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:25
Location: Hörsaal 4C KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Melissa SLOAN, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, USA
This research examines gender differences in managing the emotions of coworkers and their consequences for worker well-being.  While an extensive amount of sociological research has examined intrapersonal emotion management, the performance of interpersonal emotion management, or the managing of others’ emotions in the workplace, has been given much less attention.  Building on recent work that illustrates the impact of coworker relations on worker health, we draw on gender frame theory to predict the relationships among gender, interpersonal emotion management, and worker well-being.  Consistent with gendered expectations regarding emotion, we expect that women will engage in interpersonal emotion management at work to a greater extent than men.  Following structural theories of emotion, we expect that workers in lower status positions will perform more interpersonal emotion management than higher status workers.  We also predict that extensive interpersonal emotion management in the workplace will be associated with increased job stress and psychological distress.  Finally, we expect that perceived support from coworkers will moderate this effect.  We test these hypotheses using survey data from a random sample of 1,533 public sector employees in the United States.  We find that women report significantly more interpersonal emotion management than men, net of occupation and job status characteristics.  We also find that, in addition to supporting gendered beliefs about emotion, interpersonal emotion management can have negative consequences, and perceived social support from coworkers does not moderate the negative consequences of interpersonal emotion management.  These results suggest that interpersonal emotion management is a burden placed primarily on women in the workplace.  It is notable that this relationship holds regardless of workplace status characteristics.  The substantial efforts devoted to managing coworkers’ emotions create an increased and hidden workload for women that may exacerbate gender inequalities in the workplace.