News on Wellness

Why High-Pressure Situations Affect Women More than Men

stressed-womanAccording to a recent study at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, it was proven that women become more anxious than men when faced with risky situations. Although stress in men can cause problems, it creates even more issues for women. In addition, Stanford University researchers conducted a study consisting of two experiments designed to analyze the way that high-pressure situations affect anxiety and performance in both genders.

For the first experiment, a group of men and women were asked to read one of four unique workplace scenarios, which contained either high or low pressure information. After the scenario was read, they wrote down the way it would be handled, followed by taking an actual anxiety test. Through this study, researchers discovered that women scored 13.6% higher on the test for high pressure situations over those deemed low pressure. In comparison, test results for the male participants were the same whether dealing with high or low pressure situations.

Researchers continued the study by identifying how “anxiety related to a high-pressure scenario” affected performance. To accomplish this, both male and female participants had to answer 20 SAT verbal questions. To make things harder, participants were told to bet money on each answer given. The outcome – women who chose to bet got 11% fewer questions right compared to those of men.

One additional aspect of the study involved researchers looking over two undergraduate engineering exam scores. For midterm, students were required to state how confident they were in giving each answer, something that positively influenced scores whereas the final exam did not. It was found that grades of women on the midterm were lower than men’s grades by approximately half a letter grade but for the final exam, there was no difference.

Experts believe high-pressure situations are in fact riskier for women. In fact, according to a doctoral candidate at Stanford University who studies sociology, it was noted that when men and women perform on the same level, for some reason performance of women is perceived as being subpar. Rather than happenstance, this is most likely based on incompetence. Unfortunately, failure often reinforces any existing self-doubt. Therefore, it is important for women to build self-esteem before facing high-pressure situations whenever possible, regardless of scenario.

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