Researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health found that women who had the same education and experience as their male counterparts yet earned less were at a “markedly greater” risk of the two mental illnesses.
Overall, women are almost twice as likely to suffer from depression or anxiety than men.
However, among women in the same role with similar experience and education as men, the odds of depression were 2.5 times higher than males.
Furthermore, women who were victim to the wage gap were four times more likely to suffer from anxiety, according to the research – which examined 22,581 working adults in the US aged 30-65 – published in Social Science & Medicine.
Jonathan Platt, a PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology and first author of the paper, said: “Our results show that some of the gender disparities in depression and anxiety may be due to the effects of structural gender inequality in the workforce and beyond.
“The social processes that sort women into certain jobs, compensate them less than equivalent male counterparts, and create gender disparities in domestic labour have material and psychosocial consequences.
“If women internalise these negative experiences as reflective of inferior merit, rather than the result of discrimination, they may be at increased risk for depression and anxiety disorders.”
Katherine Keyes, assistant professor of Epidemiology and senior author, added: “Our findings suggest that policies must go beyond prohibiting overt gender discrimination like sexual harassment.
“Further, while it is commonly believed that gender differences in depression and anxiety are biologically rooted, these results suggest that such differences are much more socially constructed that previously thought, indicating that gender disparities in psychiatric disorders are malleable and arise from unfair treatment.”
This article first appeared on ‘The Express’ on 5 January 2015.