• Tue, Nov 13 2012

Female Executives Are Breaking Ceilings, But Their Health Is Not A Priority

It is hard to go to Pilates when you are trying to be super woman. According to new data collected by Macleans, women at the top of their fields are putting their health at risk. They are more prone to the high level of stress-related illnesses of executives and CEOs but unlike their male colleagues, women, for the most part, have more stress at home.

Upper-income women are now prime candidates for stress-related diseases, according to the British government’s new Health and Safety Statistics Report. It found far higher rates of work-related stress for women than men, higher rates for middle-aged workers (ages 35 to 54), and the highest rates in managerial and professional jobs for both genders.

Plus, even when they are sick, female executives don’t take care of themselves. According to a new survey, the percentage of male CFOs visiting doctors was much higher than female CFOs. The survey found that in October, out of 393 corporate CFOs, 77% had visited their doctor in the past year but clearly it was mostly men. “Stress is clearly an occupational hazard for CFOs and perhaps their employers need to be more cognizant of that,” said Lachlan Colquhoun, Head of Markets Analysis for East & Partners, which conducted the survey.

Physician Elaine Chin told Macleans, “Executive women don’t look after themselves,” she says. Chin, who used to work in a general practice in a low-income area, witnessed a gender reversal when she began working at a private clinic geared to upper-income executives. In her old practice, female patients were more diligent about their health than men. Now she says: “Women cancel appointments and diagnostic tests all the time.”

Last week we wrote about a study that said younger employees were much more likely to call in sick because of stress than their older colleagues. Women at the executive level fall right in line with this. But Chin points out this is problematic as most women reaching that level are entering perimenopause or menopause which are dangerous health years.

Plus working 12 hour days and sitting for the majority of them doesn’t exactly help your health.  

Cathy Preston, who operates a Toronto-based executive-search firm, told Macleans she’s increasingly running into high-earning women who are pre-diabetic or on blood-pressure medicine, conditions traditionally associated with low incomes.

One personal trainer told Macleans that women were more likely to cancel workout sessions than men. The trainer cited women feeling like they had more to do at home unlike men who know things are taken care of when they leave.

Photo: Deklofenak/Shutterstock.com

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