The importance of respect in the workplace is something we don’t often talk about, but it’s so important. It can basically make or break a job. And for women, the issue is often a little more complicated. Research shows sexism at work can actually make women less creative, not to mention cause more than a little stress. But naysayers have often denied the fact that the corporate world isn’t always entirely welcoming to women. Instead, some say, women might simply be less equipped to handle stress. Of course, we know that’s total BS, but it’s always been hard to prove… until now.

coworkers mostly men

A new study out of Indiana University Bloomington found that the climate of a workplace has a lot more to do with women’s stress levels than any inherent inability to handle unwelcoming professional situations. The researchers decided to see what happened when they subjected both men AND women to the stressful, unpleasant situations women often encounter. In particular, they wanted to figure out the effects of “gendered social exclusion,” AKA behavior that excludes members of the opposite sex, like only talking about stereotypically male interests in the break room, for instance. While some may argue that women are more sensitive by nature to social exclusion, the researchers found that that’s just not true.

For the experiment, they brought together two types of groups: One that consisted of one woman and three men, and one that was made up of one man and three women. In both groups, participants of the majority gender were told to talk about things stereotypically related to their gender. Throughout the experiment, the researchers measured levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. They found that stress levels rose in participants, both male and female, who were excluded from conversation and not in others. In other words, regardless of your gender, if you’re working in an environment where you don’t feel welcome or relevant, you’re bound to be at least a little stressed.

The takeaway? “If the workplace climate were less unfriendly, we might see more women in these male-dominated occupations, and we might see more parity [equality] in pay,” says Cate Taylor, who led the study. “That would be good for women and good for families.” AMEN!

Have you ever been excluded in a gendered convo at work? Tweet us about it @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)