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EWHNET. The European Women's Health Network (EWHNET) was founded in 1997 as a project in the Medium-Term Community Action Programme on Equal . Opportunities for Women and Men and was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Seniors, Women

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The European Women's

Health Network (EWHNET)

was founded in 1997

as a project in the


Community Action

Programme on Equal

Opportunities for

Women and Men

and was supported

by the German Federal

Ministry for Family

Affairs, Seniors, Women

and Youth.


Gender Sensitivity in Occupational

Health: as an Issue for

Life Quality and Work Efficiency


Gender sensitivity in

occupational health: as an issue

for life quality and work efficiency

Working Group on Occupational

Health of the European

Women’s Health Network (EWHNET)


Gender-sensible Strategies in Occupational Health


Equal Opportunities


Why gender sensitivity

in occupational health?


Why gender sensitivity

in occupational health?

To accomplish equity

in the field of work and health

Women make up 42% of the EU work force

Occupational gender segregation is strong

To identify gender-specific health risks at work

Men and woman are exposed to different workplace environ-ments and different

types of demands and strains

To develop appropriate

methods, tools, procedures and

strategies to deal with gender-

specific health risks at work


Example: Noise as a health risk

Noise is seen as a predominantly male

occupational health risk. A gender-sensitive

approach reveals another image:




Technical work


Schools (lower grades),

kindergarten, day care centers


Mechanical noise

Clamour from shouting,

crying and loud voices

Health risk:

Hearing impairment,

stress, accidents or


Stress, fatigue, concentration

and related disorders

The vocal cords can be damaged

from having to raise one’s voice



Further examples of gender-specific health risks at work

Job Profiles


client-oriented jobs.

Health risk: being exposed

to aggression, violence and

sexual harassment leading

to psychosocial complaints

Men in technical and

manual work.

Health risk: exposure to traditional physical

risk factors such as

chemicals, noise,

radiation, and heat

Women in the care sector.

Health risk: ergonomically

poor working conditions,

resulting in musculoskeletal disorders


Further examples of gender-specific health risks at work

Working Hours

Violence and Danger

Health risk: psychosocial

disorders such as fatigue,

headache and stress

Women: part-time jobs,

having to adapt working

hours to family needs.

Health risk: poor control,

low status, which are

psychosocial risk factors

for stress and

cardiovascular diseases

Women: sexual harassment.

Health risk: injuries, psychosocial


Men: physical danger

(accidents, aggression).

Men: full-time jobs,

less satisfaction with

work-home balance

Health risk: psychosocial

problems and stress


3rd European Survey on Gender and Working Conditions, 2000


Further examples of gender-specific health risks at work

Women’s occupational

settings have multiple

stressors, when

considered together they contribute to high levels of stress and illness

responsibility to the well-being of others

responsibility to multiple supervisors

unpredictable schedules

lack of social support

sex discrimination, unfair treatment

low remuneration


What is gender-sensitive

occupational health?


What is gender-sensitive

occupational health?

A Gender-sensitive Approach

in Occupational Health

Takes into consideration the

need for gender equality as

well as the need to protect

both female and male workers

Takes into account the diversity

concerning generation, ethnicity,

culture, life-style, sexual orientation,

and socio-economic status

Acknowledges that certain

health problems are unique

to or have more serious

implications for either women

or men

Breaks through stereotype images

of femininity and masculinity

Gives equal weight to knowledge,

values and experiences of both

women and men

Takes into account the

differences in social position

between men and women and

their health consequences

Recognizes the need for full

participation of women and men in risk

assessment and priority setting


What is gender-sensitive

occupational health?

Gender bias needs to be analysed and documented. It can occur in the official organisation or unofficially at the interpersonal level; it can be hidden (covert) or expressed openly (overt).


What is gender-sensitive

occupational health?

Positive Images of

Female Workers

Negative Stereotypes

of Female Workers

A working mother is a strong survivor and problem-solver;

she is a good investment

Low career expectations, evadingresponsibility

Complaining and dissatisfaction

A double burden may bring double joy; a positive way of combining different spheres of life can also benefit work life

Low work motivation, women quarrel,can’t work as a team

Working for pin money only; in reality work is a must for most

45+ the second “forties” career,a new beginning, new enthusiasm;age management is worthwhile

Working on the family’s terms, not committed fully to work

Caring for and connecting people

The combination work-home as a double burden


Aims of Gender Sensitivity

in Occupational Health


Aims of gender sensitivityin occupational health:

To improve the effectiveness of theoccupational health care system

To improve the quality of work lifefor both women and men

To promote well-being and work satisfaction

To improve the balance between work and private life for all employees

To recognize the diversity of women’s and men’s health needs over the life-cycle

To recognize the importance of the study of gender differences inscreening, diagnosis and management of health conditions

To improve the work ability of bothmen and women

To use a gender-specific approach when needed

To reduce work-related health risks and complaints of women and men

To compile more systematic descriptions of sex similarities and differentials in health risks, exposures and health consequences

To emphasize the global view andsignificance of multiple exposures,both physical and psychological


Aims of gender sensitivityin occupational health:

Gender Sensitivity in Occupational Health Needs

Multidisciplinary approach

Gender based research

Gender-specific health monitoring

Equal participation of women and men, both have to be heard out

Training in gender-based analysis

Pointing out the special health risks of female-dominated jobs and stressing their importance in occupational health care

Gendered guidelines


Gender mainstreaming in occupational health policies

These posters reflect part of the results of an international workshop 'Trends in Women and Work, Opportunities for Occupational Health' organised by the EWHNET Working Group on Occupational Health, October 2000.Information about the Working Group, contact: Dr. Kaisa Kauppinen, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), Finland.

EWHNET, contact: Ute Sonntag, Email: