Gender discrimination in workplace and depressive symptoms in female employees in South Korea

Suyeon Kim, Eunsoo Won, Hyun Ghang Jeong, Moon Soo Lee, Young Hoon Ko, Jong Woo Paik, Changsu Han, Byung Joo Ham, Eunsoo Choi, Kyu Man Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Workplace gender discrimination (WGD) may have long-term negative impacts on female workers' mental health. We aimed to investigate the association between WGD and the prevalence of depressive symptoms using a nationally representative sample of female employees in South Korea. Methods: Data of 3190 adult female employees were obtained from the 2018 nationwide Korean Longitudinal Survey of Women and Families. Women's perception of WGD was assessed using a 6-item questionnaire. Respondents were classified into high, medium, and low levels of WGD according to the 25th and 75th percentile scores. A score of ≥10 on the 10-item version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies for Depression Scale was defined as having significant depressive symptoms. Results: A high level of WGD was significantly associated with a higher odds ratio (OR) for depressive symptoms compared to the low level (OR = 1.87, 95% confidence interval = 1.45–2.41). In the subgroup analyses, high WGD levels were associated with the highest OR for depressive symptoms in the following subgroups: younger age (19–39 years), those with a college degree, non-standard workers, pink collar workers, those with a workplace size of 10–29 employees, those with high levels of job autonomy, or low levels of emotional labor. Limitations: Causal interpretation is limited owing to the study's cross-sectional design. Conclusions: A high level of perceived WGD was associated with depressive symptoms among female employees. Certain groups of female employees may be particularly vulnerable to the detrimental effects of WGD on depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-275
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • Depression
  • Employees
  • Moderator
  • Women
  • Workers
  • Workplace gender discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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