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Open Access Research article

Associations between employee and manager gender: impacts on gender-specific risk of acute occupational injury in metal manufacturing

Jessica T Kubo1*, Mark R Cullen2, Manisha Desai1 and Sepideh Modrek2

Author Affiliations

1 Quantitative Sciences Unit, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA

2 Division of General Medical Disciplines, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1053  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1053

Published: 8 November 2013

Abstract

Background

Prior research has shown increased risk of injury for female employees compared to male employees after controlling for job and tasks, but have not explored whether this increased risk might be moderated by manager gender. The gender of one’s manager could in theory affect injury rates among male and female employees through their managers’ response to an employee’s psychosocial stress or through how employees differentially report injuries. Other explanations for the gender disparity in injury experience, such as ergonomic factors or differential training, are unlikely to be impacted by supervisor gender. This study seeks to explore whether an employee’s manager’s gender modifies the effect of employee gender with regards to risk of acute injury.

Methods

A cohort of employees and managers were identified using human resources and injury management data between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2007 for six facilities of a large US aluminum manufacturing company. Cox proportional hazards models were employed to examine the interaction between employee gender and whether the employee had female only manager(s), male only manager(s), or both male and female managers on injury risk. Manager gender category was included as a time varying covariate and reassessed for each employee at the midpoint of each year.

Results

The percentage of departments with both female and male managers increased dramatically during the study period due to corporate efforts to increase female representation in management. After adjustment for fixed effects at the facility level and shared frailty by department, manager gender category does not appear to moderate the effect of employee gender (p = 0.717). Manager category was not a significant predictor (p = 0.093) of time to first acute injury. Similarly, having at least one female manager did not modify the hazard of injury for female employees compared to males (p = 0.899) and was not a significant predictor of time to first acute injury (p = 0.601).

Conclusions

Prior findings suggest that female manufacturing employees are at higher risk for acute injury compared to males; this analysis suggests that this relationship is not affected by the gender of the employee’s manager(s).

Keywords:
Injury; Management; Sex; Gender concordance; Occupational health