Why Women Cry on the Job

ByABC News via via logo

Oct. 14, 2005 — -- Women crying on the job is a common stereotype. It's generally frowned upon, even though biology may be to blame.

"It's not surprising maybe that women cry more often than men," said Dr. William Frey II, director of the Alzheimer's Research Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul and the author of "Crying: The Mystery of Tears." "Because as we develop, the hormone differences between the sexes result in the tear glands developing differently, and when we look under the microscope we can see that these cells are different."

Those physical differences mean that while men's eyes are more likely to well up with emotion -- 70 percent of women's tears are likely to roll down the cheeks -- making a sensitive more obvious.

Still, female bosses say crying in the office contributes to the "glass ceiling."

"I've actually seen women cry underneath me and I know for a fact that it has influenced the way that I felt about them, whether or not they're going to be up for a promotion or a different job," said Renee Palmer, an operations manager. "To me, it tells me whether they can handle the stress of the position."

Frey said manages and colleagues should be understanding of women who cry at the workplace.

"We have to realize that the workplace is an environment of human interaction," he said. "Naturally things will come up that will be upsetting."

Belisa Vranich, a psychologist and editor at Men's Fitness magazine, said women should try to control themselves.

"If you shed a tear, you're human, they'll forgive you," she said. "But do not make it a habit of it."

Women who tend to cry can practice not crying, Vranich said.

"You can talk yourself down. Part of it is practicing," she said."Get to the point where you're going to cry and talk yourself down."

But if a situation strikes, and you can't keep yourself from crying, be discrete.

"If all else fails, put on a pair of dark sunglasses and take a walk," Vranich said.

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