A new study now suggests that women who believe they have been victims of sexism may be more likely to be depressed. The study, conducted by University College London saw scientists asking nearly 3,000 women if they had ever been insulted, called names or physically assaulted because of their gender.
The researchers found that those who reported being sexually discriminated against were three times more likely to describe themselves as depressed. The results of the study were published in the journal Health Psychology.
Notably, young, well-educated, wealthy, white participants reported the most discrimination.
According to the team, sexist remarks may make women feel unsafe, which could put them off exercising outdoors, despite its known mental health benefits. They further added that repeated threats may even cause some to turn to 'substances to cope with discriminatory experiences.
Speaking about the study, lead author Dr Ruth Hackett said that they found women who reported perceived sex discrimination to be more likely depressed and have greater psychological distress and poorer mental functioning, life satisfaction and self-rated health.
Dr Hackett further added that sexism may serve as a barrier to healthy lifestyles that promote mental wellbeing. For the study, researchers analysed 2,956 women over the age of 16 who took part in the UK Household Longitudinal Study between 2009 and 2010.
The women were asked if they ever felt unsafe or avoided going out over the fear of sexist remarks. Around 19.5 per cent women claimed to have been discriminated against due to their gender and the incidents most commonly occurred on the street (77 percent), public transport (39.9 per cent), and in or around train and bus stations (38.9 per cent).
The scientists came to the conclusion that of the women who reported sexual discrimination, 93.9 per cent claimed to feel unsafe. Furthermore, 38.1 per cent avoided going somewhere as a result of this prejudice, while 18.1 per cent were insulted by the sexist remarks they endured.
On being asked about their mental health, the women who felt they had experienced sexism reported being worse off. According to study authors, the results are particularly concerning in suggesting an enduring impact of experiences of sex discrimination on mental health and wellbeing in women.