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Occupational Stress and Burnout Between Male and Female Police Officers: Are There Any Gender Differences?

NCJ Number
Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management Volume: 30 Issue: 4 Dated: 2007 Pages: 672-691
William P. McCarty; Brett E. Garland; Jihong Zhao
Date Published
20 pages
This study explored the differences that influence occupational stress and burnout for male and female police officers.
The findings indicate that although slight differences were found in the measures of work-related stress and burnout across gender, the levels of work-related stress and burnout reported by female officers were not significantly different than those reported by male officers. Given that female officers may face a more stressful organization environment, levels of stress and burnout reported by male and female officers are often similar. Multiple gender differences in the predictors of work-related stress and burnout among law enforcement officers were detected. The ethnicity variable was significant in the female officer burnout model indicating that African-American female officers reported higher levels of burnout than their White female counterparts. The ethnicity variable was not a significant predictor of burnout among the sample of male officers. Negative exposure variables were a significant predictor of burnout among female officers, but it was not a significant predictor of work-related stress among female officers. Making violent arrests, attending a police funeral, or the possibility of shooting someone may have a more profound and long-lasting effect on female officers, creating a sense of burnout, as opposed to a short-term effect, as measured by the work-related stress variable. While differences were detected between the predictors of male and female officer work-related stress, similarities also existed. Destructive coping mechanisms and perceptions of unfairness were the most important predictors of work-related stress for both male and female officers. Work-related stress was the most important predictor of burnout for both male and female officers. Programs and policies should seek to provide interventions that prevent stress and burnout among police officers, especially among minority female officers who have the lowest overall average rating on the camaraderie variable. Data were collected from a sample of police officers working in a large metropolitan department. Limitations and suggestions for future research are detailed. Tables, references, appendix