Gender differences in burnout among municipal police sergeants
McCarty, William P.
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to compare the levels and predictors of burnout between female and male sergeants in a large municipal law enforcement agency. Design/methodology/approach – This study used surveys of 171 female and 737 male sergeants. In the survey they described their extent of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, and reported on other issues that affect burnout. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to compare the levels and predictors of these chronic stress reactions. Findings – Female sergeants expressed higher levels of emotional exhaustion and lower levels of depersonalization than male sergeants. Also, the burnout process is largely consistent between female and male sergeants, driven by similar factors, including feelings of work-life conflict and relations with peers and supervisors. Research limitations/implications – The survey was fielded in one organization, which may or may not be representative of other agencies. Future studies of different organizations are needed to test external validity and refine the theoretical model. Practical implications – The results indicate the importance of studying the different components of burnout as well as allocating organizational resources to mitigating these conditions. Programs focussed on mentoring female sergeants or younger sergeants would be beneficial. Originality/value – Prior research has not examined how the burnout experiences of female sergeants differ from or resemble their male counterparts as typically their numbers are too small to conduct a reliable test of differences and predictors. By focussing on a single large department, this obstacle can be overcome, while controlling for other variables.