A study put out by Kansas State University recently examined the differences between how male and female police officers experience on-the-job stress and burnout. One of the ways that officers most often blow off steam is by sharing war stories. While sharing this stories “they remove the fear and emotion that go along with it and replace it with these superhuman qualities.” When women did that, the stories were considered more suspect or less likely to be real, alienating them from their male peers. Female officers are also more likely to be put into cases that male officers consider to be the most stressful, often involving a trauma to a child. Unfortunately, those cases are generally considered lower level work in the police force. Finally, when looking at the intersection of gender, vocation, and family life, it was considered more acceptable for a male officer to need to leave a family gathering because of work or a call than for a female officer to do the same thing. All this adds up to a pretty rough outlook on female resilience in police forces, but on the other hand, it is considered career and social suicide for a male officer to demonstrate emotion when faced with a traumatizing case or situation. The expectation the females do experience emotion may be one of their saving graces.

I wonder how gender differences in stress management play out in other emotionally and physically challenging career paths, like child protection, social work, fire fighting or medicine. At your place of work, is it more acceptable for one gender to handle stress one way, but not acceptable for the other gender to handle it the same way? What differences or similarities do you notice?

Kansas State University (2009, February 27). Burnout Among Police Officers: Differences In How Male, Female Police Officers Manage Stress May Accentuate Stress On The Job. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/02/090226110651.htm