Employee Burnout: Is It the Same for Men and Women?

Topic(s): burnout, gender, stress, wellness
Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior 
Article: Gender Differences in Burnout: A meta-analysis
Authors: R.K. Purvanova; J.P. Muros
Reviewed by: Mary Alice Crowe-Taylor

In a recent meta-analysis (statistical combination of existing research) that includes the results of 183 studies, burnout appears to be an equal opportunity downer for men and women, although sometimes it effects them in different ways. For example, when it comes to depersonalization, 57% of men and 43% of women report feeling the need to shut-off and withdraw when stressed at work. In terms of experiencing emotional exhaustion, women are slightly more likely to exhibit it – 54% of women compared to 46% of men.


Why, then, do you hear the rumor that women experience burnout more often? The problem is that depersonalization is often not recognized. Many of the measures of burnout tap only emotional exhaustion and therefore, identify burnout among women more. Men experiencing depersonalization may fly under the radar and not be described as “burnt out.” Due to this, companies may not see the need to assist men with burnout, and the myth that burnout is a female experience is perpetuated. When organizations fail to address burnout, it can lead to a plethora of costly effects, including decreases in job performance, satisfaction, commitment, health and, ultimately, an increase in turnover. These outcomes can be avoided if organizations provide resources for both male and female employees, such as more respite time, flexible work scheduling, better healthcare, and childcare.


Given the significant links between burnout and key organizational outcomes like employee performance, turnover, and overall organizational achievement, assessing and addressing both components of burnout (depersonalization and emotional exhaustion) is essential. Providing both male and female employees with resources to stave off burnout is key.


Purvanova, R. K., & Muros, J. P. (2010). Gender differences in burnout: A meta-analysis. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 77(2), 168–185.