The proportion of male and female professionals in the field of psychology continues to divide (Lin et al., 2018). In 2016, individuals identifying as female made up approximately 65% of active psychologists (Lin et al., 2018). However, despite a majority of women in psychology, gender gaps in career advancements, including publications and promotions, and differences in salaries still exist (Gruber et al., 2020). Additionally, the binary classification of gender continues to overshadow professionals and clients within the field, limiting knowledge of, and creating disparity for, the experiences of gender minorities. Despite knowing that disparities exist within our field for both women and individuals who identify as gender minorities, the discipline continues to fail to provide services to emotionally support our professionals.
Compassion fatigue. Burnout. Emotional exhaustion. The expression of these stress- related factors may have gender-based differences that contribute to their ability for identification (Templeton et al., 2019). For example, women report experiencing more emotional exhaustion, whereas men report higher levels of depersonalization (Templeton et al., 2019). However, females have demonstrated higher levels in one, or all of, these stress-related factors, both within the field of psychology (Rossi et al., 2012; Sprang et al., 2007; Thompson et al., 2014), and independently (Canazei et al., 2018; Purvanova & Muros, 2010; Redondo-Florez et al., 2020). Burnout has been found to have both gendered components through both environmental and individual pathways, such as work-to-family conflict and personality, respectively (Beauregard et al., 2018). However, there is a significant gap in the previous research to include individuals outside of the binary gender classifications (Suen et al., 2020). In the limited research available, mental health practitioners who identified as sexual minorities demonstrated higher levels of burnout than their heterosexual peers due to factors such as perceptions of workplace support, workplace discrimination, and identity concealment (Viehl et al., 2017). These factors may be applicable to individuals who identify as gender minorities as well. The necessity to expand research of those who identify as gender minorities is not only for those we treat, but for our very own colleagues.
I have witnessed the toll these factors can take, ranging from fellow students with incomplete internship placements or taking time off of school to the negative impact on our clients. However, these stress-related factors are normalized from the very beginning of our careers. We are taught clinical and assessment hours, publications, and teaching experiences are necessary to be competitive for internship, post-doctoral positions, job prospects. If we don’t push ourselves, our goals won’t be reached. I recognize that my experience is only one of over 60,000 women in the field of psychology (Lin et al., 2018) and as a woman, I cannot speak to how, or if, my experience navigating these processes would have been any different if I were a man or gender minority. If I would have received more, or less, support.
We must begin to prioritize our own well-being as much as we do the outcomes of our clients. We must expand our inclusivity for career opportunities and research. We must advocate for our supervisees, our peers, our mentors. We must become resources for each other. Being fatigued, burned out, exhausted, we must not shut ourselves out, but turn in to each other. We must become the support that we so clearly need and currently lack.
As a field, we preach self-care and self-compassion. However, we know disparities exist for our female and gender minority peers, not only on a professional or financial level, but an emotional one as well. Women are being overlooked, and gender minorities are being overshadowed. How can we expect to succeed as a field if we are not taking care of our own?
Beauregard, N., Marchand, A., Bilodeau, J., Durand, P., Demers, A., & Haines, V. Y. (2018). Gendered pathways to burnout: Results from the SALVEO study. Annals of Work Exposures and Health, 62(4), 426–437. https://doi.org/10.1093/annweh/wxx114
Canazei, M., Bassa, D., Jimenez, P., Bühner, M., Fink, A., Baurenhofer, K., Luttenberger, S., Paechter, M., Hartmann, H., Harold, B., Stix, P., Papousek, I., & Weiss, E. (2018). Gender differences in different dimensions of common burnout symptoms in a group of clinical burnout patients. Neuropsychiatry, 8(6), 1967–1976.
Gruber, J., Mendle, J., Lindquist, K. A., Schmader, T., Clark, L. A., Bliss-Moreau, E., Akinola, M., Atlas, L., Barch, D. M., Feldman Barrett, L., Campos, B., Cantlon, J., Carter, R., Carter-Sowell, A. R., Chen, S., Craske, M. G., Cuddy, A. J. C., Crum, A., Davachi, L., Duckworth, A. L., … Williams, L. A. (2020). The future of women in psychological science. Perspectives on Psychological Science. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691620952789
Lin, L., Stamm, K., & Christidis, P. (2018). Demographics of the U.S. psychology workforce: Findings from the 2007-16 American Community Survey. American Psychological Association.
Purvanova, R. K., & Muros, J. P. (2010). Gender differences in burnout: A meta-analysis. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 77(2), 168–185. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2010.04.006
Redondo-Flórez, L., Tornero-Aguilera, J. F., Ramos-Campo, D. J., & Clemente-Suárez, V. J. (2020). Gender differences in stress- and burnout-related factors of university professors. BioMed Research International, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/6687358
Rossi, A., Cetrano, G., Pertile, R., Rabbi, L., Donisi, V., Grigoletti, L., Curtolo, C., Tansella, M., Thornicroft, G., & Amaddeo, F. (2012). Burnout, compassion fatigue, and compassion satisfaction among staff in community-based mental health services. Psychiatry Research, 200(2–3), 933–938. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2012.07.029
Sprang, G., Clark, J. J., & Whitt-Woosley, A. (2007). Compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, and burnout: Factors impacting a professional’s quality of life. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 12(3), 259–280. https://doi.org/10.1080/15325020701238093
Suen, L. W., Lunn, M. R., Katuzny, K., Finn, S., Duncan, L., Sevelius, J., Flentje, A., Capriotti, M. R., Lubensky, M. E., Hunt, C., Weber, S., Bibbins-Domingo, K., & Obedin-Maliver, J. (2020). What sexual and gender minority people want researchers to know about sexual orientation and gender identity questions: A qualitative study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 49(7), 2301–2318. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01810-y
Templeton, K., Bernstein, C., Sukhera, J., Nora, L. M., Newman, C., Burstin, D., Guille, C., Lynn, L., Schwarze, M. L., Sen, S., & Busis, N. 2019. Gender-based differences in burnout: Issues faced by women physicians. NAM Perspectives. Discussion Paper, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC. https://doi.org/10.31478/201905a
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Name: Naomi Uyeda
Location: Palo Alto, California
Education: BS, psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
MS, clinical psychology, Palo Alto University
Current position(s)/affiliation(s): Doctoral candidate, Palo Alto University
Clinician, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services at San Mateo, California