Burnout; Gender Role Ideology; Feminine Traits
To date research on how traditional feminine traits and gender role ideology may impact burnout and health behaviors in women is limited. This paper examines how the aforementioned may be associated with higher burnout rates in a community-based cohort of middle-aged women (40-65 years). This study focuses on western traditional feminine traits and gender role ideology, which describe an individual's attitude regarding their assigned role in society and the strength of association with their role. Women who report a stronger connection to more traditional traits or ideology were expected to report higher rates of burnout.
This study also assesses whether burnout is associated with engagement in specific health behaviors. The study utilizes survey data from the 2018 Online Midlife Women’s Data Collection survey to examine these factors. Traditional gender ideology was assessed using the Passive Acceptance subscale of the Feminist Identity Development Scale. Feminine traits were assessed using the Bem Sex Role Inventory. Health behaviors included intuitive eating, frequency of cigarette smoking, exercise frequency, and the average weekly number of alcoholic beverages consumed. Burnout is assessed using the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory.
Findings indicate that traditional gender ideology was not associated with burnout, while feminine traits (e.g., compassionate, sympathetic) were negatively associated with both personal and work-related burnout. In addition, higher levels of burnout were associated with decreased intuitive eating. Higher levels of burnout and a strong endorsement of traditional gender roles were also associated with less frequent exercise. The frequency of cigarette smoking and number of alcoholic beverages consumed are not associated with any of the predictors assessed.
This study is significant in building a stronger understanding of what may cause women to engage or disengage in specific health behaviors. The information gained may be used in future health promotion programs to enhance the lives of middle age women.