University Study Find a Huge Gender Gap in Stress Levels for Forensic Scientists

Women far outnumber men in undergraduate and graduate programs in forensic science, a field where job opportunities are expected to increase by 27 percent by 2024. Forensic scientists aid criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing physical evidence.

Michigan-State-Wallpaper-1024x640But a new study led Thomas J. Holt, a professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University, finds that women who worked in forensic science are almost twice as likely to report high levels of stress than their male counterparts. The study found that 78 percent of all forensic scientists reported mid to high levels of stress with women nearly twice as likely as men to report high stress levels. Long work weeks coupled with family obligations may contribute to higher levels of stress among women in the field. Minimizing overtime may help eliminate the higher degree of stress reported by women.

Professor Holt states that “it’s not clear why female scientists reported more stress than males though it may stem from differences in the experiences of female scientists who are not sworn law-enforcement officers working in a quasi-military structure where more males are sworn officers, particularly in supervisory roles.”

The study, “Examining the Impact of Organizational and Individual Characteristics on Forensic Scientists’ Job Stress and Satisfaction,” was published on the website of the Journal of Crime and Justice. It may be accessed here.

Co-authors of the study are Ruth Waddell Smith, associate professor of forensic chemistry at Michigan State University, and Kristie Blevins, associate professor of criminal justice at Eastern Kentucky University.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


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