Having It All - Women & Stress

Kids, career, friends, family, and loads of stress: how women’s collective work-life fatigue is holding them back.

Rediscover Emotional StabilityA recent CDC study, found that 16 percent of women ages 18 to 44 reported feeling “very tired,” “exhausted,” or otherwise worn out most days, compared with 9 percent of men in the same age range. Is it because women are taking on more than their share? Or because they have difficulty saying no?

The answer, probably, is both.

We know that a historically high number of women are now the primary breadwinners for their households. The Pew Research Center reqports that among families with kids under age 18, 37 percent of wives earn more than their husbands, up from 11 percent in 1960. At the same time, although women are contributing to the family pot more significantly than ever before, their domestic responsibilities are not shrinking; studies show, for example, that working women still do more housework than men.

Meanwhile, the fact that women work as hard as men but, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, are paid an estimated 81 percent of what men are paid for performing the same jobs means that many women work longer hours to earn just as much—or feel like they should. That drive, however, only makes the situation worse, as studies show that overworking actually helps hold women back: a new study by sociologists from Indiana University and Cornell finds that overworking—putting in 50 hours a week or more—has helped slow growth in women occupying professional and managerial occupations.

And yet women keep saying yes to work, to family, to most everything. Thus, a survey by the American Psychological Association found that women consistently report higher levels of work stress, tension, and frustration than men. More than men, they are inclined to feel underappreciated and underpaid—exhausting stuff, for sure. An Australian study, meanwhile, found that women respond to such work-related conflict and stress by, you guessed it, working harder.

Until women choose to take care of themselves, however, they’ll continue to suffer most.