Too much work, too little money and not enough opportunity for growth . . .
That, in a nutshell, is how The Wall Street Journal summarizes the findings of a new survey by the American Psychological Association. The WSJ reports that about a third of all employees of both sexes experience chronic work-related stress, but that "women report higher levels of work stress than men, as well as a gnawing sense that they are underappreciated and underpaid."
Specifically, the APA finds that almost half of the women (48 percent) feel less valued than men at work, and only 43 percent of women feel they "receive adequate monetary compensation for their work" (versus 48 percent of men). Moreover, only 35 percent of women think that they have opportunities for internal career advancement (versus 43 percent of men).
Stressed, underpaid, and gloomy about advancement possibilities—is this striking a chord? I think these traits will hit home for women in a variety of professions, but maybe even more so for women stuck in some of those dead-end positions at law firms (remember, for the second year in a row, women make up 70 percent of staff lawyers).So exactly how stressed are women in the workforce? Here's how the APA sums up some of the main differences between the sexes:
--Women report higher stress levels than men (28 percent vs. 20 percent, scoring 8, 9, or 10 on a 10-point stress scale).
--Nearly 50 percent of women (49 percent) say their stress has increased over the past five years, compared to 39 percent of men.
--Women report more physical and emotional symptoms of stress than men, including headaches (41 percent vs. 30 percent), inclination to cry (44 percent vs. 15 percent), or upset stomachs (32 percent vs. 21 percent).
The report doesn't delve into the causes, though the WSJ offers that women are likely feeling the financial pressure of having to support a family. Since 2009, reports the WSJ, women contribute about 47 percent to family earnings, compared to 38 percent in 1998.
What might also exacerbate the stress for women is that they tend to internalize their frustrations, reports the WSJ:
Emotional responses to stress often divide along gender lines, with men more likely to have a "fight or flight" reaction while women are more likely to have a "tend and befriend" response, seeking comfort in relationships and care of loved ones, according to research by Shelley E. Taylor, health psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and others.
In other words, instead of challenging the inequities or finding a new job, women will shut up and stay put. I know it's become a cliché, but women still have a hard time making a fuss about getting better assignments, credit, and more money (click here and here). We're too loyal, too scared, or just too damn grateful for having a job.
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