Why Burnout Is A Greater Danger For Women

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As I sat at a bar in the airport recently, two gentlemen behind me were discussing Jacinda Ardern’s recent decision to step down as PM of New Zealand. 

“Burnout again… Women just can’t cut it in high pressure environments, can they? They haven’t got what it takes.” The other guy quipped about the need to get out of the kitchen if it’s too hot there, and even talked about how three of his female team members have gone on sick leave in the last year due to burnout. 

I couldn’t roll my eyes hard enough at this… Puhleese, boys, let’s look at the facts for a moment. 

The reality is that women need to work twice as hard as men to be taken half as seriously due to the biases at play in the workforce. I hear this time and time again from my WINners – women kicking it out of the park at work despite the bar being much higher for them than it is for their male counterparts.

The research supports their lived experience – for more information, check out for example the work of Joan C. Williams, Distinguished professor of law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law and co-author of What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know.

But it’s not just at work where women have to work much harder than the men do. 

It’s also at home. 

The research confirms consistently that across the globe, women do on average 2/3 of the household tasks, plus – importantly – all the mental labour; those endless to-do lists that keep families humming, when men are only doing their 1/3. This is the case even if both partners work full-time. This much larger workload, logically leads to far greater stress levels experienced by women; a constituent part of a host of illnesses, including burnout. 

So, yeah…  No s*** Sherlock… Of course working women burn out at higher rates than men!

One of the most powerful ways to guard against burnout I have found, is to get really good at setting and communicating boundaries – both at work and at home. You will learn this essential life and professional skill in my coaching program. Get in touch if you want to learn more. 


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