Are you surprised to learn that males are the more jovial gender? If you're a woman, you're likely to respond to this study with a, "no kidding?" Women have been plodding along, accomplishing the insurmountable tasks at hand that comprise the life of women trying to balance a career with motherhood. Slowly but surely, the secret is coming out that the juggling act women perform on an hourly basis is leading to the deterioration of their happiness.
In our youth, it was inspirational and encouraging when our parents told us we could do anything, be anything, and have it all: a thriving career and a family, while being an amazing wife and the perfect mother. But it’s no surprise that some women are starting to feel like they need to wave a white flag, surrendering to the notion that though we may try, it’s nearly impossible to literally do everything with aplomb, while retaining a tight hold on happiness. Thus, women have been pegged the unhappier sex; when perhaps all women need is more support and understanding when it comes to the great expectations being placed on their shoulders.
A book recently touted on Oprah, titled, “Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper” has brought a study done by the Wharton School into the spotlight. The results of that study are what we're discussing here: men are happier than women. The title of the aforementioned book could initially be taken as a slam against men, but its true meaning is indicative of the realization that women need more help on the homefront, and they are tired of “doing it all," or at least most of it all, at home, and in the work force. (Of course there are exceptions.)
The work vs. family conundrum that women face is contributing to the downfall of their emotional well-being. Betsey Stevenson, an economist at the Wharton School offers an explanation of what mothers are feeling, "If you are at work, you feel torn you should be home. And if you are home, you feel you should be at work. And if you cut back your hours as a stay at home mom, you feel you are a failure as a career woman." It’s no surprise that the lose/lose mentality behind this inner negotiation leads to a woman’s decline in happiness, and as Stevenson put it, is a “major source of stress.”
The study’s findings also suggest, “what seems to be the most likely explanation for the happiness trends, is that women now have a much longer to-do list than they once did... they can’t possibly get it all done, and many end up feeling as if they are somehow falling short.”
The bittersweet silver lining here is that women have more opportunities now compared to several decades ago... but the simplicity of yesteryear lent itself to a more serene existence. Stevenson says, “We find that women have become less happy or less satisfied with their lives over time, and less happy relative to men. Surprising, perhaps given the increased opportunities and choices for women in the modern world."
Women now have another woe to worry about: men are purportedly happier than they are. Let’s hope the next study reveals how men and women may work together, share the burden, and increase their happiness without trading anyone in for a maid.