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Life Evaluation Slips More for Working Women in The U.S. Than Men

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In this Gallup Life Evaluation Index, life evaluation slips more for working women in the U.S. than men. This is Part 2 of a two-part series on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on working women. Part 1 focused on women’s employment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected working women in the United States in two distinct ways. First, job losses associated with the economic shutdown have hit women harder than men. Second, the psychological toll of the pandemic appears to be greater on working women than working men, although not in all respects. […]

NOTES: Life Evaluation Slips More for Working Women in The U.S. Than Men

Gallup measures Americans’ subjective wellbeing by asking respondents to rate their current and future lives on a 0-to-10 scale based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale.

The combined ratings form the Gallup Life Evaluation Index, which classifies people as “thriving,” “struggling” or “suffering.” Respondents are considered “thriving” if they rate their current life a 7 or higher and their future life an 8 or higher. Respondents are considered “suffering” if they rate their current life 0 to 4 and their future life 0 to 4. Those who are neither “thriving” nor “suffering” are considered “struggling.”

Working Women’s Subjective Wellbeing Sinks More Than Men’s

In the fall of 2019, employed men and women were about equally likely to be classified as struggling or suffering (41% each). Since the pandemic began, in Gallup Panel surveys conducted from March 2020 to February 2021, the combined percentage struggling or suffering has been 47% among working women. This is up six percentage points from the pre-pandemic period. While averaging 43% among working men, up two points.

Working Mothers Report Greatest Life Disruption

Since the pandemic began, working women (27%) have been more likely than working men (20%) to say their life has been disrupted “a great deal” by the crisis. 

Both Genders Report More Emotional Distress

The pandemic also triggered some specific negative emotions in both genders, namely; worry and stress. With the percentage of working women saying they experienced a lot of worry in their daily life increasing 12 points. This made it higher on average throughout the pandemic, compared with their self-expressed worry in 2018. 

Worry was much higher at the start of the pandemic, exceeding 50% among employed men and 60% among employed women in March 2020. It has since fallen for both groups. But as of February 2021, it remains higher than it was before the pandemic.

Stress was also significantly higher last spring than the 2020-2021 average. However, unlike worry, stress has returned to its pre-COVID-19 level for employed men and women since January.

Men Less Burned Out at Work, While Women Unchanged

Despite the emotional challenges wrought by COVID-19, employed women stayed just as “engaged” at work during the pandemic and grew a bit more satisfied with their place of employment. At the same time, men’s positive orientation to work improved slightly on both metrics – workplace engagement and workplace satisfaction.

Bottom Line

In addition to suffering greater job loss than men during the pandemic, women took a harder hit to their subjective wellbeing.

Working women with children at home report more disruption to their lives from the pandemic than the other three groups do. But this hasn’t resulted in higher burnout for them at work. But there has been no change since 2019 in women’s self-reported burnout at work. And, on the whole, their employee engagement and satisfaction with work are intact.

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