Is Sexual Equality Taking an Unequal Toll on Women?
In the last half century, tremendous strides have been made in sexual equality between men and women, but the battle is far from over. For every small gain, women seem to be paying a higher price than men. According to a Time magazine Special Report on The State of the American Woman (Oct. 26, 2009), women today earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. While that’s a tremendous improvement over the 58 cents women earned in 1972, it’s still a huge discrepancy; especially considering that today women are the primary breadwinners in 40% of American homes.
The economy has accelerated the shift in earning power. More traditionally male jobs than female jobs have been lost, particularly in manufacturing. Unfortunately, women’s earnings fell 2% last year, twice as much as men’s. American families that were comfortable with two salaries are struggling to live on one, especially when that salary is brought home by an underpaid woman. Women are feeling the financial strain much more acutely than men.
Not only are women often shouldering the sole burden of providing for their families, but they feel they carry greater responsibility than men for child rearing and home care. The feeling of inequality at home remains despite the fact that 84% of couples recently surveyed said they negotiate responsibilities, rules and relationship issues.
Perhaps most disturbing is the revelation that despite the achievement of greater freedom, education and financial power, women are less happy. Puzzled social scientists say increased female stress and unhappiness are universal across all socio-economic levels. Theories include basic changes in American society and the American family that are felt more keenly by women than men or perhaps gains in workplace equality are now forcing women to battle the same pressures that have long contributed to male unhappiness or it may be that women have finally gained the self-c0nfidence to be honest about what they want and don’t want from life.
Carrying a constant burden of increased stress can eat away at a woman’s physical and mental health. Stress can cause irritability, lack of energy, sleep problems and even lead to serious depression. If taking a mental health day isn’t enough to get you back on track, you may need professional help to learn to cope with stress and re-balance your life.